The 1969 World Council of Churches Notting Hill Consultation: Anti-Racism, Allyship, Action

(This is the text of a talk given on 26th June 2019, at the Sion Centre for Dialogue and Encounter.)

The 1969 World Council of Churches Notting Hill Consultation: Anti-Racism, Allyship, Action


Just over 50 years ago in May of 1969, in a small ecumenical centre on Denbigh Road just around the corner from here, there was a deeply important Consultation on White Racism organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC).  Although seemingly forgotten in popular memory, this Consultation was revolutionary in that it resulted in the WCC funding armed liberation movements in southern Africa and elsewhere.

There is so much ground to cover here and I hope I manage to do it justice. For instance, we might ask how such a momentous event occurred in a small ecumenical centre in Notting Hill? How did the World Churches come to take that kind of action? What kinds of arguments were being made by activists, Christians and others, at that time? To try to answer those questions and others, I am going to cover 4 areas:

  • Firstly say a little something about the team of Methodist ministers who managed the ecumenical centre that the Consultation was housed in. This is because I see parallels between the receptiveness of the World Council to the activists at the Consultation, and the receptiveness of the Team Ministry to the needs of the disenfranchised of Notting Hill.
  • Secondly, I will say something about the evolution in the World Council’s thinking about ‘race’ and racism throughout the sixties: you don’t go from pacifism to funding armed liberation movements overnight!
  • Next, I will talk about the event in terms of some of the more meaningful discussions and arguments heard over those 6 days.
  • And finally, I will talk a little bit about the legacy of the Consultation in terms of the Programme to Combat Racism and the Special Fund.

I also want to use this talk to think through the concept of being an effective ally, because there is quite a lot of talk about this in academic and activist circles about this at the moment. So, I’m going to define what it means to be an ally and then ask you to hold that in mind as I talk about the events 50 years ago.

An ally is a member of a privileged group who advocates against oppression. An ally works to create social change rather than participate in oppressive actions. An ally understands that their perspective is subordinate to the person or group they are seeking to ally themselves to. It’s important to remember that being an ally is an ongoing process: it’s a lifelong commitment – something you do, not something you are. In that sense, it’s a verb, not a noun.

I’ve brought up the concept of allyship for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I think that the Team Ministry did a pretty good job of being allies throughout the sixties. Secondly, because I think the WCC setting up the Special Fund of the Programme to Combat Racism is an absolutely exemplary example of what it means to be an ally. I also think that it provides us with a model for the kinds of work we still need to be doing.

For those who don’t know, I wrote my PhD thesis on English Christians and ‘race relations’ in the 1960s, with specific reference to the work of the Team Ministry based at the Notting Hill Methodist Church (NHMC). I like to think of the subject of my PhD as a happy accident as I did not start out as I finished, which is probably true of most PhD theses. At some point in my first year, I was lucky enough to interview the radical black activist Sivanandan, and he told me about a Christian Consultation which had radicalised him in a positive way. Honestly, listening to him speak of a Christian Consultation as a transformative event for him as a radical and a non-Christian shocked and surprised me. And that shock and surprise told me that I needed to learn more about the event, so I visited the archives of the WCC in Geneva to find out more.

I think I spent most of my time in Geneva with my jaw dropped on the floor: partly because of how expensive that city is but mostly because of what I found in the files relating to the 1969 Consultation, which I will come to later. Now I want to talk about why I came to situate my thesis not in the WCC but in a Methodist church in Notting Hill.

I was of course intrigued as to why such a momentous event was held in a small Ecumenical Centre in west London as opposed to a bigger venue like Church House, and in going through the background files, I came across letters from one Revd David Mason of the Notting Hill Methodist Church. Now my attention was drawn to him not because I understood the relationship between the NHMC and the Ecumenical Centre at that point, but because the content and tone of his letters was qualitatively different from that of the other white British Christians in those files.

It is common knowledge that most white Christians in the UK were not welcoming or friendly towards black people in the post-WW2 period. They either behaved coldly and distantly to black arrivals at church, or blatantly told first-time black visitors to not come back. This racism and rejection was broadly true of all white British people, church-goers or otherwise, in the 1950s and 1960s. However, rather than owning that racism and rejection, there was a simultaneous social construction of what I like to call ‘the myth of tolerance’. As in, there was a complete denial of that racism even as it was being practised. So what drew my eye to David Mason? It was simply that he acknowledged the existence of racism in Britain and was asking the WCC what more could be done to fight it.

