Churches in the United Kingdom united yesterday to fight against racial injustice and discrimination as they celebrated Racial Justice Sunday.
The day was organized by the Churches Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ) within Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) and now marked its the 10th anniversary. This year, the day became more significant as it coincided with the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy in the United States, and may have stimulated U.K. Christians to meditate how people in the world can overcome differences and live in harmony.
"Although it is a coincidence that the tenth anniversary of Racial Justice Sunday falls on Sept. 11, it is very appropriate," the acting moderator of the CCRJ, Pat White, said in a statement released by CTBI on Aug. 26. "The attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001 and the London bombings in July this year both led to very real tensions between different communities. There has been a lot of scapegoating and stereotyping. Since the July 7 bombings, there has been a huge rise in racist and anti-Muslim attacks."
White continued by saying that Racial Justice Sunday was about an affirmation to live together in mutual respect, which can be made possible.
"Its about saying that human diversity can be a source of strength and delight and doesnt have to be feared. It draws attention to injustices but says we can overcome them peacefully. It says 'no' to fear, prejudice and violence, 'yes' to diversity, love and respect," White declared.
Just like the United States, Britain has also been threatened by terrorist attacks. In July, 52 people were killed and 700 wounded when four suicide bombers blew themselves up on three London subway trains and a bus. Three suspects were identified as Pakistani while one was Jamaican, all with Muslim background.
The general director of the Evangelical Alliance UK (EAUK), Rev Joel Edwards, and the president of the Catholic Association Against for Racial Justice Rt Rev Kieran Conry, gave a testimony at the service held at St Pauls Cathedral, London.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who delivered his message for Sunday provided news and information to the Black and ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom. Williams said in the message, "The road to true racial justice has proved, as we always knew it would, a long and arduous distance we have traveled."
Rev Arlington Trotman, Director of the CCRJ said to Black Britain News that the event was a way for "churches to take time out to recognize the need for Christians to understand black and minority ethnic people and also to engage in building bridges across cultures and ethnicities to develop a much more harmonious society."
Rev Katei Kirby, Chief Executive Officer of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance (ACEA) in the United Kingdom, also participated in the Racial Justice Sunday event at St. Pauls Cathedral.
"Any one event will improve relations, I think it certainly raises awareness," Black Britain quoted her as saying. "They [Radical Justice Sunday events] remind our society that there still are issues of harmony that have not been addressed but also its a chance for these issues that have been addressed to be celebrated."
Special national celebrations were also held in Glasgow of Scotland and Cardiff of Wales as well as hundreds of local services around Britain and Ireland. Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Protestant churches supported the event, according to the CCRJ.