Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

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press release

Jesse Jackson to visit British churches and
promote racial justice



Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is excited to be working in partnership with Regent's Park College, Oxford, to host a visit from Sunday 11th to Wednesday 14th November to London and Oxford by the veteran US civil rights campaigner and religious leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The Rothermere American Institute, Oxford, is also sponsoring Mr Jackson's visit.

During the visit to London, Jesse Jackson will engage with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) in its work for racial justice, especially as this seeks to enable British and Irish churches to be effective agents for social change. Mr Jackson will speak on the involvement of minority ethnic communities in economic development and the building of a just society. He will also address the issue of the empowerment of black and ethnic minority young people in a variety of areas of life. In Oxford, Mr Jackson will lecture on freedom and education within the context of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, and also about his political vision in light of next year's US presidential elections. More generally, Mr Jackson's visit to Britain will also be used to promote the Racial Justice Fund of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, which works with a wide variety of community groups.

In 2005, a delegation from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland visited the USA to see at first hand how Christians in America, with Jesse Jackson at the forefront, continue to lead the fight for racial justice.

Andy Bruce, who has lead responsibility within CTBI's racial justice team (until recently known as the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice), sees the forthcoming visit of Mr Jackson in the following terms, "In 2007, the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act has highlighted the powerful impact of racial injustice upon life in our own society. The British government says it regrets slavery but has not been willing to make an apology, minority ethnic communities continue to suffer disproportionate levels of poverty, crime and social disadvantage, and cultural identity remains one of the most pressing and controversial issues of the day. The constant interaction of CTBI's racial justice team with black and minority churches, and with grassroots racial justice projects, reveals that issues such as gun crime, political disengagement, institutional racism, economic marginalisation, and a sense of cultural alienation remain at the top of the agenda. The insights and perspective Jesse Jackson will bring to Britain and Ireland from his 40 years of social justice work in the US will surely inspire and empower those who continue the struggle on this side of the Atlantic."

In a full programme in Oxford, Jesse Jackson will be the guest of Regent's Park College, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary year as a permanent private hall of Oxford University. His visit to the college will mark and celebrate this anniversary, and Regent's will, in a special ceremony, honour Jesse Jackson by making him an honorary fellow of the college. Among other engagements, Mr Jackson will launch ASPIRE, a major research and empowerment initiative of Regent's Park College in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University, and CTBI's racial justice team.

ASPIRE will carry out research into the reasons behind today's under-representation of black young people in higher education in Britain, and investigate and promote ways to improve access to universities for this group of people. This project stands firmly in the tradition of Regent's Park College, which was founded in the 18th century to enable Protestant dissenters enter higher education. At the time, and until 1854, nonconformist Christians were denied entrance to England's only two universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which accepted only members of the Church of England. ASPIRE will also develop links with young black people, take practical steps to inspire them with the vision of higher education, and encourage their application to higher education institutions.

Media are invited to attend the following events (it will help with arrangements if media could contact the appropriate names given at the end of this release related to the events they wish to attend):

Sunday 11th November, 11 a.m.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson is scheduled to preach in the morning service at The American Church in London, Whitefield Memorial Church, 79a Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 4TD.

Monday 12th November, noon.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland reception followed by a press conference. Venue: CTBI offices, 3rd Floor, Bastille Court. 2 Paris Garden, London, SE1 8ND.

Monday 12th November, 2 p.m.
"Entitled to excellence - inspiring future generations of black Christian leaders in church and society". Meeting with black grassroots activists and partners. Venue: Christ Church, Blackfriars Road, Southwark, London, SE1.

Tuesday 13th November, 6 p.m.
Jesse Jackson will preach at a celebration service at New Road Baptist Church, Bonn Square, Oxford, OX1 1LQ, co-hosted by New Road Baptist Church and Oxford Living Word Fellowship in conjunction with Regent's Park College and Churches Together in Oxfordshire.

Wednesday 14th November, 12.30 p.m.
Launch and press conference (with lunch) in the chapel of Regent's Park College, Pusey Street, Oxford, OX1 2LB. Dr Suke Wolton of Regent's Park College will introduce the ASPIRE (Oxford) project. The Rev. Jesse Jackson will speak in support of ASPIRE, and college principal Dr Robert Ellis will then officially launch the initiative. A press conference will follow.

Wednesday 14th November, 4 p.m.
Public lecture and honouring ceremony in Helwys Hall at Regent's Park College for Oxford University students and invited university guests. Jesse Jackson will lecture on freedom and education within the context of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act by the British Parliament.

A ceremony will immediately follow the lecture during which Regent's Park College will honour the Rev. Jesse Jackson as an internationally recognised politician, civil rights campaigner and church leader by conferring on him the title of Honorary Fellow of Regent's Park College, Oxford.

Wednesday 14th November, 7.30 p.m.
Political seminar hosted by the Rothermere American Institute, 1A South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UB. Jesse Jackson will speak on "The American Election of 2008". Very limited space for media is available.


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