To mark two weeks since the death of American George Floyd and to highlight injustice in our own society, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow made the decision to ‘Take the Knee’ before Leicester Cathedral this morning.
A video of the Bishops taking the knee can be found here.
The Bishop and a group of other volunteers from the church community, including the Bishop of Loughborough, the Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This was the amount of time that an American police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck leading to his murder.
Bishop Martyn said: “I wanted to take the knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds this morning, to make it clear that I stand with others, not only against the brutality of the police in America, but also because of the racism that many people experience in the UK. It’s often said that it’s a subtle form of racism, that it applies in every institution, including the Church, but until people like me, in particular white people, are prepared to stand up and be counted then very little is going to change.”
Bishop Martyn also led the Church of England’s General Synod in a vote to apologise for racism in the Church earlier this year.
Last week, The Times newspaper published a letter written by the Bishop of Loughborough where she called for a full public enquiry into the disparities in impact of the Coronavirus as well as urging the Government to outline what steps will be taken to tackle racial prejudice on a wider scale.
The Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, said: “There are no easy or straightforward steps for this. We’ve seen, for years, talk of this and there has been some legislation implemented to improve the situation but I think we need more. The Public Health England report recently showed that disparities exist, and in a sense Covid-19 has laid those bare. We now need clear guidance and steps from the government about what’s going to be done to address those disparities and that’s something I’ve called for in a statement earlier this week.”
Following this expression of solidarity with the black and minority ethnic community, Bishop Guli led an online discussion with local Christians of BAME heritage called the ‘Big BAME Conversation’.
Bishop Guli is leading work in the Church of England’s Diocese of Leicester to identify, recognise and reduce the barriers that impede people of BAME heritage from feeling fully welcome and equally empowered in the Church. The diocese’s Intercultural Worshipping Communities project is receiving national funding as part of this work.
A video message was released this week from Bishop Martyn which featured a conversation with Filipino care home worker Noel Reyes and included discussion of the disproportionately high death-count among healthcare workers in the British Filipino community. You can see more on this here.
By Sam Ellison