Christian Aid and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Launch Stephen Lawrence Legacy Conversations Videos

Christian Aid and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) have brought together over a dozen leading Christian thinkers and theologians to discuss the legacy of Stephen Lawrence’s racist killing, and the current state of race-relations in church and society in Britain and Ireland. The results of these conversations are available in a stunning series of videos that can be found on the CTBI and Christian Aid websites.

The 22 April 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in Eltham, southeast London, which remains a watershed moment for race equality in Britain, and it can be argued, helped to set the tone for what was to follow over the following decades. (As a result of the Metropolitan Police’s flawed investigation into Stephen’s killing it was subsequently labelled as ‘Institutionally racist’ by the 1999 McPherson Report.  Indeed, the recent Baroness Casey Report into the same organisation still asserts that it is institutionally racist, as well as misogynist and homophobic.)

From a church perspective, that tragedy kick-started a great deal of the racial justice work that still takes place today. With that in mind, CTBI’s Richard Reddie and Christian Aid’s Dr Lisa Adjei assembled an ethnically mixed, age-diverse, panel of Christians to explore the impact of this death on British and Irish Churches and society, and what, if anything, has been the legacy of that event.  

CTBI’s Richard Reddie says:

It’s hard to believe that Stephen’s death was 30 years ago, but its impact still looms large over the body-politic of British society in particular. One only has to look at the police and its struggle to address racism within its structures, and difficulties with engaging with Black communities. We thought that this anniversary was an important moment to discuss how the churches on these shores engaged with Stephen’s killing at the time, and whether this has informed any of the racial justice work that has taken place since.

Those who took part in the filmed session, which took the format of a roundtable discussion that saw participants discuss everything from Stephen’s death to racial justice and the Bible, were from a range of Christian denominations and groupings. Some of the participants were involved in racial justice work at the time of Stephen’s passing, while others were either not born or too young to remember that event. According to Dr Lisa Adjei, it was important to get a range of perspectives on this issue. She states, ‘Akin to me, several of our participants were very young at the time of Stephen’s killing. However, as time passed and our interest grew regarding justice matters, we became aware of the significance of that event and how it has informed many prevailing attitudes and behaviours. What was great about our filmed session was that we had people who were around at that time who spoke about their experiences, alongside those who could talk about what it is like to be a younger Christian who is committed to ending the work they started all those years ago.’

The aforementioned videos that capture these powerful conversations feature Pat White, Karen Campbell, Revd Arlington Trotman, Ben Lindsay, Linbert Spencer, Dr Garrick Wilson, Revd Dr David Wise, Jacqueline Gray, Richard Zipfel, Joshua Hudson-Roberts, Dr Elizabeth Henry, Yogi Sutton, Anne-Marie Agyeman and Revd Kumar Rajagopalan.

Richard Reddie adds:

This is very much a stellar line up who are discussing some really vital, topical issues. There is little doubt in my mind that the churches on these shores will be inspired and challenged in equal measure by what they see and hear in these videos.

Written by: Richard Reddie

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