WE ARE ALL ONE
I hope by now all Methodist members will have had an opportunity to hear and respond to the letter that came from the Methodist Conference in response to the divisive atmosphere that seems to have arisen in some places after the Referendum vote. The text of the letter is here:
We are also encourages to write to our local MPs to ask them to change the narrative to put an end to the demonization of those who are different, particularly around issues of migration.
Personally I have been horrified by the stories that I have heard from around the country of an increase in abusive comments of a racial nature, and experiencing personally people saying things on public transport that I have not heard in years, of the classic: ‘I am not racist but …” type. It seems that a certain discourse that has been beneath the surface, has been legitimised by some of the things that were said by politicians in the referendum campaign, and that the leave vote seems to have vindicated them. I know that there are perfectly good reasons for having voted leave, but sadly, some have emphasised the less legitimate one. I am particularly aware that for people of a BME background this is causing hurt and anxiety and I am concerned that we make a particular effort in our churches to be inclusive and welcoming, including those from newer marginalised groups. For example: I have heard of rural churches making an effort to welcome Polish agriculture workers, through putting Polish language signs up around their coffee mornings.
Last Sunday I was happy to be at a Birmingham event to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the dreadful genocide at Srebrenica. About 200 of us gathered in Victoria Square to hear speeches by politicians and religious leaders from different backgrounds to affirm that ‘We are all One’ and we were warned of how in Srebrenica neighbours who had lived alongside each other in peace for years were turned against each other by irresponsible, mendacious political leadership.
It was the murdered MP Jo Cox, who said that in a diverse community we have more in common than that which divides us. From a Christian perspective that stems from our understanding that we are all children of God and all are precious to God.
In our churches we need to remember that the church is not for us, but for all, and that the church is the agent of God’s kingdom of love, justice and peace. We are called to reach out and form relationships of trust with those who are different, that we may work together for a society in which for all our diversity, we are all one.