I am white woman and lead a church that is mostly, but by no means exclusively, made up of white people.
We have been on a journey here at SMWC. We have put on services and attended events in Black History Month every year since I began at the church. We completed a lent series on reconciliation last year. We formed a gospel choir and appointed a black woman to direct it. These have all been deliberate choices to increase the roles, opportunities and fellowship with people of colour at SMWC.
I have been so blessed by a friendship with Ronald Nathan, formerly pastor of AME Zion Mallinson Road and now in Barbados. As of this week I am thanking God for an embryonic friendship with Rev Icyline Howell ,Dorothy Macfarlene and Sharon Simpson-Senior also from AME Zion Church, our nearest church neighbour and our nearest black majority church.
We are all somewhere on this journey, and we can only start from where we are. But at SMWC, I intend to up the pace of our journey. That is why the next step seems to require a kind of scan or our hearts, minds and souls.
I had an MRI this week. It was on my throat. My symptoms are likely to be caused by a type of allergy to some kind of tree pollen, but my doctor wants to be sure there is nothing lurking there. I am not at all worried, but agreed, it’s best to be sure.
To go for an MRI takes effort. You have to identify something doesn’t feel right. You have to tell someone, then make an appointment, travel to a hospital. You have to remove your clothing, your jewellery and put on an undignified hospital gown. Then you have to place yourself in a tube that rocks your body and assaults your ears as a strong magnet is used to reveal any disease in the body. A contrast is injected into your vein and it races around in the blood to ensure that everything that can be shown up is shown up.
In this time of turmoil in our country as well as the rest of the world following death of yet another black man at the hands, or feet, of white police officers, I need to tell you that have decided to make the effort to put myself into a kind of racism MRI scanner.
I believe whole heartedly that Jesus’ justice is racial justice. Black lives matter because every human is made in the image of God, who, in the three persons of Father, Son and Spirit is shown to be varied and diverse and unified.
But believing this does not feel like it’s enough. I need a spiritual and intellectual MRI to show up the racism that may be living and breeding deep in my cells. I will read some books and poetry, watch some films and plays, listen to some talks, music and podcasts, build on some friendships, and accept the invitation to keep attending the weekly prayer meeting at AME Zion where I am in the racial minority.
Perhaps you would like to join me and we can form a SMWC group that is committed for a period to being MRI’ed for the cancer of systematic institutional racism.
The group will have homework to do and then we will meet together to talk through what we have been noticing and to ask each other searching questions. We will pray together and come again and again to the Bible to help us see Jesus revealing God's justice in His ministry. If you would like to join this group, please email email@example.com and we will get started on dates, times, frequency and some material.
Before you move on, please take one minute in silence to lament the death of George Floyd and the injustice that meant he and whole generations of black people can’t breathe.