Members of the Anglican Ethnic Minority Network (AMEN), church leaders and supporters came together at St Matt’s Church, Leeds on Saturday, November 4 for their Living Well conference, in partnership with USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).
Speakers for the event included the Rt Revd Arun Arora, Bishop of Kirkstall; Professor Kelly Brown Douglas; Revd Dr Evie Vernon; and A.D.A France-Williams.
Of the conference, the Rt Revd Smitha Prasadam, Bishop of Huddersfield and the Chair of AMEN, said: “I was both encouraged and challenged by our incredibly thoughtful speakers throughout the day.
“We called the conference Living Well because we are committed to addressing internalised racism and living well with our church, but we also heard how it is so much more than this.
“We are called to do God’s work outside of church buildings as well.
“It was encouraging to have so many people join us for the day, and I am filled with hope for the future – and how living well is the key to unlocking this.
“Both the AMEN team and I came away refreshed and resourced for our mission.”
After opening reflection and worship led by Bishop Smitha, Bishop Arun challenged the delegates gathered through a rousing Introductory Exposition.
“We are far from the place of being done with making our case,” he said, as he stressed there was still much to be done concerning racial justice in the church.
He said that there are three key areas of development that AMEN can focus on; 1. Church growth – how the GMH community can help support growth within the Anglican Church. 2. Sustained funding for the vital work of racial justice and 3. AMEN having an external focus.
On this point, he went on to say that with the underfunding of the Racial Justice Commission and other prominent groups, why can’t AMEN become the key voice in the area of racial justice –they don’t have to confine their work to the church; “when it comes to racial justice we must go beyond the walls of the church, out of the pews. We can become the body synonymous with racial justice”.
The theme of AMEN looking outwards and “living well” continued throughout the day.
Professor Kelly Brown Douglas said: “We have to get out there and do the good work that God requires – we have to get out of the building and become the church in our communities.”
She talked about the “urgency of hope – the hope that is found in the action of protest for the hope for the future.”
Revd Dr Godfrey Kesari led delegates in a Bible Exposition, which emphasised the importance of rooting everything we are and do to live in and live out God's Glory.
The context for Racial Justice is not a fight against racism but to work towards the world and people as God intends.
AMEN is a distinctive racial justice body called, led, and blessed by God for His purposes.
The Revd Dr Evie Vernon used music to support her reflections on how institutional pressure can impact living well and how the church being the church of the oppressor because of its colonial past still has impacts today.
A.D.A France William, the author of Ghost Ship, spoke to this as well and how there is liberation both living within and without the institution.
He summed up his speech by saying: “Until we are all free, none of us are free.”
Those present had the opportunity to discuss themes presented throughout the day in groups and through a panel session where delegates could ask questions.
Time ended together in prayer and worship.
Ella Sibley, Regional Manager for USPG said: “It was an honour to partner with our friends at AMEN for this thought-provoking and informative conference.
“As an organisation committed to racial justice and challenging it within the church and its wider contexts, we are looking forward to continuing our journey with AMEN as they create change in this space.”
Find out more about AMEN here.