A group of Christians from Jamaica is visiting the UK to meet fellow church leaders to discuss restorative justice. For them, the church denominations involved in the transatlantic slave trade should consider making financial restitution to black communities still experiencing the harmful effects of enslavement and hear what UK churches have to say on the subject.
All members of the Jamaican delegation belong to the Church Reparation Action Forum (CRAF), founded in 2019 to be the voice of the church in Jamaica on reparations.
Rev Collin Cowan is part of the delegation and he's been speaking to Premier Christian News about the visit.
"The transatlantic slave trade was a sin against humanity. What it has done is to destroy the relationship that God intended between and among all human beings. Therefore we are approaching the reparation question from a faith perspective. Our question is whether it is possible to repair the damage that has been done to the relationships between us. Once that is done, whether it is possible for us, then to consider financial reparation. To that end, we are meeting with the churches here to see whether we can find common ground.
"What we're doing with our church leaders here in the UK is to see how we can have a common language, a common cause, a common commitment to lobby for justice relationships, where we can live together in peace and justice. And on that basis, to begin to ask how then do we repair the psychological damage? How do we repair the social infrastructure? How do we ensure that education is better? How do we ensure that the economic landscape works better for all people? So we begin with relationships and move toward the kind of social infrastructure that would make life better for people."
During their time in the UK, the delegation is meeting representatives from various church denominations and organisations, including The Quakers, Churches Together in England, the Evangelical Alliance, the Church of England, the New Testament Church of God, and the National Church Leaders Forum.
Rev Cowan says it's important to note that it's not just about financial reparation but about seeking to redress the emotional and psychological harm enslavement caused within black communities.
"The spiritual reparation is about acknowledging the sin that we have committed, apologising for that sin, and repenting. Literally committing ourselves to returning to what God intended human beings to be, across race, across ethnic groups, across generations so that together, we may live the full and wholesome life that God intended for us.
"Once that is done, then the financial reparation is what a lot of experts are already calculating. But we didn't want to go there, because our point is that it doesn't matter how much money you give, if you do not repair the relationships, that money would not go far."