As part of OCC's service on Sunday 1 October 2023, Senior Pastor Steve Jones notes that Black History Month is a helpful annual reminder to learn more as a church, and comments on OCC becoming more intercultural, including relationships with other minority-led churches in Oxford.
In recent years, I’ve found myself personally caught up in the conversation about race, ethnicity and justice. I’ve appreciated rich conversations with people of other heritages in OCC (including in the Ethne team, and its predecessor group - you know who you are - thank you!), external learning opportunities and, of course, reading books. I do love a good book, and I now have a shelf in my office devoted to books on intercultural church, biographies of British people of colour, and history books considering race and ethnicity. Call me a geek if you will, but it’s part of how I learn.
During the panel on 4 June 2023, 33 questions were asked. We were only able to answer a few in the session, and committed to give brief written answers to the questions here. Similar or overlapping questions have been combined for brevity.
Last night we had the first of 2 vision evenings. You can listen to the recording of the evening here.
As widely reported last week (and as mentioned by Sanjay in his talk recently), the UK Government Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just released some more data from the 2021 Census. This release of data, including as it did ethnicity and religion, has been headlined by the media as "England and Wales are now minority Christian countries".
A city like Oxford is for many is a stepping stone of education and early career development, with high population turnover. A city church like OCC will reflect this population turnover of the city. But with our 'apostolic vision' for God's world, we see that turnover as an opportunity, not a threat!
This blog seeks to window into how OCC is approaching questions of racism, racial justice, and ethnic diversity, at this point in time. I'm writing as one of the elders and Assistant Pastors, but also about my own story.
Full disclosure: I’m a white man of a certain age. I grew up in the UK in the late 20th century. This is a tricky subject to get right. It’s not my ‘lived experience’. It's a current, very live, and controversial topic. Writers, commentators and activists use a lot of terminology that you need get your head around.
“It is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” – Angela Davis
“Racism isn’t getting worse; it’s getting filmed.” – Will Smith
George Floyd was a black man who was killed by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis on Monday 26 May, 2020. He pleaded for his life several times, saying “I can’t breathe”, and since his death, riots have ensued in Minneapolis and beyond - calling for justice and bringing race-based injustice to the fore.
As the city of Oxford changes to become more multi-cultural, God wants to change OCC to gloriously reflect that diversity - to be a united family demonstrating his gospel in a diverse city. He wants to change us as a church, and change the hearts of us as individuals.
How does that work practically?