21st December, 2007
Ecumenical News International
Many churches were actively involved in the transatlantic slave trade and they need to offer reparation to descendants of those enslaved, tortured and murdered by the trade, an international church conference has demanded.
"While there have been some acts of repentance and confessional statements made by some churches, for the most part those statements have not been effective enough in eradicating white supremacy, systemic racism and the ongoing legacy of the transatlantic trade in Africans," participants at the 10th to 14th December meeting in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, said in a statement issued on 17th December.
"While there have been some acts of repentance and confessional statements made by some churches, for the most part those statements have not been effective enough in eradicating white supremacy, systemic racism and the ongoing legacy of the transatlantic trade in Africans."
- A statement by church organisations issued in mid December on the issue of reparations for the slave trade.
The gathering was sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Council for World Mission. It marked the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act by the British parliament.
"The statement sends a strong message challenging churches to look at their own past complicity in the evil of slavery and the slave trade and be at the forefront of exposing modern forms of slavery and oppression of people based on caste, race, gender or economic status," said WARC general secretary the Rev Setri Nyomi.
Jennifer Ayana McCalman, a Council for World Mission delegate, said, "What has been done in one generation has effects in the generations following. If we don’t deal with these consequences from the slave trade then we, the church, are living in denial."
Sixty theologians, church leaders and activists from Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas attended the event called "Abolished, but not Destroyed: Remembering the Slave Trade in the 21st Century".
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, an estimated 15 million Africans were forcibly removed from their homes and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to become slaves in the Caribbean and the Americas.
"Many churches were actively involved in the transatlantic slave trade in Africans and colonialism," the statement asserted. As a result, the church's mission was "seriously compromised and betrayed" it said.
"The process of reparations requires the restoration of relationships that affirm the dignity and humanity of all parties in order to repair what has been broken," the statement noted. "Reparation also challenges the perpetrator to confession and repentance and to minister restoration and healing to those who have been exploited."
ISSUES OF WORLDVIEW CLICK HERE