Anglican church calls for healing
The leader of the Anglican Church of Bermuda has branded the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of American police officers, wrong, tragic and evil.
The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, said the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, highlighted a sickness at the heart of society.
He added: “It was a total abuse of power devaluing human life and dignity, all the more horrific due to stature of the murderer, someone charged and trained to administer justice impartially and with a force proportional to the situation.”
He was speaking after George Floyd died on May 25 as three police officers held him down and another knelt on his neck.
Mr Floyd was heard to be crying “please, please, please I can’t breathe. My stomach hurts” in videos posted on social media.
Bishop Dill said. “The cry ‘I can’t breathe’ will linger in my mind and heart, as it reflects a long standing stranglehold that many feel, on account of their race, poverty and situation, and which we all, especially those of us, who like me, have lived with the benefits of white privilege, need to be instrumental in owning, repenting, correcting, seeking to listen, and trying to heal.”
It was announced on Wednesday that all Anglican clergy who are physically able will attended the Black Lives Matter march on Sunday in Hamilton.
The church asked its congregation to join them in the march.
Bishop Dill said the Black Lives Matter march was an opportunity to show solidarity and to express grief and guilt.
He added: “It is as an opportunity to walk together on the pathway towards reconciliation, unity and mutual love and respect for this and every generation that follows.”
Bishop Dill said: “But at this time, I also walk with hope. We have experienced something of the beauty of unity and working together for the common good during this Covid-19 crisis.”
He added: “I pray for George Floyd’s family, but also for every black man, woman and child who live with fear or feel excluded and vulnerable, and I pray for our nation that we would turn back to God to find the strength to live our faith with truth, forgiveness and love, because black lives matter.”
An open letter from the island’s Anglican Church issued on Wednesday was signed by Bishop Dill, Archdeacon Andrew Doughty, Canon Norman Lynas, Canon John Stow, Canon Anthony Pettit, Archdeacon Emeritus Arnold Hollis, retired bishop Ewen Ratteray and ministers Tom Slawson, Jon Connell, Jamaine Tucker, Gavin Tyte, Paul Dean, Don Moore and Carl Williams.
The statement said: “The church stands in solidarity with all those who condemn the innocent murder and mistreatment of so many people of colour.
“This is just the tip of a history of exclusion and injustice wrought over centuries.”
It added: “As a church we recognise that our history has included times of oppression and collusion with power structures that were racist.
“We also acknowledge we have not done all that we can to correct oppression.”
The letter said that, as a multiracial faith, the Anglican church aimed to be a place where all were welcomed.
It said: “We also seek to take concrete steps to ensure a more just society, where all people have a right to be heard and to have their personhood valued equally.
“As part of that we also undertake to listen, love and lament with those who suffer and to repent of our silence, which can appear to reflect lack of compassion, courage and conviction to take a stand.”
The clergy told the public: “This is not the end of the conversation we need to be having in our homes, in our churches and across our island. We want to hear your voices. We are listening.”
Rev Carl Williams, one of the ministers who signed the letter, said: “I think that a change of attitude will open up opportunities for talented people of colour. Racism is like Covid-19. It eats away at the soul of society. People have to remember that God created people everywhere equal.”
His hope was that now that the Bishop would continue work to eradicate systematic and institutionalised racism from the church. “I am looking forward to that as we move forward,” Rev Williams said.
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Ada Foggo (1928-2020)
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