Youth work and pray against racism: “We affirm that we are all equally loved”

by Cheon Young Cheol

In a workshop on 8-11 December in London, 18 young people from Africa, Caribbean, Europe, and South Asia gathered to challenge racial supremacy, collaborate for equality, and pray for a path toward life-flourishing communities.

The workshop, organized by the CWM Discipleship, Spiritualities, and Dialogue programme, upended the traditional training model that encompasses knowledge being transferred from the “knowing” to the “unknowing”—the very premise from which racial supremacy often stems.

Offered a space in which everyone was free to speak, share, and collaborate, the young people focused on ways to bring what they learned back to their local communities.

Participants began with a comprehensive introduction to the church and racism, then discussed how colonisation and slavery created an opening for empire to sow racism and other injustices.

The young people challenged and interrogated perceptions of racism and racial supremacy, some of which are allowed in theological spaces. They also attended exposure visits to sites in East London linked to colonisation and slavery.

They shared their personal accounts of day-to-day racism in society, and applied their real-life experiences during in-depth discussions on structural racism in church as well as church worship practices and readings of biblical texts that could contribute to racism.

African participants offered a presentation on the Boksburg Declaration penned during a CWM Church and Racism workshop held in Africa in April this year. The declaration, drafted by the African youths, decried the presence of racism being a stumbling roadblock to building life-flourishing societies in Africa.

The presentation of the declaration sparked a lively discussion and in closing, a prayer (shared below) was crafted by the participants in response.

From the Hearts of the Young
#not yet uhuru

We have looked…
We have listened…
We have felt…

Make us ready to respond.

We recognise and name the evils of racism, prejudice,
And all forms of discrimination
Which say some of your people are worth more than others –
Deserving of special and unearned privileges –
While others are misused,
And left behind.

We see the ways this has played out in different contexts
All around the globe –
The ways it continues to plague our world
And distort our relationships.

We affirm that you – the One Creator God –
Created all humankind out of your love;
We affirm that we are all equally loved
And equally valued –
Regardless of colour, shade, caste, or creed,
Regardless of gender, geography, language, or class,
Or any of the other divisions we imagine
Or create.

We long for life-flourishing communities –
In our individual contexts –
And around the globe.
Societies which embody equality, equity and freedom –
Where all your people have access to wealth, education, resources
And all that is needed for abundant life;
Where all voices are sought out, listened to, and heard,
And wisdom flows freely – from everyone to everyone,
Crossing all boundaries
For the wellbeing of all.

God of justice,
We are young people.
We are living in the midst of a brokenness
We did not create –
Legacies of slavery, colonialism, and inherited unjust structures.
Yet we believe in the God-gifted talent we each embody –
The particular insights you afford –
So that we can be a force for transformation

As we look
As we listen
As we feel…
Move us to act –
Believing that the way things are
Are not the way they have to be.
Believing that change is possible –
Despite any obstacles that might be put in our way.

And when the road to your justice seems too long –
#not yet uhuru –
Remind us that any journey starts with just one step.
Help us to seek out
And create
The spaces in which we can encourage –
And be encouraged –
Along the way.

Transforming God,
We are young – and the future is ours to shape;
Empower us – each one, and together –
To speak with wisdom,
To act with confidence
For Church and world to better live out your ways.

Keep us looking
– and make us see
Keep us listening
– and make us hear
Keep us feeling
and moving
– and praying
Until justice is complete.
Because it is not yet #uhuru.

You may also like