The vigil held at 2pm in the Town Square on 14th June was attended by 20 Church leaders and a few others from across the wide Christian traditions in Northampton.
When asked about what motivated him, Bishop Donnovan Allen from the New Testament Church of God, who organised the event said it was ‘ simply to reach out to our Caucasian leaders and let them know that we have to journey together because it’s the will of God for this time. I wanted to light a litmus paper on deep reflection for both sides. I also felt that we needed to do this publicly as ministerial colleagues in prayer.’
In reflecting on the aims and objectives, Bishop Allen said ‘ It was to start some element of healing on both sides. We were badly hurt inside but I also feel that they themselves needed help to express their own concern over this issue. I also felt that the best thing to do was to meet and pray in the open space because George Floyd was killed in the open space too.’
The group comprising of black and white men and women, clergy and laity adopted the posture of ‘bowing the knee’ in prayer for 8mins and 46 seconds in solidarity with the protest against the treatment of black people across the globe but also to demonstrate our belief that all life matters and merits equal value and respect.
Many were particularly touch by Rev Paul Lavender’s bold request for forgiveness on behalf of white people for the years of pain and injustice black people have had to encounter. Bishop Allen said this was one of the highlights for him. He said ‘I wasn’t expecting that from anyone, but I have the utmost respect for this man of God who was honest to say that to us. As life is in the power of the tongue, I sense he spoke life over our lives and we in turn will speak life over the pain which could have caused death to our collegial spirit with each other.’
There was the sense that this simple act of unity in the midst of the painful reality was an significant and catalytic marker to the beginning of the end of a very long journey. It is hoped that Churches Together in Northampton will build on this event and ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’.
Rev Phyllis Thompson