David Mason was one of three ministers assigned to the NHMC on Lancaster Road in the 1960s. The other two were Geoffrey Ainger and Norwyn Denny. These three figures comprised the core Team Ministry, but they collaborated with other Christians to form a wider Group Ministry. This Group Ministry comprised of their wives, as well as ministers from other denominations such as Bruce Kenrick who founded the Notting Hill Housing Trust and the charity Shelter. But there were several others involved as well.

The point of having a team of ministers was so that the individual talents of each minister could flourish and also because the problems of inner-city life were considered too great for any one minister to be able to adequately address. As such, Mason’s responsibility was social and political involvement; Denny’s was pastoral care; and Ainger’s was outreach and experimentation. All three were also members of the Methodist Renewal Group and can be said to have been a part of the current of radical, social Christianity of the sixties, as exemplified in the figures of John Robinson and Trevor Huddleston.

These three spheres of interest were also reflected in the three organisations attached to the Team Ministry. Denny’s focus on pastoral care led him to be primarily responsible for the Lancaster Road church. Mason’s politics led him to found the Notting Hill Social Council from which sprung many actions and campaigns designed to improve working-class lives. And Ainger was primarily responsible for the Ecumenical Centre which was in the site of a second Methodist church in Denbigh Road, and which housed the World Council’s Consultation in 1969.

I’m now going to look at what I think are the two most important aspects which made the ministers’ work unusual and successful, and why I think we can view them as allies to the working class people, black and white, Christian and otherwise, of 1960s Notting Hill.

The first aspect is their philosophy of ’empty-handedness’ which was fundamentally about their willingness to listen. By ’empty-handedness’ they meant that the church should go into an area where the church had failed and, in Ainger’s words, ‘listen for the Word of God which is being spoken to her precisely through her failure and her state of ’emptyhandedness’. […] This listening does not, of course, counsel either despair or retreat, but a faithful using of our failure which looks to the promise of a ‘newness’ in our perception of the Word which will spell the renewal of the Church and the end of secular indifference’.

This philosophy required them to go outside the church walls and stand before the community they wished to serve and listen for what was required. I think this was probably the most radical aspect of the Team Ministry’s work in some ways. Listening is deceptively simple, but it requires a humility that many people, especially authority figures, rarely embody. In foregrounding listening, the ministers found themselves doing the work the community wanted and deemed necessary, rather than dictating to the community what it should want and need. It is this type of approach which I think is an excellent example of allyship. For instance, rather than expecting black newcomers to conform to English styles of worship, they created new service styles for the newcomers, including forming House Churches which were not a part of traditional Methodism at all.

A second way that I think the Team Ministry did well as allies, is in respect of their political engagement, which was intimately related to their willingness to partner with other people and organisations, Christians and otherwise. The political engagement was mainly done through Mason’s brainchild: the Notting Hill Social Council. It was then the ‘secular’ wing of the church designed to provide a space whereby all members of the wider Notting Hill community, both as individuals and as organisations, could come together to effect change. This aspect of partnership is a key point and was fundamental to the life of the Social Council: for whilst the Social Council was rooted in a particular socially conscious Christian theology, the Team Ministry believed that it would be a ‘retrograde step’ were they only to work with other Christians.

Over the course of the decade, the Social Council undertook many, many community improvement efforts. Sometimes the ideas originated with the core Social Council members, and sometimes other people would come to their open monthly meetings and ask for support. Sometimes the ventures were done in partnership with other organisations, and sometimes they were undertaken by the Social Council alone. For instance, they did a lot of work with youth gangs, with drug addicts, and ran several conferences over the decade. In partnership with others, they also were involved in a legal advice centre, a large-scale housing activism project, and the Kensington and Chelsea Inter-Racial Council, to name a few.

In the end, what made the Team Ministry special is that they did not run away from the politics of the 1960s like many Christians did. Instead they actively embraced those socially conscious and often radical politics. They stayed, they fought, and they sincerely tried and for that they should be remembered as good, although sometimes imperfect, allies to the various social justice campaigns they supported and were involved in.

So that is a little bit about the Team Ministry and the Notting Hill Methodist Church, but what about the changes that were going on in the World Council of Churches during the 1960s in respect of their thinking about ‘race’ and racism? Because obviously a Consultation which critically and specifically focused on white racism did not come out of nowhere.

