Exploring the intersection of Race and Faith. Rev Karlene Kerr is Norwich Anglican Diocese Bishop’s Adviser for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Affairs. She introduced the topic through a review of the history of Christian mission, highlighting its aim of evangelism and colonization. Although she detailed exceptions, black people were stigmatised using the curse of Ham in Genesis, colonization, slavery, and mission was not perceived as having welcome at its heart. As time went on, Africa became more Christian than Europe, with only a third of Christians worldwide being white.
Including current examples of racism, and the latest report by the Church of England “From Lament to Action”, she showed how race was still a factor when practising faith, although God makes us different and equal. Her approach was just right, giving the historical and religious background to racism. She combined relevant knowledge with clear explanations highlighting the problems of Christian “mission” and was happy to refer to her personal experiences and anecdote.
From the responses, she was effective in opening people’s minds to the particular concerns of the black community in the past and continuing today, which perhaps many had not focussed on before and not in dialogue with an erudite professional member of the black community.
Within the past year an elderly resident of a Norfolk village was in hospital and when the black doctor approached his bed in scrubs, asked his wife why the cleaner was asking him so many questions. To have the opportunity to talk with someone like Karlene, herself from Jamaica and coming to England when she was 12, was a valuable experience for our members.
The Seven Principles of Spiritualism. Rona explained her understanding of the 7 Principles of Spiritualism, which form the basis the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU) Spiritualism. Spiritualism follows no creed or dogma and the Principles give guidance to help us in our physical and spiritual life. Each individual may have a different understanding of them depending on their knowledge and spiritual development at various stages of their life.
Modern Spiritualism began on 31st March 1848 when events in Hydesville USA proved beyond doubt that communication with the spirit world was possible. The Seven Principles were brought to us through the mediumship and inspiration of Emma Hardinge Britten (1823 – 1899) and were incorporated into the Memorandum of Association when the Spiritualists’ National Union was formed in 1901.
- The Fatherhood of God. God is Love and Light and is the divine creative source of all that is or ever will be in the universe. We are all part of that creation and contain a spark of that divine energy within us. God loves us all equally.
- The Brotherhood of Man. It follows therefore that we are as one family of siblings and deserve equal love and respect from each other regardless of nationality, sexuality, colour, religion etc.
- The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels. Ancient peoples regularly communed with their ancestors in spirit and since 1848 that communication has become available again through mediums bringing messages from loved ones in the spirit world. Highly evolved souls or Angels also bring us spiritual knowledge and healing.
- The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul. We are all spirits currently experiencing life in a physical body. Spirit is energy and energy can change form but cannot be destroyed so when the body dies, we continue with our life after life. We are all eternal beings.
- Personal Responsibility. We are free to make choices but must then take the consequences of our actions. Thoughts are as important as actions.
- Compensation and Retribution Hereafter for all the Good and Evil Deeds done on Earth. This is also effective in our lives now as every action has a reaction. God is neither vengeful nor judgemental but when we return to the spirit world, we will look at the balance of our lives and judge ourselves in the light of Truth.
- Eternal Progress Open to Every Human Soul. God never gives up on us and no human soul is ever condemned for eternity or denied progress because of any wrongdoings while on Earth. We are guided and supported by those in the spirit world who love us dearly and when we ask for help, we will always be shown the way.
For more information from a source of greater knowledge and experience, Rona recommends going to https://www.snu.org.uk/7-principles to read an article by Minister Barry Oates, who has also written several books about the 7 Principles of Spiritualism and these are available here:-
Funeral and Bereavement Services. Lucy Coote explained her role as Community Ambassador for Rosedale Funeral Homes based in Norfolk and Suffolk. These arrange funerals which are aimed at being personal to the loved one who has died. Lucy also runs community activities to support charities in practical and fundraising ways. She provides Bereavement courses for the Workplace (to have a policy), Families, School students, Ministers and the Police. She encourages people to write down and talk to relatives about their wishes for their own funeral. She made a training video to show what happens at death, and commissioned the Interfaith video on our website.
Support resources: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/
World Religion Day. A group of ten local Bahai’s helped us celebrate annual World Religion Day which the Bahai religion began in 1955. Their presentation focused on their central belief that “unity can be a reality”, that different religions are chapters in the same book. Discussion included not turning one’s back on a former religion but enlarging your vision. Bahai’s are all urged to conduct an independent investigation of faith to transform both your personal life and the community around you. There is one God who has responded to different needs at different times. Bahais, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Spiritualists attending identified common areas of agreement as they talked about their own faith journeys and meeting people from different faiths.
From the Archives and Other Interesting Articles
The following talks were given during Interfaith Week November 2014, marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1. The copyright of these articles remains with the authors.