Andrena, 43, started attending Girls’ Brigade (GB) in 1987 and, until last year, was a leader at 1st Forest Hill community group. She’s also been a leader at groups in Bristol and Leeds, and Deputy District Team Leader for the Meridian District. As well as being a GB leader, Andrena is a licensed lay worker with an Anglican church, a Pioneer Evangelist with Church Army, Hackney Centre of Mission, and will soon be an Evangelist-In-Training.
Andrena has written a blog for Church Army about her experiences, which can be read here.
Here she shares some of her thoughts with us on Black Lives Matter in her context as a Girls’ Brigade community group leader…
Here’s a little bit of my family history… My Mum was born in London in 1955, a year after her parents were married. My Grandparents came to this country in 1952 from Jamaica in the West Indies. Those who arrived from Caribbean countries to the UK between 1948 and 1971 have been labelled the Windrush Generation.
My Grandad came on the North Star boat into Tilbury Docks. This journey took 11 days. He had money, so a room and board was paid for in advance. My Grandparents came to the UK to find ‘a better life’ – following friends and relatives who had been here after fighting for the British Armed forces in World War Two, and the call to help rebuild the weakened UK economy following the war. It’s a shame that many of the Windrush Generation didn’t feel welcome by many people in the UK – unfortunately this included the welcome of some of our church congregations and pastors.
I was one of very few black girls in the Sunday school, youth group and GB, but I NEVER felt bullied or harassed – I was always a part of the GB family.
On 8 June 2020, The Archbishop of Canterbury said in a video on Twitter ‘The racism that people in this country experience is horrifying. The Church has failed here, and still does, and it’s clear what Jesus commands us to do: repent and take action’. I’d hate to hear of any rejection for any leader who offered support to a GB group.
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was the recipient of injustice and was the object of extraordinary police brutality (Matthew Ch.26:59-68), yet Jesus commands us to love one another (Philippians Ch.2:3-5, Matthew Ch.22:34-40).
My GB groups have been like a family to me – we’re sisters, whichever age, nationality or colour we are. We support one another in prayer and encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians Ch.5:11 (NIV) says ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’.
Like every person who was ever born, we are ALL created in the image of God (Genesis Ch.1:27) and that’s why Black Lives Matter is so important regardless of what you look like.
Girls’ Brigade Ministries believes in a just society where all people are equally valued and loved by God and, therefore, we stand with Black Lives Matter.
Through the equipping of our staff and volunteers, we seek to ensure that those involved in work for and with children and young people promote positive attitudes toward all groups and individuals with whom they have contact. This commitment extends to all regardless of colour, race, nation of origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibilities for dependants, marital status, age, disability, ability or background, or any other circumstance.
We’re committed to encouraging and equipping each member to explore, identify and utilise their God-given gifts and to providing opportunities for each person to fulfill their potential as the person that God created them to be.
We pray for our sisters and brothers, both here in the UK and worldwide, who are experiencing and coming face to face with the ugly face of racism, injustice and prejudice. We pray for God’s justice and peace.
We must always reflect on how we live up to our values and where there is any unconscious bias to privilege, discrimination and injustice. We therefore welcome and endorse the expression that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and re-commit ourselves to speak out and stand up against every form of racism.