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bristol cathedral exterior.jpg
bristol cathedral exterior.jpg
World News

Bristol Cathedral to share its links to the slave trade

by Kelly Valencia

Bristol Cathedral is hoping to shed light into its links with the slave trade. 

All God's Children, is an exhibition to help congregants and visitors better understand the church's links with the transatlantic trade of enslaved people. 

Signs depicting the church's connections with slavery will be placed beside memorials and grave-markers.

Rev Mandy Ford, the cathedral's dean told Premier Christian News why the leadership felt it was important to share the history behind its memorials. 

"Most institutions in Bristol have to recognise that we have a legacy of financial involvement, which has come through the benefits gained from the slave economy and Bristol Cathedral is no exception to that.
"We felt that it was really important, first of all, to understand what those links were, and then to work out how we were going to take our cathedral forward, so that it can be a place of warmth, and welcome to every community and a safe place for people to be in to experience so that they can come and meet God there." 

Research into the church's memorial revealed at least 1,000 people were buried or memorialised in the cathedral and its grounds. 

Around 20 per cent of them had a close connection to the slavery-based economy.

In 2020, Bristol became the centre of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK following the death of George Floyd. 

Protesters took to the streets to topple the statue of slave trade merchant Edward Colton, sparking questions about memorials in public buildings and churches, including Bristol Cathedral. 

Many urged the church to remove a stained glass window dedicated to Edward Colston. 

Rev Mandy told Premier they hadn't been able to remove it because "the window is enormous, and would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to remove". 

"What we have done at the moment is to remove the most explicit references to Colston and the question for us next is, do we remove more of the window? Do we change the way we explain what it is? "That's part of this ongoing dialogue. 

"We took some early steps a couple of years ago, but we haven't kind of come to that full conclusion as to the right things to do and interestingly enough, up to now most people that I've spoken to have said they would rather that we explained more about who Colston was and why the window is there and who paid for it, rather than just taking it out and pretending it never happened," Rev Mandy continued.
The exhibition will also raise questions about the responsibility of Christians to counter racism. 

On College Green, outside of the cathedral, portraits, remarks and comments from Christians in Bristol, some of whom live with the legacy of slavery and experience the reality of racism in their everyday lives, will also be displayed.

The exhibition will run from 23rd August 2022 to 21st October 2022.

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