College of Bishops statement on slavery and racism

Having witnessed the recent outpouring of anger and hurt by people who are discriminated against because of their ethnicity, the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church wishes to express solidarity with those affected by these issues. We also recognise that our church, like most historic UK institutions, must examine its own history in this regard. Therefore we make the following statement which we offer both to our own diverse church community and as a contribution to the wider conversation.

“The Scottish Episcopal Church believes that all human beings are created in the image of God. We believe that slavery and racism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It pains us to recognise that neither the past nor the present life of our society is immune from the consequences of these evils.

“We acknowledge that the slave trade brought wealth to Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and that our church, like many other institutions in this country, benefited from this wealth (notably in the foundation of a number of our church buildings). We further acknowledge that the attitudes which excused trade in human beings in the past continue to foster both overt and institutionalised racism in our own century. We seek to make ourselves aware of these attitudes, to repent of them and to apologise to all who continue to bear the consequences of slavery and racism.

“We also wish to make clear that modern day slavery in any form is wrong and we will seek to call it out. The gospel imperative is to love our neighbour, to privilege the poor and bind up the broken-hearted. We are called to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Therefore we commit ourselves to continue to work further with all people on existing and new initiatives to eradicate slavery, racism and other injustices in the world today.”