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Reflections for Black History Month

Black History Month is an occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black people to British society. It also serves as an opportunity to inspire and empower future generations. This year, the theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’ highlights the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. 

Events will be taking place across the Diocese, including an exhibition called ‘Resolved to Serve’ at University Church, Oxford. The exhibition was curated by The Reverend Polly Falconer, UKME Development Enabler in the Diocese of Oxford, and the Right Reverend Dr Tim Wambunya, Vicar of St Paul's Church, Slough, and Honorary Assistant Bishop for the Diocese of Oxford. This exhibition is drawn from poignant reflections shared by Black African and Caribbean clergy from across the diocese, about their lives and faith. 

The Revd Janet Binns is the Dean of the Diocese of Oxford’s UK Minority Ethnic Chapter, thought to be the first of its kind in the Church of England. Janet reflected on the meaning of Black History Month. 

“You look back at your heritage, you look back at your forefathers and your ancestors and the journey that they've been on, and that then forms who you are as a person. It's really important to look at the history of where we've come from and be able to see the journey that people have been on to enable us to be where we are today.  

And then also, how do we take that into the next generation? I feel that we have a responsibility to nurture those who are coming after us, and that's what our UKME chapter is all about, we're about helping and nurturing people into ordained ministry, into licensed lay ministry - people of colour or people of UK minority ethnic backgrounds who may not consider ordained ministry as something for them, but [the Chapter can] nurture them so they can become the person or the people that God wants them to be.” 

The Revd David Nyirongo, community missionary at New Hope, Greyfriars in Reading, shared his belief that it’s important not to erase history. 

“I’m glad that we’re celebrating Black history because a lot of things have been achieved. 

“It’s good as we talk about government and engage with the change - there were statues and what should we do with them, having those conversations.  

“I am against erasing history, I'm for, ‘what good is there?’ Not just for Black people, but everybody is celebrated, because it's people that transform and change society.” 



The Revd Nnamdi Maduka, Associate Minister at St Mary's, Denham, gave words of encouragement to other Black people for Black History Month. 

“It is a great time for people to come together, to celebrate and to be able to understand, because most of the time we need to listen to one another to know what they're going through, to be able to encourage them and to build up a society that is strong.  

“Everyone is needed, everyone has got their own gift. You cannot rule yourself out, there is still a place for you... It's not going to be easy, but you can still go through. All you need to do is to show what you have and demonstrate it. Everybody should be comfortable in where God has blessed them because God, God is a great designer.” 

The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Wambunya, vicar of St Paul’s Slough, the Diocese of Oxford’s intercultural mission resourcing hub, reflected on the changing landscape of the Church of England. 

“The terrain has really changed compared to when we were coming forward for ministry. I remember when I was ordained and the whole of the London Diocese had approximately 600 clergy, there was just about two or three Black clergy at that point, and it was seen as such a strange thing to have a Black person coming forward for ministry. I remember I was on the front page of the Church Times just because I was Black, not because I'd done something extraordinary, but now things are better.  

“It's more acceptable for Black people to go forward for ministry, and so I say, if you're a Black person, especially a Black man, who feels God is calling them, then you need to step forward, you take the initiative and say 'here I am, Lord, if you're calling me I'm prepared to come forward and serve.'” 

Nine interviews are available to watch in full now. 
Visit the exhibition, which will be on from 1st October – 15 December 

Page last updated: Monday 2nd October 2023 3:24 PM
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