In November 2007 the Baptist Union Council made a formal Apology for “…our share in and benefit from our nation’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade”. This was made in person by representatives of BUGB the following year in Jamaica. Subsequently a strategic plan was formulated and has begun to be implemented. Entitled The Journey, its purpose is to convert the Apology into concrete action by providing resources for associations, colleges, churches and Baptist House and to assist the Union’s journey towards being a multicultural family.
During the same period the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture was developing research around the figure of the black Baptist Deacon Sam Sharpe, and in April 2010 hosted the first International Conference on Sharpe in partnership with BUGB, BMS World Mission and the Jamaica Baptist Union. Following this initial Sam Sharpe Conference, many of the delegates expressed a desire for a Sam Sharpe Project to be established. A number of partners came together, and the project was born.
It is hoped that the Sam Sharpe Project will be an important contribution to the field of Black Baptist Studies and will also support The Journey, by assisting the Racial Justice Working Group of BUGB in its implementation of the recommendations accepted by BU Council. It anticipates work over an initial two year phase, with the hope that sufficient momentum and resources can be gained to sustain the project beyond this initial period.
- To encourage the growth of mission-centred Churches and Associations able to engage with our contemporary multicultural society.
- To support the Baptist Union’s Racial Justice Working Group as it creates fresh resources based on the six Journey recommendations.
- To develop the potential of black and ethnic minority leaders and prepare some for Baptist ministry and scholarship in Baptist colleges.
- To encourage Baptist Colleges, Associations and Churches more seriously to engage with black and Asian history, culture and theology.
- To research the historical and theological legacy of Sam Sharpe and to reflect on the impact of this and other related stories for Baptist Christians in the 21st century.
In the furtherance of the aims of the project, a number of programmes are either underway or being planned. They include:
- This website
- Story study groups
- Multicultural resources for children
- A book with commissioned contributions
- An annual lecture series
- Historical and theological research
The Project is being coordinated by the Revd Wale Hudson Roberts, Racial Justice Adviser, Baptist Union of Great Britain.
The Project is being administered by Dr Nicholas Wood, Director of the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regent’s Park College Oxford.