We have been saddened to witness the reaction to a recent Tweet by Rev Jarel Robinson-Brown. Even though Rev Jarel apologised for the Tweet, he has been subjected to serious abuse on social media. Even now we hear that a petition is going around obtaining signatures from those who want to see him punished.
As a network of people working for racial justice, inclusion, participation, and equity we are concerned by the intensity and the negativity of this reaction. If unchecked, this could have a chilling effect on the participation of minority ethnic people at the very moment the Church was making progress in that area.
We were disappointed that the first statement issued by the Diocese of London emphasised Rev Jarel’s wrongdoing, which might have contributed to the escalation of the abuse and calls for his removal from his ministry. Racist abuse must always be unequivocally rejected and condemned. It is our expectation that all dioceses exercise zero-tolerance against racism and stand with their Minority Ethnic clergy and laity.
We are reassured by the latest statement from the Bishop of London that describes the Diocese’s commitment to providing pastoral care and support for Rev Jarel. We hope that the Diocese of London and all dioceses learn from this episode to show greater awareness on the issue of racism and the need to protect the Minority Ethnic clergy in their care.
AMEN stands in solidarity with Rev Jarel and have reached out to him with an offer of support. As has been noted by others and can be seen from his recent work, Rev Jarel takes seriously his vocation as a theologian who speaks prophetically to the Church and to society. It is important that such voices are protected and not silenced.
AMEN will continue to work for the greater participation of people of Minority Ethnic heritage in the Church of England, and we remain hopeful about how God is changing our Church. We will play our part to see that this unfortunate episode does not do lasting damage. We will also continue to pray for Rev Jarel, the leaders of the Diocese of London, and the whole Church at this difficult time.
8th February 2021