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“We need to get a better representation at all levels"

Diocese of Sheffield

“We need to get a better representation at all levels, so that churches are representative of the people who come through the doors” Posted by Claire Dawson on 22nd June 2022 We’re really privileged here in that we have quite a diverse congregation, and as a church our mission is to be a place that welcomes people of all faiths and none – we get a sense of that during the week when lots of people from different communities come and use our building. The worshipping congregation has grown – probably over the last 10 to 15 years. I’ve been here for 5 years and I’ve really enjoyed being part of a church which has a high percentage of black and ethnic minorities within the congregation; the terminology is constantly changing and global majority is probably a more accurate representation. I’m a white woman who is middle-class; part of the journey I’ve been on at St Mary’s is to listen and learn from people who aren’t like me. It was particularly highlighted during lockdown and the outcry following the murder of George Floyd when issues of racial injustice came to the fore. As a congregation with a significant number of black and ethnic minorities it was something that we needed to raise a voice about. We’ve done some work looking at what welcoming means; often we welcome in a very white way, which can exclude other communities that welcome in very different ways. We have used Ben Lindsay’s book ‘We Need to Talk About Race’ in person and on Zoom to learn more, and just listen to people’s experiences. We listened to the injustices and barriers that people have faced. We recognise it’s not just about having a diverse congregation; it’s having that within the leadership of the church. We need more churches in the C of E to represent and reflect the communities we serve. We need to have a better representation at all levels, so that churches are representative of the people who come through the doors and the communities in which they are placed. At St Mary’s we have worked hard to make our PCC representative of our worshiping congregation. We celebrate our diversity through using people’s songs, from a range of nationalities. Recently during Christian Aid Week we focused on Zimbabwe; a member of our congregation who was from Zimbabwe was able to tell us about life in his country and about his mother who is still living there. These aren’t stories of strangers – they’re stories of friends. People have become part of our church from many different countries, for example Iran, Conga, Kenya and India. Their experience of Christianity is very different from our white British perspective. We encourage congregation members to read and pray in their own language. We also share food together, and that becomes an important place of welcome and hospitality. We haven’t got it all right at St Mary’s, we ’re a work in progress. There is more for us to learn and change and respond to particularly in challenging issues of racial injustice within the wider Church. We are a hopeful community and want to celebrate the richness and gift of our diversity. Claire Dawson is the Vicar at St Mary’s Bramall Lane

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Roland Ballah
Roland Ballah
Dec 01, 2023

This is interesting to read all about St Mary’s activities and involvement in the life of all.

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