If we examine the public statements of the WCC throughout the 1960s, it is easy to see a strengthening of position in respect of anti-racism. By the Mindolo Consultation in 1964, and in response to African voices saying that violence was becoming unavoidable due to the failures of peace, the WCC noted the guilt of white Christians in terms of their long involvement with, and responsibility for, oppressive situations in southern Africa.

By the 1966 Church and Society Conference in Geneva, there was a concern to situate racism in the structural and economic spheres. They acknowledged that the ‘white race’ dominated the world both economically and politically, and that this domination prevented the development of an authentic human community both nationally and internationally. Christian reconciliation now demanded personal sacrifice, an identification with the oppressed, and a determination to break down unjust patterns through action.

The Fourth Assembly of the WCC in Uppsala saw a further and significant strengthening of this position. The language used now was urgent: racism robbed human rights of all meanings, was a denial of the Christian faith, and an imminent danger to world peace. Importantly though, the Uppsala Assembly saw the world churches directed to the phenomenon of white racism for the first time. This was due to an increasing awareness of the growing divide between the ‘haves and have nots’, and of how power and money was split along global racial lines.

The African-American writer James Baldwin made a hard-hitting speech at the Assembly entitled ‘White Racism or World Community’. In the speech, he told his audience that, as a black man, he addressed them as one of God’s creatures whom the Christian Church had most betrayed. This was a damning statement which deeply affected many Christians. Weaving the history of Christianity with the history of slavery, Baldwin warned his audience that this had taught him to disregard the words of the Christian church and to instead concentrate on its deeds. And more, as a black man, he said that the destruction of the Christian Church as it was presently constituted may not only be desirable but may also be necessary.

All of this led the WCC to a position which saw them rooting and historicising racist oppression in colonial, Christian, and Enlightenment pasts. They first noted that the racialised clashes which were occurring all over the world at that time were the legacy of European colonisation and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

From that colonial history, they further confessed Christian ownership of the past by noting how Christianity had been used to legitimise the slave trade. White Christians first claimed to be Christianising infidels, but once Africans had begun to adopt Christianity, white Christians claimed that Africans were the descendants of Ham, upon whom was placed the Biblical curse of blackness and perpetual servitude.

Next, the World Council traced the Enlightenment legitimisation of racist scientific doctrines, followed by their subsequent undermining post-Holocaust. However, despite changes to how race was viewed post-WW2, the World Council noted that only the visible part of the iceberg of racism had been removed. They observed that whilst the doctrine of racism had lost its respectability as a consequence of the Holocaust, the global economic power structures which supported and perpetuated racism remained unchanged.

So by the time of the 1969 Consultation, we can think of the WCC as having made 5 acknowledgements which represented a tremendous shift in Christian thinking about ‘race’ and racism. Those were:

  1. The economic complicity of the churches with racism,
  2. an admission that this was undermining the credibility and integrity of the church,
  3. the subsequent necessity of racialised identities as part of fighting back against white racism (in other words, accepting Black Power rather than insisting on a universalised Christian identity),
  4. the need for white Christians to place black voices and black lives first,
  5. and the redefinition of Christian ethics to come in line with the oppressed.

Okay, so now it’s time to talk about the event that we are commemorating: the World Council of Churches Consultation on White Racism held over 6 days – the 19th to the 24th May 1969 – just over fifty years ago.

The Notting Hill Consultation included various activities from bible study, formal presentations, evening prayers, and panel discussions. The WCC calls for a Consultation when it needs to make a decision on a matter, and this Consultation was a way of making decisions on the theme of white racism. The Notting Hill Consultation sought to explore two main areas: the nature, cause, and consequences of racism, specifically white racism; and to evaluate Christian positions on racism and to set forth a new programme of education and action for the WCC and its members. The Consultation brought together 40 Christian participants and 25 consultants who had practical and personal experience in racial confrontations around the world. The consultants themselves were not necessarily Christian and all were critical of the churches in general.

Needless to say, the Consultation was a significant moment in global history and the decisions made as a consequence of it would impact many more than the global Christian community. Before talking more about the Consultation itself, it is important to remind ourselves of the general milieu in which the Consultation sat.

