Can Giles Goddard of St John's reflects on the Black Lives Movement

by Can Giles Goddard

published on the Vicar's Blog on St John's Waterloo's website

Dear all,

As many of you know, 3rd June is the day when the Martyrs of Uganda are remembered. It's a big day for members of Okusinza Church, and I have been honoured to be part of the Okusinza service of thanksgiving for the Ugandan martyrs in recent years.

This year of course we are unable to worship together, but I am very pleased that a series of fascinating and fizzing interviews with members of the Ugandan church ("a unifying and inclusive congregation") are being published on the Waterloo Festival website. Godfrey is interviewed here, and Dorothy Mukasa here.

It's doubly appropriate that we celebrate this partnership as we watch with dismay the unfolding events around Black Lives Matter. I know that you all share my deep pain that the scar of racism has yet again been opened, and that historic injustices against black people show no sign of coming to an end. 

The Archbishops of Canterbury and of York have issued this statement.

"Systemic racism continues to cause incalculable harm across the world. Our hearts weep for the suffering caused - for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear. God's justice and love for all creation demands that this evil is properly confronted and tackled. Let us be clear: racism is an affront to God. It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated. We all bear the responsibility and must play our part to eliminate this scourge on humanity."

As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, "In a real sense, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Therefore, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

The disproportionate number of deaths from COVID of black and minority ethnic people in the UK is a manifestation of the high levels of vulnerability in these communities, both within the NHS and outside it. Part of our support for the NHS is because we want it to be properly resourced so that its tireless staff are adequately protected. 

As Dorothy says in her interview, "speaking individually is ineffective, but if we stand as one, we make an impact."  There is a peaceful protest planned for Saturday 6th June at 1pm in Parliament Square. But, given the intersection with coronavirus, there are complexities about street protests, so here's an article about how you can protest in other ways.  

So many intersecting concerns. Our communities are much, much stronger if we stand together. I am thankful for your support and passion.