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An introduction to HEBA Justice Hub – MADE     


The murder of George Floyd in 2020 prompted the Revd David Ellis to put out a challenge across the Heart of England Baptist Association (HEBA) for people to stand alongside him as he sought to make a stand for justice. A number of people came forward and ignited the birth of HEBA’s M.A.D.E. (Make A Difference for Everyone) Justice Hub.

Dave, a HEBA regional minister, explains more



Purpose 

The Justice Hub aims to highlight and positively impact those lives and groups that are unjustly marginalised and / or left behind. 

We began our journey in October 2020 by focussing on three areas of justice – racial, women and disabilities. We will:  

  • Support churches to enable the people of God to live out a life of justice in accordance with the will of God. 
  • Support Baptists across the HEBA region, with the full backing of the HEBA Board of Trustees, to live out our values of companionship, generosity, diversity, learning and innovation. 


The Hub: 

  • Is a resource for building ‘just’ churches, structures and processes 
  • Is a justice conscience, speaking into ‘the way we do things’ 
  • Offers support when things go wrong 
  • Connects with a network of regional and national Justice Hubs 
  • Concentrates on one main theme a year, whilst continuing to provide support on the other areas of justice 
  • Ensures that the voices of young people are heard and play a central role in all we do 


How we operate? 

The Hub consists of a Core Group – chaired by Judith Miller one of our HEBA Trustees – and six other members. 

The Core group is then sub divided into four Task Groups; Racial Justice, Disability, Women and Youth Forum. There are 15-20 people dispersed across the groups. Then we have a number of church Justice Reps and groups to help us share information with their Churches. 


Racial Justice Task Group 

For 2020 - 21 we are focusing on Racial Justice. 

The Racial Justice Task Group consists of Anthony Narain (Wade Street), Monique Hyllams (Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church), Gerard Goshawk (Six Ways Baptist Church Erdington and Baptist Union Racial Justice Group), and David Ellis. 

We have promoted Racial Justice through the Baptist Union Council, Association, newspaper interviews, radio, social media, and several Churches via Zoom. 

 
Symposium 

Symposiums are HEBA's theological reflection days that we open up to all HEBA ministers and other church leaders which cover a number of themes. At least one of the three annual symposiums is around the justice issue for that year. This year we focused on Racial Justice and invited Professor Anthony Reddie to speak on ‘A Theology of Racial Justice’. Around 70 people joined us on Zoom with the talks being well received and appreciated. There was similar response to the latest Symposium on 18 November called ‘A Theology of Urban Justice’ with Simon Jay and Tim Judson. 

 
Partnerships 

The HEBA Racial Justice Task Group is committed to working in partnership with other Racial Justice organisations. 

  • Ministers of Colour (MOC) - A group of 90 mainly black with a few Asian ministers came together to respond to the death of George Floyd. This resulted in a modest demonstration at Parliament. Several HEBA ministers came to the July 2020 demonstration in London. 
  • Alongside MOC, the HEBA MADE Justice Hub was represented in Zoom forums with Sir Keir Starmer, Dame Doreen Lawrence, and David Lammy. 
  • Alongside MOC, the HEBA MADE Justice Hub help to lead a Justice Seminar at Fresh Streams Conference in January 2021. 
  • Time4Change BirminghamTime4Change is a major new ecumenical movement between the Black majority Churches and the bulk of traditional churches across Birmingham. Our three Regional Ministers have signed a Time for Change Charter on behalf of the Association. This Charter will help frame the agenda for the HEBA Racial Justice Hub. We had a major city-wide Ecumenical Service of Reconciliation at 4pm on Sunday 17 October 2021 at Birmingham City FC football ground. 


Other Partnerships HEBA MADE Justice Hub are involved with 


Releasing Multi-Ethnic People into church leadership and ministerial positions  

  • “We recognise that most people are called into ministry after being in church leadership, and we have work to do to see people released into leadership. Our heart is to be proactive in growing Multi-Ethnic leaders. (lots more to do on this one)” Adrian Argile, HEBA Regional Minister Team Leader. 
  • The HEBA Regional Ministry Team are working on two programmes to encourage Women, Black-Brown and Multi-Ethnic people to go for leadership positions in the HEBA and further afield. 
  • Wale Roberts, Jane Day, Rupert Lazar and I are similarly discussing how we can prepare Multi-Ethnic people for leadership positions in the Associations and Baptists Together following a pattern being followed by the Gender Justice Hub to promote Baptist women in leadership. 
  • Six Ways Baptist Church Erdington is looking for a Multi-Ethnic Minister in Training. 
  • Marston Green has appointed a Multi-Ethnic Minister who has signed up to Spurgeon's College's Equipped to Minister modules. 
  • Judith, Adrian, and David have discussed why the use of the word BAME is no longer favoured, and why HEBA shouldn't use it as a catch-all phrase. 
  • We promoted the Blacklight Course
  • Our Justice Hub church did a major review on the “Conversations about Race” teaching from Kings Cross Church London. 



What next for the HEBA Justice Hub? 

  • Core Group: We are looking to finish off our website and Facebook page. We feel they are ready to launch. We are pushing the Task Groups to define what their priorities are and what they hope to achieve. We are interested in the HEBA Survey to help us gauge where churches are in terms of Justice issues. 
  • Racial Justice Task Group: We want to look into piloting the Baptist Together Racial Justice Group's new teaching material called Visions of Colour for ministers and Churches. 


Conclusion 

Nearly 18 months on, things move on what started with a blaze of indignation passion and fury loses momentum and becomes yesterday’s forgotten news. 

Professor David E. Kirkland of urban education at New York University, in his blog “I had hope for Racial Justice. Now I see standstill” writes: 

“Now, I write this fully aware that our country has historically flirted with racial progress only to retreat into racial-progress penury. I have experienced first-hand as a leader in the education justice movement how the pendulum swings: In one moment, we in education?crave?courageous conversation about race because race is the most vexing question we face.

Yet, in another moment, we disdain the mere suggestion of race and cling to our convenient but deadly illusion that race or racism doesn’t exist to avoid provoking the tender sensitivities of the racially privileged.” 


Our hope is not to let Racial Justice stand still or fall off the agenda or out of our consciousness. A great person once said: “No one is going to thank you for bringing up Racial Justice but it’s got to be done.” The late Revd Dr. Joel Edwards. 

Let’s confront and acknowledge these injustices, these prejudices, conscious or unconscious biases, and invite dialogue, invite our better selves to see each other as worthy of love, compassion, and kindness. People are suffering. People are sick. People are dying. People are unemployed. People are scared. People are frustrated. People are angry. People are tired. People feel hopeless, disenfranchised, exhausted. People feel desperate. To the breaking point.

Let us lift up all lives and seek to Make A Difference for Everyone. 

  

The Revd Dave Ellis is a regional minister in the Heart of England Baptist Association 

 



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