The 1960s witnessed the passing of the Civil Rights Bill in the USA, two Race Relations Acts in the UK, and the rise of Black Power movements globally. It had also seen South African apartheid strengthen, seen British nationality narrow and whiten, seen the rise of Powellism, and witnessed the murders of Eduardo Mondlane, Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Furthermore, there had been vicious colonial violence in certain parts of Africa and the independence of many African and Caribbean countries had been achieved. Not to mention a brutal and bloody war in Vietnam, and leaders from the global south speaking at the United Nations in their own right for the first time.

Given this global context and the framework provided by the Uppsala Assembly, it is clear as to how the themes of Black Power and white racism came to dominate the Notting Hill event. And as with the Team Ministry, key to the eventual success of the Consultation and its consequential impact was the commitment of the world churches to listen to the black voices of the world. As both James Baldwin and the Presbyterian minister GS Wilmore had pointed out: should the churches choose not to listen to black voices, nor act with any urgency in the areas black people outlined, then the future of the church was no longer certain.

So much happened over the course of those 6 days 50 years ago and I have struggled to think how best to summarise them for this talk. Not only was there jaw droppingly revolutionary Black Power speeches, not only was there strong and strident critiques of the global capitalist system and related white supremacy, not only was the event stormed by the National Front, not only was it also gate-crashed, on a separate day, by Black Power activists who read a series of demands for reparations, but some of what was said would still be relevant and useful to those of us today who wish to work towards radical global change.

I have already said something about how the churches viewed the relationship between capitalism and racism by the end of the sixties, so I won’t say anything more on that other than to say that it was a theme which continued strongly into the Consultation. It was raised by speakers like Sivanandan, Oliver Tambo, Trevor Huddleston, Daisuke Kitagawa, and the American civil rights activist Roger Harless to name a few.

Instead, I will focus more on how Black Power was articulated by the ANC activist Oliver Tambo. After that, I will talk about the Declaration of Revolution which was read out by a group of American Black Power activists, as this Declaration was critical to the formation of the Programme to Combat Racism and the Special Fund.

A key point about an engagement with Black Power is that it meant the churches had to come to terms with identity in a new way. In order to engage with Black Power on its own terms, this meant the churches had to move past their usual platitudes of ‘we are all God’s children’ to holding and accepting race-based identities alongside that of the global Christian identity. Or in contemporary terms, the churches had to move from being colour-blind to an awareness of how deeply colour or race impacted the lives of black and white people the world over.

However, at the same time, there was the problem of South Africa: how could the churches articulate their support of Black Power without bolstering the case made by the advocates of apartheid? This was no small question, but the final report of the Consultation made peace with the dilemma by stating that racialised identities should work together for the common good of humanity, and that no one particular ‘racial-cultural pattern’ should be held as the standard to which all others were judged.

I now want to highlight how some speakers were keen to underscore the importance of white people becoming allies, although they did not actually use this word. For instance, underscoring the subordinate nature of the ally, Kitagawa said, “White Christians must learn to sit at the feet of competent black leaders before they can stand side by side with them and work hand in hand with them.”

Roger Harless’ speech in particular held no punches. He said, “To be a white anti-racist in America is to stand in the bowels of a beast” and he talked about how white activists had to struggle through those entrails and into the hearts and minds of white people to work at rebuilding, restructuring and rediscovering what it meant to be human as a white person in an anti-racist context. Harless also asserted that white people needed ‘to stand by and to be a target of the revolution’, to be victims for a change.

Naturally, many of the American speakers in particular engaged with Black Power. However, I am going to focus here on the South African revolutionary Oliver Tambo, as he explicitly linked revolutionary anti-colonial movements in southern Africa to Black Power movements in the USA. In doing so, he provided a framework for thinking about these movements as complimentary worldwide revolutionary movements aimed at replacing the old racist, exploitative, capitalist order with one founded on proper understandings of human nature, justice, and history.

Tambo declared that the time for non-violence had long passed since all it had resulted in was the continuation of racist oppression. In fact, at that time there was a marked rise in violence against liberation groups, especially in southern Africa.

Tambo said that to witness this renewed violence against liberation groups was ‘to witness racism, in all its naked reality, rising slowly with a snarl, like a wounded monster, ready to engage the revolutionary hordes surrounding it in a titanic and desperate struggle for survival. I am part of these hordes. You call them terrorists; I call them the standard-bearers of the forces of freedom, the sworn enemies of racial tyranny and colonial exploitation. Volunteers who have freely answered the call to rid mankind of the scourge of racism, colonialism and imperialism.’

