Sitting in the liminal space between L8 and L1
A Blog on behalf of the Chapter of Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral is a cathedral on a hill – partly in L8 and partly in L1. Originally built to look out toward the river and out into the ocean. Reflecting something of the past glory of the city but imagining a bright future. A beacon of hope for Christian faith and the City and Diocese of Liverpool. This was not a light hidden under a bushel. It is a statement about who we think we are.
So, who do we think we are? What is the heritage that this place is built on and what is the story that we tell – the story of our past and the story of our future – particularly concerning racial justice?
We know we are not diverse enough, we do not reflect enough of the diversity of our postcodes. We know we need to do better. We are currently undertaking a diversity survey to discover more about who we are. We are also looking at how we can strengthen our recruitment policies so we attract more diversity into the workplace, our worship and through our visitor attractions.
We also know we need to look closely at what we are and how we have got to where we are now. Liverpool Cathedral Chapter has committed to telling the story of our connections to historical slavery. Though, as the cathedral was built after slavery was abolished, and as such the cathedral did not benefit directly from the proceeds of slavery, nevertheless we are aware of some links to families who did contribute to its building. In partnership with the Diocese we have commissioned a Slavery Truth Project which will explore these links, tell the stories and ask questions about what we do next. This is part of our on-going relationships with the Diocese of Virginia in USA and Kumasi in Ghana – through the Triangle of Hope and Tsedaqah the missional community of young people that live on Lady Chapel Close at the Cathedral.
This work has led us to begin a series of racial justice conversations:
During our Lent Lectures this year we explored issues concerning racial justice, historical slavery and modern slavery. You can hear members of the Triangle of Hope speak about the project as part of the Lent Lectures here.
While the Peace Doves were here we held a Vigil for Peace.
One of our key speakers was Adeyinka Olushonde who is the research officer of the Slavery Truth Project. Adeyinka is training for ordination and undertaking Phd research on slavery, offence and reconciliation. You can watch Adeyinka’s talk here .
What does it mean when God is presented as male?
What does it mean when – from our internal assumptions to our shared cultural imaginings – God is presented as white?
These are the urgent questions Chine McDonald asks in a searing look at her experience of being a Black woman in the white-majority space that is the UK church – a church that is being abandoned by Black women no longer able to grin and bear its casual racism, colonialist narratives and lack of urgency on issues of racial justice.
Part memoir, part social and theological commentary, God Is Not a White Man is a must-read for anyone troubled by a culture that insists everyone is equal in God’s sight, yet fails to confront white supremacy; a lament about the state of race and faith, and a clarion call for us all to do better.
You can watch the Micah Lecture here .
Another useful book to read that focuses in on the city, cathedral, diocese and our churches historical slavery connections is Two Triangles:
Two Triangles has been commissioned by the Diocese of Liverpool as part of their reconciliation programme – Triangle of Hope. This has seen us partnering with the Dioceses of Virginia and Kumasi to explore the painful legacy of the slave trade; to educate present generations around the danger posed by modern slavery and to offer reconciliation for past ills.
Two Triangles takes us on this journey showing how the church endorsed and profited from the evil commoditisation of human beings alongside a city that was built on the back of the slave trade. Showing how the triangle of trade between Liverpool, America and Africa operated and how the unimaginable suffering of the African people was justified theologically. But it builds to a story of hope as it shows how the modern church is committed to turning this triangle of despair into one of hope.
We are committed to conversations and actions that will enable us to participate in telling the truth about our history, engaging in actions that lead to reconciliation and building an inclusive future together. We long to be a place where all can encounter something of the love of God. We pray we can be a stronger safer liminal space between L1 and L8 somewhere where all stories are told and all are welcome.