Same questions: different contexts?
The Susanna Wesley Foundation (SWF) is compiling for its library a list of statements, publications and resources which address questions of diversity and which have been produced by the Churches in Britain from about 1950 onwards.
Diversity in leadership and ministry is one of the Foundation’s key research themes, and we are pursuing projects which explore issues around difference, inclusion and participation in relation to leadership and ministry in churches and faith communities. It is our hope that at SWF we can bring together in one place a comprehensive collection of the resources that have been developed to address questions of diversity and inclusion, both to provide insights around the Churches’ historical engagement with questions of equality, diversity and inclusion and to inform SWF’s current and future research, (which may, in turn, influence future policy and practice in the Churches.)
Two things emerged at an early stage in this work: first, in most cases the Churches do not have in readily accessible form a complete record of the different resources that have been produced over the past decades – different departments and working groups have undertaken a range of pieces of work and there has been little or no attempt to develop a connected story; second, it is not clear how far relevant insights are being used to influence current debates and policies in the Churches.
Ermal Kirby writes: ‘Two questions came to dominate the debate in the recent EU Referendum campaign – immigration and the economy. Many of the reports of the past have a direct bearing on the attitudes to refugees and migrants and people in economic need; even the titles send a clear message: Rainbow Gospel; One Race; Belonging to Britain; Members One of Another; Strangers No More. This is just a sample of the rich heritage that we share, but there was little evidence of the Churches inviting people to draw from that well as they looked to the future.’
We are keen to hear from anyone who has been involved in producing such resources and invite you to send your contact details and information about your material to SWF@roehampton.ac.uk.