We’re LIVE now with our in–depth online survey, a new all–island piece of research led by the Irish Council of Churches, Irish Inter–Church Meeting and VOX Magazine, with the support of Evangelical Alliance Ireland, Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland and Tearfund Ireland.
We want to deepen our understanding of the experience of and attitudes towards racism and discrimination in churches in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. We explore the potential for unity, integration and inclusion and examine how the church can lead the way in tackling racial injustice. The survey is anonymous and we hope to gather views from all Christians across the island of Ireland. We estimate it will take about 10–15 minutes to complete.
Are our churches places where all belong equally? Surely, if we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, each a bearer of God’s image, other human–made distinctions should not be allowed so separate or segregate us. But do they, and if so, how?
Of course we have our distinctive traditions and expressions of faith, but do we let those become pillars of our primary identity, or do we recognise them as local expressions of a deeper identity, to which all who seek to follow Christ belong?
In the last couple of years discussions of racism and discrimination have become more prevalent across the island, with divergent narratives evident in concerns about provision of accommodation for people in the asylum systems, and marches in support of Black Lives Matter. As organisations who reach across the island, churches need to be able to speak into these conversations, and the ICC/IICM has been trying to use its voice, particularly in support of people in the asylum systems, as well as to listen to people working at grassroots level to build an inclusive and just society.
Yet if we as churches want to be able to contribute with authenticity and integrity, we need to first look at ourselves. So ICC/IICM, together with our project partners, have decided to undertake research into the experiences of people from ethnic minorities in our churches, as well as the attitudes of church communities towards increasing diversity in their congregations.
We believe this research is an important step in enabling churches to be able to move from welcome to inclusion and to be salt and light across the island of Ireland. To do that we need to know what the barriers to inclusion and fruitfulness in church are for people from ethnic minorities so that we can look more closely at ourselves as individuals and organisations and more truly reflect the call to love our neighbours both within and outside the church.
Please share this widely and encourage your community to respond to the survey.