The late sixties was a time of action for many groups pushing for freedom. As such, Tambo warned that the Consultation would be considered a failure if it did not translate words into action. If it did not initiate a clean and categorical break with racism by calling upon member churches, individually and collectively, to throw their moral and material resources behind the struggle for the defeat of racism. The churches must support financially as well as philosophically those who sought, by the sacrifice of their lives, to establish a global plural society of peoples free from hunger, disease and ignorance.

So it is with having heard bold and visionary challenges such as that from Tambo that on the afternoon of Friday 23 May 1969, American Black Power activists led by George Black from SNCC (the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee) peacefully and politely gate-crashed the Consultation in order to read out their Declaration of Revolution. This was not actually the first time black activists had interrupted a church meeting in order to read a revolutionary statement. Another SNCC activist, James Forman, had disrupted a communion service at Riverside Church in New York City earlier that month to read his ‘Manifesto to the White Christian Churches’.

As with Forman’s Manifesto, and as with many of the other speeches heard during the Consultation, the Declaration read out in Notting Hill emphasised the role of the churches in slavery and other racist practises, acts, and institutions. It also highlighted the hypocrisy of the churches preaching non-violence and ‘blessed be the poor’, when they themselves amassed billions of dollars and had a legacy of violence against non-white people. George Black said, ‘we are tired of a religion in which the greatest black Christians are martyrs and saints, and the greatest white Christians are the imperialist conquistadores and administrators who put them to death’.

The Declaration contained a list of financial demands: 5 million pounds defence fund for black political prisoners; 5 million pounds each for various liberation; and 20 million pounds for an international publishing house to record the struggles of oppressed people all over the world. The Declaration also demanded that the WCC should publicise all financial assets that it and member churches held, and wanted the WCC to draw up a contract agreeing to the demands by 11.00 o’clock the next morning.

Of course, no contract was drawn up, but the Consultation members did work exceedingly hard to generate a respectful and timely response. To do so, they forfeited the time to complete the discussions of the Consultation, which indicates how seriously they took their reply. In their reply, the WCC noted that the activists’ confrontation had brought them closer to the full reality of the problems they had been grappling with during the Consultation. However, despite agreeing in principle to moral and financial reparations, the WCC gave no commitment to them nor to any action of solidarity as a corporate body. Instead, the WCC passed the responsibility for implementing the demands of the Declaration onto local churches and national councils of churches.

In reply, the Black Power activists stated that endorsing the demands of the Declaration in principle but not in practise would make the church a liar, as principles must necessarily lead to revolutionary action in order to have any meaning. They also reminded the Consultation members that financial reparations were not to be understood as charity and said that their aim was to destroy the relations of power which created, defined and maintained those economic needs and inequalities in the first place. Finally, like Tambo before him, George Black highlighted the hypocrisy of the Christian expectation of non-violent resistance when the oppressed faced violent repression themselves. He said: ‘you say you support our struggle, then you give us Christian platitudes to fight guns, and tanks and planes’. He warned that violence was coming if Black liberation was not achieved.

In the days and months that followed the Consultation, the WCC clearly had another corporate shift, as the final report of the Consultation dated August of that year saw the WCC state that it was now ready for action. With this commitment, we can say that the World Council had finally and fully listened to the demands of the Black speakers and was ready to be a true ally.

The WCC outlined plans for itself and for member churches in order to act to eradicate racism. They were:

  • recommendations to use economic sanctions against organisations and corporations which practised racism and to exert influence over governments to do the same;
  • an affirmation of the principle of reparations to exploited peoples and countries in order to produce a more favourable balance of economic power;
  • a recognition of the Church’s involvement in exploitation;
  • and the establishment of a properly funded unit to deal with the eradication of racism.

Finally, and most significantly they said, and I quote, ‘that all else failing, the Church and churches should support resistance movements, including revolutions, which are aimed at the elimination of the political or economic tyranny which makes racism possible’. Here then was a strong call to Christians and churches worldwide to become true allies in the cause of black liberation.

The support the WCC committed to was therefore economic as well as moral, and the member churches were urged to use their own material wealth to support liberation groups without employing any mechanism of control over how the financial support was used. By removing any restrictions on the use of funds, the WCC was explicitly stating that liberation groups new best themselves how to use the financial support they were receiving.

