Churches, cathedrals and dioceses are marking Black History Month with events ranging from services to study days, poetry, workshops and films.
After the Flood, The Church, Slavery and Reconciliation, a documentary examining the Church’s historic links with chattel slavery and its impact to the present day, is being made available to all dioceses and parishes for showing during the Month.
The film, narrated by the historian Dr Robert Beckford, a professor of Black Theology and the Director of Climate and Social Justice at the University of Winchester, explores biblical principles for racial reconciliation.
The Church of England’s Racial Justice Unit will also host the networking event Being Built Together for clergy and lay ministers of UKME/Global Majority Heritage backgrounds on the weekend of October 12 and 13. It is the first gathering of this kind in more than five years.
Several Cathedrals will hold services to mark the Month including Southwark Cathedral, (pictured) where a thanksgiving service will take place on Saturday.
The service will highlight the faith and legacy of the Windrush generation, following the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush in the UK.
Bristol Cathedral is also marking the Windrush anniversary with photographic exhibitions – A Voyage Through the Generations, by the photographer Jim Grover, following on from his Windrush exhibition in 2018 and Pioneers by the photographer Garfield McKenzie, documenting the Windrush generation in Bristol.
Visitors will be able to hear Kat Lyons, the Bristol City Poet for 2022 to 2024, read the poem When you visit a relative's house,, to mark the Windrush anniversary.
The Church of England’s first Racial Justice Director, Rev Guy Hewitt, is due to address the congregation at the service marking the Month on Saturday at Chichester Cathedral.
At Liverpool Cathedral, the Black History Month annual service will be held on Sunday October 15 with the theme of honouring the service of black women.
At Sheffield Cathedral, an Evening Eucharist will be held on Sunday October 29 and the Cathedral will use liturgy for Black History Month at its Morning and Evening Prayer each Friday during October.
Manchester Cathedral will hold the annual commemoration day for the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson on October 26. Clarkson, a Church of England deacon, hosted the first mass meeting to abolish the slave trade in Manchester Cathedral in 1787.
Bradford Cathedral will be hosting the Journeys of Hope exhibition of Ugandan Asian migration stories, alongside stories from the Windrush community in the city during October and November.
The Diocese of Chelmsford is hosting a series of events linking climate justice and racial justice, with a study day and a poetry workshop.
Rev Guy Hewitt said: “I thank God that so many Cathedrals and churches are marking Black History Month, a moment to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black people to British economy, culture, and history. I also look forward to the gathering of Global Majority Heritage and UK Minoritised Ethnic community, which is long overdue.
“The Report of the Church of England’s Anti Racism Taskforce recommended that a culture change is required if the Church is to live up to its mandate of being a body where all the gifts of all its people flourish to the full, for the benefit of the church as a whole, the nation of England and the greater glory of God.”