Their first meeting, held at Operation Black Vote’s offices in Bethnal Green, London, sought to have a conversation with Black activists, NGO’s and campaigners. Amongst those who attended were Superintendent Leroy Logon, anti-gang campaigner Sheldon Thomas, head of BARAC Lee Jasper, NCLF Steering Group members Celia Apeagyei-Collins, Ade Omooba, and David Muir.
Chairing the meeting Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, also of Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs, Churches Together in England stated:
This all came about during a church leaders meeting in which participants wanted the Black-led churches to engage in a nationwide voter registration campaign, and to formulate a Black church manifesto. We know that there are many spiritual, socio-economic and political issues facing our communities, and we want to show leadership both with knowledge and a great sense of purpose.
Echoing the sense of purpose theme, Celia Apeagyei-Collins stated: This is our ‘Kairos’ moment! She was referring to the South African Black church document published in 1985. A theological document that galvanized the Black churches into political action by using scripture as a tool to mobilize resistance to the apartheid regime. She concluded: ‘A generation of Black church goers, and wider community, will not forgive us if we do not seize this moment.’
Sheldon Thomas urged the Church leadership to ‘listen’ to those youths who were deeply cynical of both politicians and the church leadership. After four hours of discussion and debate, the gathering left the OBV offices much better informed, united towards a common cause, with spirits raised that this indeed could be our ‘Kairos’ moment.
The next Focus Group meeting of academics and theologians will be at the Queens Foundation, Edgbaston, Birmingham 2-6pm on 8 October 2012.
The next series of Focus Group meeting dates re Black Church and Political Mobilisation are:
Black Church Political Manifesto Discussion with Academics
Monday 8 October 2012, 2-6PM, Queens Foundation, Temporary Lecture Room, Somerset Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2QH
Voter Registration Seminar with Black Church Leaders (Birmingham)
Saturday 13 October 2012, 7-9PM, New Testament Church of God Brookfield (The Rock), New Spring Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 7LG
Voter Registration Focus Service
Sunday 14 October 2012, 10.30AM-1PM, New Testament Church of God Brookfield (The Rock), New Spring Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B18 7LG
Black Church Political Manifesto Discussion with Church Leaders
Monday 12 November 2012, 2-6PM, Leadership Training Centre, N T C G, 1-3 Horseshoe Street, Northampton NN1 1TB
of academics and theologians will be at the Queens Foundation, Edgbaston, Birmingham 2-6pm on 8 October 2012.