This is an extremely important point and is key to the concept of allyship: the WCC was subordinating itself to the knowledge and needs of those groups it sought to ally itself to. It was acknowledging that it did not know best, and that its historical position within the exploitative and oppressive global power structures, meant that to truly act in solidarity was to give up control.

This decision led to the most significant outcome of the Notting Hill Consultation: the establishment of the Programme to Combat Racism and the Special Fund. The final report of the Consultation issued in August set out a five-year plan for the PCR which was mainly uncontroversial and educational in nature.

However, there was a further aspect to the PCR: the establishment of the Special Fund to Combat Racism. This funding body was a consequence of their commitment to financially support racially oppressed groups as a method of corporate action. The funds were to be used by organisations in their struggles for economic, social and political justice. Significantly, the WCC included revolutionary organisations within their potential remit of applicants, and, as is to be expected, this decision was to prove highly provocative to many white people, Christians and otherwise, particularly in Britain. In fact, much of the negative press and general backlash that occurred to the PCR was actually just in response to the Special Fund. The main educational aspects of the PCR were overlooked.

Since the grants were to be given to groups and organisations which combatted racism, rather than to welfare organisations which sought to alleviate the effects of racism, this meant that some of the organisations funded by the PCR engaged in violence as a part of their liberation efforts. On the one hand, the organisations receiving the grants had made promises that the money would not be used for military purposes; on the other hand, the grants were also given without any restrictions on use. To justify this, the WCC highlighted that since violence was often used in the maintenance of the status quo, it could not pass judgement on the victims of racism who were driven to violence as the only way left to them to achieve justice.

We can then think of the grants issued by the Special Fund as an extraordinary act of solidarity with a world which had grown tired of waiting for justice and equality to be achieved peacefully. The WCC affirmed that Christian fellowship should now to be extended to those who believed that the only way left to end the violence which repressed them was through the violence of revolution. And as a reminder to the PCR’s mainly western European critics, the WCC also pointed out that many European Christians themselves had recently resisted foreign domination with violence during WW2.

Out of a total fund of just over 1 million USD for the first five years, the grants mainly went to groups in Southern Africa, such as PAIGC, FRELIMO, SWAPO, the ANC, and ZANU and ZAPU, as well as other groups in central and southern America. As for the UK, several black-led organisations such as the Race Today collective, Sivanandan’s Institute of Race Relations, and the Free University for Black Studies were beneficiaries of the Special Fund.

It is not therefore that the sums issued by the Special Fund were particularly large. Rather, the importance of the Special Fund lies in the fact that the grants were given freely and without restrictions. This relinquishing of control over use was to subordinate the perspectives and knowledges of the mainly white hierarchy of the WCC to those mainly black groups they wished to support. It is a great lesson in how to be an ally: a transfer of power, money and control by the rich and powerful to the powerless.

It is almost inconceivable that a white-dominated organisation, Christian or otherwise, would create something like the Special Fund today and I think we need to ask ourselves why that is. It is not that colonial forces have withdrawn: rather, they have adapted and changed and taken on a new shape which defies direct action by its ability to co-opt, coerce, control, and incarcerate. The forces of oppression have themselves changed but those of us who wish to fight them have not. And in remaining the same, we have allowed the vastly unequal capitalist forces of the sixties to live on and grow ever fatter, while many more of us grow slim.

Because of that, I think we have so much to learn from the story I have just related. For instance, what would a Special Fund look like today? Who would it support? How can we be allies to the locally, nationally and globally oppressed? How can we be better listeners? How can we put our own money where our mouths are? What can be done to make the Church more accountable to the radical promises of its own past?

I’m not going to stand here and pretend, by way of summing this up, that I have an answer that approximates a modern version of the progressive, radical, and ethical action that the PCR and the Special Fund was. But I will clearly state that we need one. We need one which crosses the kinds of barriers and divides that the Notting Hill Methodist Church and Social Council did in this neighbourhood in the sixties. We need an answer which truly listens to the voices of the oppressed and allows them to guide us to action, just as the Team Ministry and the World Council did with the voices of the sixties. But we also need an answer that does better than that. We need an answer which can swiftly group and regroup in ways which allow for the diverse kinds of leaderships needed to fight each instance of oppression nowadays. We need an answer which is as malleable, flexible, agile and responsive as the still intact forces of racism and economic injustice that the PCR and the Special Fund were once set up to eradicate.

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