Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new dawn

It was impossible to watch yeterday's inauguration without sensing that history was being made. Seeing those proud older African Americans see a sight they would never have believed possible cannot fail to have brought a tear to the eye. Truly, anything can happen.

We live in interesting times. The burden of global expectation will lie heavy on Barack Obama'a shoulders. I pray he is encouraged and strengthened by the strong team he has appointed around him, his inspirational family and his firm and radical faith.

At a meeting last week, the Church of England’s Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns discussed the impact of the election of the new American President. In the light of that discussion, the Chair of the Committee, the Revd Rose Hudson Wilkin, has today issued the following statement which I feel is an accurate and prophetic reflection which we all can echoe:

“The election last November of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the USA, culminating in his inauguration today, is a most momentous occasion.

“His election was a truly redemptive moment and one of pride and aspiration for many people. It was a particularly redemptive moment in terms of the legacy that African Americans have endured for over two centuries - and this was not lost on the President elect, Barack Hussein Obama.

“It is totally right that there was joy inside the tears of many for the whole of the United States. But the moment also gave the world a new iconography – a first family that is not defined by any one ethnic group. This is a symbol of immense significance to millions of people, not just in America but across the world.

“The Church of England has a significant number of minority ethnic people among its regular worshippers, and of course among those within its pastoral care. As a Church we must decide on how we will respond in the light of this truly transformative moment. Despite the contentious issues around the world-wide Communion, the election of Obama is a prophetic pointer to the possibilities which open up if hearts and minds have the confidence to change by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has used the term ‘Kairos Time’. This is truly a ‘Kairos Time’ when we urge the Church to begin to nurture a leadership that can engage and function at all levels within it – across all ethnicities – but this must be done intentionally. This affects us as individuals, locally, nationally and internationally through the Anglican Communion. All could reflect on their key aspirations concerning Hope and Transformation in Christ but we call on the Church of England to renew its commitment tangibly to minority ethnic people. This is what Obama's Presidential Campaign was all about, but it is unfinished business in the Church. Can we ever have "business as usual" in our Church again?

“God Bless Barack Hussein Obama, America and our own nation as well.”

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