British Baptists to go to Jamaica with slave trade apology

By agency reporter
19 May 2008

A delegation representing British Baptists is travelling to Jamaica this Thursday (20 May) to apologise to Jamaican Baptists for the transatlantic slave trade.

During their stay (22 to 29 May) the delegation will have opportunities to meet with Jamaican Baptists and worship in their churches as well as seeing some of the locations which are inextricably bound up with their history.

Plans are in place for the team to take part in two church services on Sunday, May 25 at which time will be given for the Apology to be made and a plaque to be handed over.

The trip follows the commemoration of the bicentenary of the passing of the Act abolishing the Slave Trade in the British parliament in 1807.

Some disappointment was expressed that British Baptists had not offered an apology for the slave trade during the Baptist World Alliance annual gathering in Ghana and this led to a number of letters in the Baptist Times. As a result there was a major discussion at the November session of the Baptist Union Council. Council members then unanimously agreed a resolution offering an ‘apology to God and to our brothers and sisters for all that has created and still perpetuates the hurt which originated from the horror of slavery.’

The Revd Jonathan Edwards, Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) General Secretary said: “The decision to offer an apology for the transatlantic slave trade was an historic moment for the Baptist Union Council. In the statement that was agreed at that meeting it was clearly stated that this was just the start of a journey. Taking the apology to Jamaica in person seemed to many people a vital step on the journey and it is my privilege to participate in it. I very much look forward to meeting our brothers and sisters in the Jamaican Baptist Union and hope that we will learn a great deal more about one another through the week that we share together.”

Baptist World Alliance General Secretary, Neville Callam, who originates from Jamaica, has also affirmed the trip by British Baptists and the Apology that they are giving. “We thank God for the Apology issued by British Baptists in relation to the slavery and the slave trade. As members of the body of Christ, we treasure the solidarity we have in Christ and we know how to respond when fellow Christians admit to wrongdoing, if even by their forebears. We know the joy and the blessing of forgiveness. With this, true healing is possible and liberation becomes the common gain of everyone involved.”

The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) is the Baptist family in England and Wales (there is also the Baptist Union of Wales). It is made up of churches, 13 regional associations, the national resource centre and Baptist colleges.

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