20 January 2023

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: A comment from the TC

Commissioner Anthony Cotterill

A photo of a church service outside at night with people holding candles

Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill reflects on Churches Together in Britain and Ireland's theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18–25 January).

I am greatly encouraged by the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Be-Longing: Praying for Unity Amidst Injustice, says Commissioner Anthony Cotterill. I urge us all to join in exploring how the work of promoting Christian unity can contribute to racial justice across all levels of society.

As I read the Week’s resources from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, I am reminded of the statement Gill and I sent out in June 2020 following the terrible murder of George Floyd, who was among other things a former employee of The Salvation Army. Our hearts were heavy and hurting because of the realisation of the way racism infects our communities, including the Church and, yes, The Salvation Army.

We continue to have a deep longing in our hearts to see a just and inclusive society for those of various ethnic backgrounds both within and outside The Salvation Army. The statement in 2020 said that ‘we will intentionally seek ways to confront and fight racism wherever it is found’. With this intention, in January 2021 the territory’s Cabinet commissioned a Racial Inclusion Working Group (RIWG) to implement recommendations made by our Territorial Advisory Council, recommendations that came largely out of personal conversations with Salvationists and friends from various ethnic origins within our Army.

I am pleased to say that much progress has been made and that many of the recommendations have been completed but there is still much more work to do. For example, we still have too many Salvationists from various ethnicities in our communities across the territory who sadly find it difficult to engage with or be embraced by local expressions of the Army. The reasons for this may be manifold but in essence can be traced to a need for greater love, understanding and determination, which overtakes and corrects what amounts to unrighteousness and injustice. I am certain that the longing for the justice and righteousness as outlined by Isaiah (see Isaiah 1:17) is something that we must all aspire to and so I urge each one of us, in 2023, along with all members of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, to seek justice for all and to help and encourage those who are oppressed.

The RIWG continues to look for ways to ensure greater inclusion but, of course, it was never going to be the responsibility of just one group! We all have a part to play as we long for and work for justice and inclusion for people of every ethnic background in all aspects of our community, including our beloved Army! I am sure God loves this!

Written by

Anthony Cotterill

Commissioner Anthony Cotterill

Territorial Commander

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