New book denounces racism afflicting the Church of England and society at large


THE CHURCH is very good at saying all the right things about racial equality.

Make no mistake:—here is a powerful and provocative word to people on both sides of the ocean, wherever racial injustice is found

Rev. Michael B. Curry

But A.D.A France-Williams a priest in the Church of England in an urban parish which is a member of the HeartEdge church network, says 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.

France-Williams has been a priest for 10 years and holds a MPhil in theology as well as a Masters degree in Mission – pic credit: Tim Cole

Through conversation with clergy, lay people and campaigners in the Church of England; his own personal experience – from growing up in Chapeltown, an African-Caribbean suburb of Leeds, via his early involvement with his Parish and then his Priesthood; the use of morality tales; philosophical observations; and historical analysis – all bound together by a poetic and elegant style – 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, A.D.A 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 complete dismantling and reassembling of the ship – before it is too late.

Commenting on the book, Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church said: “Although the subtitle of France-Williams’ new book is ‘Institutional Racism and the Church of England,’ make no mistake:—here is a powerful and provocative word to people on both sides of the ocean, wherever racial injustice is found.

“It’s impossible to turn the pages of Ghost Ship and not find yourself challenged to turn the nightmare around us into God’s dream of a better world.”

The Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Loughborough added: “Through story, poetry and prose, with skill, imagination and humour, France-Williams throws a spotlight on the conscious and unconscious racism that persists in the great ship that is the Church of England.

“The text resonates with anger and deep pain. This book will make many squirm in discomfort but is a must read for those who want to understand more and find a better way.”

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