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A pre-pandemic, diverse gathering of Christians in the United Kingdom.
A pre-pandemic, diverse gathering of Christians in the U.K. | Photo via Christian Worker

Christians in Britain seek justice for ‘people of colour’

While shopping in a supermarket, Ezra Mentore has had to explain to his 8-year-old daughter why a security guard was following them. 

When paying, he has had cashiers double- and triple-check the money given, something they don’t do for other customers.

“When he is wearing his postman’s uniform, police officers greet him with a ‘Good morning,’” said his wife, Bethan. “When he’s out of uniform he is greeted with suspicious looks.

The Mentore Family

The Mentore Family

“He is a kind, polite and honest, God-fearing man. … It is these qualities in Ezra which make it astounding to think of the adjustments he makes in order to be accepted by the society of a country in which he was born.”

That country is the United Kingdom, where Ezra, who is Black, and Bethan, who is White, worship with the Wembley Church of Christ, one of about 20 congregations in the fellowship in the London metro. Most are comprised largely of “people of colour,” as the British spell it, immigrants and descendants of people from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Bethan Mentore wrote about her family’s experiences  — including the teasing her daughter has endured because of her hair’s texture — in a recent issue of Christian Worker, a publication for Churches of Christ in the U.K. The issue also included testimonials from Olivia Aarons, a Jamaican immigrant, and Sydney Lewis, a Black businessman who trained at the British Bible School and occasionally preaches for the Lewisham Church of Christ.

Sydney Lewis

Sydney Lewis

Lewis was one of 50 members from eight British Churches of Christ who signed a statement sent to The Christian Chronicle expressing sadness and shock at the killing of George Floyd during a May 25 arrest by police in Minneapolis.

“As people everywhere use their voices to speak up against injustices and racism meted out against people of colour, we do not believe it is right that we remain silent,” the statement read. 

“During his earthly ministry Jesus Christ of Nazareth continually spoke and stood against injustice and division. He taught men the fundamentals of equality in these simple words: Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

A demonstration for racial equality in London.

A demonstration for racial equality in London. Read the statement sent to The Christian Chronicle by members of Churches of Christ in the United Kingdom.

Lewis said he appreciated the Chronicle “for your willingness to speak out on the subject of racial injustice when many have remained silent.” Many of the signers marched in a recent protest against racism and injustice in London. Churches also have spent time discussing the issue. 

“In the past, these areas of ministry have been neglected because we have turned a blind eye or crossed on the other side of the street and ignored the issue,” Lewis said, “hoping that by doing so it would disappear.”

Olivia Aarons

Olivia Aarons

In her piece for Christian Worker, Aarons said she was thankful that the incidents of “racial microaggression” and other forms of prejudice she’s endured have not been a part of her experience growing up in the Bedminster Church of Christ in Bristol, west of London.

The church is “such a diverse group of people,” she said, and members are celebrated regardless of their ethnicity. The church “always made me feel like I belonged. 

“I remember countless sermons which mentioned our diversity, and it was something of which to be proud.”

Filed under: Europe George Floyd immigrants International London race and church Race relations responding to the death of George Floyd social justice Top Stories United Kingdom

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