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Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England

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The Church is very good at saying all the right things about racial equality. But the reality is that the institution has utterly failed to back up these good intentions with demonstrable efforts to reform. It is a long way from being a place of black flourishing. Through conversation with clergy, lay people and campaigners in the Church of England, A.D.A France-Williams is The Church is very good at saying all the right things about racial equality. But the reality is that the institution has utterly failed to back up these good intentions with demonstrable efforts to reform. It is a long way from being a place of black flourishing. Through conversation with clergy, lay people and campaigners in the Church of England, A.D.A France-Williams issues a stark warning to the church, demonstrating how black and brown ministers are left to drown in a sea of complacency and collusion. While sticking plaster remedies abound, France-Williams argues that what is needed is a wholesale change in structure and mindset. Unflinching in its critique of the church, Ghost Ship explores the harrowing stories of institutional racism experienced then and now, within the Church of England. Far from being an issue which can be solved by simply recruiting more black and brown clergy, says France-Williams, structural racism requires a wholesale dismantling and reassembling of the ship - before it is too late.


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The Church is very good at saying all the right things about racial equality. But the reality is that the institution has utterly failed to back up these good intentions with demonstrable efforts to reform. It is a long way from being a place of black flourishing. Through conversation with clergy, lay people and campaigners in the Church of England, A.D.A France-Williams is The Church is very good at saying all the right things about racial equality. But the reality is that the institution has utterly failed to back up these good intentions with demonstrable efforts to reform. It is a long way from being a place of black flourishing. Through conversation with clergy, lay people and campaigners in the Church of England, A.D.A France-Williams issues a stark warning to the church, demonstrating how black and brown ministers are left to drown in a sea of complacency and collusion. While sticking plaster remedies abound, France-Williams argues that what is needed is a wholesale change in structure and mindset. Unflinching in its critique of the church, Ghost Ship explores the harrowing stories of institutional racism experienced then and now, within the Church of England. Far from being an issue which can be solved by simply recruiting more black and brown clergy, says France-Williams, structural racism requires a wholesale dismantling and reassembling of the ship - before it is too late.

30 review for Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    It’s not very often, if ever, that I read a theology book like a novel but for this book I did. In fact It was so compelling I could not put it down. An astonishing work, both in terms of the author’s experience and the way it is so beautifully and poetically written. On finishing the book, I was both horrified by what has gone before (and is still happening) and determined to be part of a better future. Everyone in church leadership, lay and ordained, should read this and be challenged by it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    Ghost Ship takes the reader on a journey through different mediums of prose, poetry, reflection, narrative, interviews, history and scriptural study, to enable the painful reality of institutional racism to be starkly mapped out. In this eminently readable book, the author pulls no punches, presents the issues with intelligence and perceptiveness, and challenges assumptions that have been embedded within the Anglican Church. The trauma that racism, exclusion and ‘othering’ has upon black and bro Ghost Ship takes the reader on a journey through different mediums of prose, poetry, reflection, narrative, interviews, history and scriptural study, to enable the painful reality of institutional racism to be starkly mapped out. In this eminently readable book, the author pulls no punches, presents the issues with intelligence and perceptiveness, and challenges assumptions that have been embedded within the Anglican Church. The trauma that racism, exclusion and ‘othering’ has upon black and brown clergy and lay members is laid bare, as well as the impact of tokenism and the denial of experience and defensiveness that arises when the status quo of the ‘Club’ is challenged. The significance of history and its ongoing impact is astutely highlighted as is the decades-long, stuttered journey, that the Church of England has taken to attempt to address these fundamental truths. The combination of different genres help to articulate realities with gravity. For example, the poems by ‘BraveSlave’ (whom the author neither confirms nor denies is an alter-ego), often convey the multiple emotions of experience with heartbreaking candour. The quotations from interviews that France-Williams conducted, again, bring clear and valuable perspective. There was much in this book I related to and much in this book that brought new insight for me. Ghost Ship speaks with a prophetic voice which urgently calls the Church, and all within it, to a dismantling of the ship in its current form, and a radical transformation. Its importance simply cannot be underestimated.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Symon Hill

    This is great. A really powerful, helpful and deeply felt indictment on the Church of England for its racism, and particularly the relatively subtle but ever-present ways in which this racism manifests itself. It is a mixture of various sorts of writing - historial narrative, biblical reflection, poetry, personal memoir, theology and more. It feels like this mixture shouldn't work but on the whole it works remarkably well. The only real downside for me is that it focuses very much on the treatme This is great. A really powerful, helpful and deeply felt indictment on the Church of England for its racism, and particularly the relatively subtle but ever-present ways in which this racism manifests itself. It is a mixture of various sorts of writing - historial narrative, biblical reflection, poetry, personal memoir, theology and more. It feels like this mixture shouldn't work but on the whole it works remarkably well. The only real downside for me is that it focuses very much on the treatment of clergy. This is important - and the evidence presented is shocking - but it is surely only one aspect of the Church of England's institutional racism, albeit one of the most imporant ones. This is a powerful, readable and important book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ms Fiona Lang

    Brilliant. So well written. A D A France-Williams communicates the issues of unconscious bias in relation to race and racism within the CofE. What struck me most was the fact that, until white people are offended by racism, instead of just feeling bad for black and brown people, nothing will ever change. I highly recommend this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    An uncomfortable and challenging read...as it should be. An honest and heart-rending glimpse into the racism present in the Church of England. A must read for all in the CofE and wider, whatever our role and ministry. A book to read bravely, repent honestly and act courageously.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Scott

    Sobering reading. Having read it I'm resolved to examine my 'whiteness', and educate myself on black experience.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Revd. Azariah tells the story of the people of colour and the Church of England, drawing on scripture, story, poetry, truth and the heart. He gives an accurate account of thirty years of missed opportunity, and sets out a vision of a just church, if only this nation could let her flourish.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    'Ghost Ship' opens with a quote from Psalm 137. 'How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?' I think a musical image for this book is very apt. France-Williams presents a variety of voices - there are poems, interviews, personal experiences, historical narratives, important studies and statistics, allegorical stories - which I initially found disorientating. I began to think about the book as a scrapbook, then a patchwork quilt. However, the further I read, the more I began to hear the 'Ghost Ship' opens with a quote from Psalm 137. 'How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?' I think a musical image for this book is very apt. France-Williams presents a variety of voices - there are poems, interviews, personal experiences, historical narratives, important studies and statistics, allegorical stories - which I initially found disorientating. I began to think about the book as a scrapbook, then a patchwork quilt. However, the further I read, the more I began to hear the book as a kind of symphony. The variety of voices create a polyphonic effect, voices and images weaving in and out, repeating, developing and layering up, to form a powerful and impressive song. At it's heart this book is a love song, but one that the powerful within the CofE may find hard to hear. It voices an strong indictment of the Church of England's inability to be a safe, supportive family for black people (particularly black clergy which is the main thrust of the book). In allying itself with power, the CofE is thoroughly compromised. This is an important book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Felicity

  10. 4 out of 5

    Judith I

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Jenkins

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sam Eccleston

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alex S

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zsak Long

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Mullins

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Wells

  18. 5 out of 5

    Helena33

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Cornfield

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Lord

  21. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Lord

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Aike Kennett-Brown

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lottie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alan Wilson

  27. 5 out of 5

    AG

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heather Stanley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bishop D Hamid

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mr Craig

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