‘What’s that got to do with me?’ So said a fellow ordinand at our college, when I praised a particular Diocese for their progressive work in racial justice, which included having the largest number of ordained and lay leaders from UKME backgrounds.
This year, Racial Justice Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the racially motivated murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London. For those not familiar with this tragic event, Stephen was an 18-year-old student who was studying for his A levels; he aspired to be an architect. On the evening of 22 April 1993, a group of White youths attacked Stephen, as well as his friend, Duwayne Brooks, at a bus stop in Eltham as they were on their way home. Stephen died as a result of this racist attack. It took another 18 years before Stephen’s attackers were finally convicted of his murder.
- One legacy of this tragic event is Racial Justice Sunday. A call for us to Remember, Reflect and Respond to racial justice matters
- Remember the importance of racial justice
- Reflect on human diversity and thank God for it
- Respond by working to end injustice, racism and ignorance through prayer and action
Racial Justice Sunday is a reminder that justice of any kind is all our business because the Good News is for us all, without exception. We are all in need and deserving of God’s grace, love and forgiveness.
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ Romans 5:8.
Written by Reverend Karlene Kerr – Bishop’s Adviser for United Kingdom Minority Ethnic Affairs
This year, Racial Justice Sunday takes place on Sunday 12 February 2023, Your church, school or community can get involved or find out more by using the resources here:
- Read: worship resources and prayers for churches, schools and communities to use for Racial Justice Sunday 2023 Stephen Lawrence Resource
- Watch: Revd Karlene Kerr’s message about why racial justice matters. Revd Karlene is the Bishop’s Adviser for UKME matters, as well as Team Vicar at St Faiths church in Gaywood and Rural Dean of Lynn.
- Read: Lord Boateng’s speech to the National Education Conference 2023. Lord Boateng is the Chair of the Archhbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice. You can read his speech here
- Watch: Diocese of Norwich Revd Tim Yau’s personal message and testimony. Revd Tim is part of the Cringleford Ministry team near Norwich. His Dad moved to England from Hong Kong, expecting a warm welcome. Watch Tim’s message below:
- Read: two moving articles written by Rosemary and David Coleman, friends of Revd Karlene Kerr, the Bishop’s Adviser for UKME matters. Revd Karlene and her friends Rosemary and David lived in South London at the time of Stephen’s murder. They share their thoughts on Stephen and the aftermath of his death. Article – Stephen Lawrence 1 Article – Stephen Lawrence 2
- Watch: Stones and Stories A video of personal experiences from Christians shared during the week of prayer for Christian unity. (see below)
- Read: a prayer written by Revd Blessing Chishanu, serving in the Mitre Benefice in the Diocese of Norwich
We come before you with humble hearts, seeking your guidance and grace as we observe Racial Justice Sunday. In a world that is plagued by division and discrimination, we ask that you would shine your light into the dark corners of our hearts and communities. We ask that you would help us to see the value and dignity of every person, created in your image.
We are inspired by your eschatological vision for your redeemed people, as described in Revelation 7, where every nation, tribe, people, and language stand before your throne, worshiping you in unity. We long for this vision to become a reality in our world today. We celebrate where see it partially expressed in communities that intentionally seek it out, a foretaste of the kingdom to come. We grieve where see its absence, deepening our longing for the kingdom to come.
Lord Jesus, you are our perfect example of love and justice, we seek to follow in your footsteps. You came to this earth to bring salvation to all people, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Help us to embody your love and compassion, so that others may see your light shining through us.
We ask that you would empower us to be ambassadors of your love and peace, spreading hope and joy in the midst of adversity. Fill us with the courage and wisdom to stand up against any form of racial discrimination and to fight for the rights of the marginalized. May we be a voice for the voiceless and a defender of the oppressed, reflecting your character and compassion in all that we do.
We pray that through your grace and mercy, the world would be transformed into a place where racial justice prevails, and all people can live in harmony. Lord, we ask that you would give us the strength and determination to keep fighting for what is right, even when it is difficult. Help us to be peacemakers and to demonstrate your love to those around us, so that others may come to know you and be reconciled to you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.