Ridley action to address the sin of racism

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Ridley action to address the sin of racism

In early June, following the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, and ongoing recognition of the extent of racial injustice and discrimination in the UK as well as in the United States, Ridley Hall issued the following statement on its website and social media platforms. This statement remains true today:

"We want to reassure anyone who has been hurt or affected by the current circumstances that, as a Christian community committed to following in the way of justice and peace modelled by Jesus Christ, Ridley Hall stands in solidarity with the black community in outrage at present and past injustice. We condemn all forms of racial violence and the abuse of power. We are committed to being part of positive change. We recognise our own need to listen, reflect, learn, pray and take action together and we are working on ways in which this can be achieved. Black Lives Matter." The Principal and Tutorial Staff of Ridley Hall.

Also in June we invited members of the College community to share concerns, thoughts and ideas about what actions we might take together to move towards a more hopeful future in relation to racism and racial justice. An encouraging number of people responded. These responses were collated and circulated to the tutorial team, who spent time prayerfully discussing them and considering what action might be taken in the short, medium and long term. We acknowledged that this was still the early stages of a shared journey for the College community, the Church and our wider society. There is a long way to travel and much to do but as we move through this academic year, we felt that it was important to share what action is being taken at this stage.

As a result of our deliberations, we invited the Revd Nikki Mann, Rector of the Raddesley Group, BAME adviser to the Bishop of Ely, ME Vocations Champion and Mentor, to journey with us as a 'wise guide’ on our journey towards antiracism. Nikki met with staff at our zoom residential in September with the aim of helping us to discern how we might put this into practice across all areas of our institutional life. In October Nikki spent an afternoon with the Ridley ordinand community, listening to concerns, sharing insights and reflecting together on using the agency we all hold to make positive change. She will continue to walk with us through the year and to reflect with us on progress that is being made and aspects of our communal life that continue to require attention. We are committed to taking seriously and acting on all that we learn with Nikki.

All tutorial staff and ordinands undertook unconscious bias training at the start of the academic year.

Tutorial staff and our chaplains have been reviewing guest speakers on their modules, short courses and other lectures in order to ensure that contributors of BAME heritage are properly represented. To this end, Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and the Revd Richard Springer addressed the College in the Michaelmas term. Selina Stone, Lecturer in Political Theology at St Mellitus will share with us in the Lent term. Ben Lindsay has accepted our invitation to give the prestigious annual Moule Day Lecture at Ridley on 9th June 2021 on the title, ‘We Need to Talk About Race’. Tickets for this will be available to purchase via our website soon. Ben’s book is on the recommended reading list for incoming ordinands. We are, of course, keen that we invite speakers of BAME heritage to address the community on a range of areas of expertise and not just on race.

Tutorial staff are reviewing book lists for all modules and working pro-actively towards the inclusion of authors of BAME heritage. Although there have been some immediate additions, undertaking this task with genuine integrity will require time and attention and the effects will be obvious over years rather than months. We are grateful for the patience of the student community in this – and for suggestions of published work that might be suitable for particular modules.

Revd Dr Rob McDonald, Academic Dean and Tutor in Doctrine, has re-imagined his level 7 doctrine module in order to focus on race and racism. Rob has also convened a reading group to which all staff and students are invited that will explore Willie James Jennings recent book, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging.

Ridley Hall enjoys beautiful nineteenth-century buildings, including a wonderful chapel in which generations of those preparing for Christian ministry have prayed and worshipped. The stained-glass windows hold Victorian depictions of Church Fathers and key Reformers. While we celebrate the lives of these servants of Christ, we recognise that images and art work in the chapel and around our site need to reflect and celebrate the ministries of women as well as men and the untold contributions of non-white, non-European Christians alongside those we have inherited. To this end a group has been formed to look carefully at images at Ridley with a view to commissioning and raising funds for new work to compliment that which we have received from those who went before us. The group consists of students and members of staff. Group members have energy for this crucial task and are excited about making progress in this key area of College life.

We are encouraged to note the launch of the Church of England’s Anti-Racism Taskforce, chaired jointly by Revd Sonia Barron and Revd Arun Arora and including Ridley alumnus, Ven Neil Warwick. We look forward to engaging with the Task Force as they carry out their preparatory work ahead of the launch of the Archbishop’s Commission to address racism in Spring 2021. We look forward also, to playing our own part in the implementation of the recommendations in due course. More information on the Anti-Racism Taskforce can be found here.

We encourage staff and students to engage with the work of the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN) who are committed to promoting the presence and participation of Anglicans of minority ethnic heritage in all structures of the church in the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More info here.

We invite you to continue to pray for the community at Ridley Hall as we proactively seek to play our part in addressing the sin of racism. We recognise the importance of the prayers and actions of the whole people of God as we work together with the wider Church towards a hopeful future in which people of all ethnicities belong and are accorded their God-given dignity and respect along with a place and voice at the table in order that the full beauty of the Church might be known and seen.