I enjoy programmes about social history such as A House Through Time where the stories of people who have lived in one particular house are uncovered.
This series features a house in Guinea Street in Bristol which was built by a wealthy slave trader. The street itself was named after the Guinea coast in West Africa which was a hub of the international slave trade. Bristol was to become, at the time, Britain’s biggest slaving port and many of the people who subsequently lived in the house benefited either directly or indirectly from this trade.
A short distance from the house was the Guinea Street Wesleyan (Methodist) Chapel. Having witnessed first- hand the suffering of slaves on plantations in America, John Wesley was one of the first campaigners for the abolition of slavery. He was a powerful orator and in his sermons he would speak out against the slave trade. This was a dangerous thing to do and led to protests against him.
Wesley continued with the campaign throughout his life and one of his last acts was to write to William Wilberforce encouraging him to proceed with the bill to abolish slavery which eventually was passed into law in 1807.
The recent protests in Bristol focussed on the statue of another slave trader, showing the painful legacy that is still with us.
The worldwide protests have also highlighted inequalities that still exist and show that we are not yet where God wants us to be.
1 Corinthians 12:13 says: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
To explore Methodist perspectives and responses to this further, the President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev'd. Dr. Barbara Glasson, has written a personal message and The Methodist Council is undertaking a substantial piece of work to shape the Methodist Church to be an inclusive church.
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.