On the 30th anniversary of the death of Stephen Lawrence, two London Bishops have urged people to choose hope and work for a better world.
The 18 year old was murdered in a racist attack in southeast London in 1993.
A report found the Metropolitan Police's original investigation was hampered by racism.
In statements issued today, Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, and Rt Rev Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Bishop of Croydon, acknowledged how far society, police and the Church still must go in overcoming racism.
Bishop Christopher, who is a member of the House of Lords and chairs the Southwark Diocese Racial Justice Committee, said:
“When Stephen died, so many of us hoped that it would be a wake-up call for our society. We hoped that we would never again have to witness such tragic violence, nor such failings in our police force.
“Stephen’s death marked the beginning of a change in our society – a change that we are still living through. Progress always takes longer than we think it will, but as Christians we are called never to lose hope and to always keep striving for a better world, with urgency and vigour.
“On this Stephen Lawrence Day, let us all take the opportunity to pray and reflect on Stephen’s life and legacy of both change and hope – and let us commit to building a future where our differences are celebrated and all are respected and valued.
“Our hearts go out to Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Stephen’s family with gratitude for all they continue to do to promote racial justice.”
Bishop Rosemarie who leads on racial justice issues for the Diocese of Southwark added :
“Stephen Lawrence was a friend, a brother, a son, a neighbour, taken from us by hatred and racism. His family and community still feel his loss deeply and our hearts still break for them - and for all families who today are missing children, friends and family members because of racially-motivated violence.
“We believe that God delights in our diversity and that we are called to love and respect one another. We believe that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and that all of us equally deserve protection and safety on our streets – as well as justice when we are harmed by others. And yet, thirty years on, the stark reality is that all are not equally safe on our streets - and all do not receive the justice that they deserve.
“Thirty years on, Stephen’s day is a stark reminder for us all of how far we still have to go.”
The Bishop of Burnley Rt Rev Philip North has also released a statement to mark the anniversary :
"Stephen was an ordinary South London teenager; ambitious become an architect as he studied for his A-Levels. He was also black and in 1993 he died in a horrific, unprovoked racist attack.
"Before the first Stephen Lawrence Day in 2019 Stephen's much-admired mother, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, called for greater tolerance in society. I echo this call.
"I also pledge, this Stephen Lawrence Day, that our Diocese will do all we can to oppose racism and racial injustice of all kinds and to work with our partners to ensure that our streets, neighbourhoods and communities are thriving and safe places to live, work and play."
Two men were jailed in 2012 for the killing - one of them will be eligible for parole next year.