May 21, 2008

British Baptists to apologise for slave trade

by David Masters

A delegation of British Baptists will be travelling to Jamaica tomorrow to offer an in-person apology for the slave trade.

The members of the delegation will be worshipping in the Jamaican Baptist churches, and visiting sites historic to the slave trade.

The official apology will be made during morning worship on Sunday, at which point a plaque commemorating the occasion will be handed over.

Last year was the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, an act passed by the British government in 1807.

Following the bicentenary celebrations, a number of letters were sent to the Baptist Times, the newspaper of the Baptist church, expressing disappointment that the British branch of the church had not offered a formal apology for the slave trade.

The decision was then made to offer an official apology.

Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, called this decision an historic moment in Baptist history.

Karl Johnson, General Secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, said that the apology will be accepted with gratitude, openness, and humility.

The General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, Neville Callam, who is also from Jamaica, commented that forgiveness made true healing possible and liberation benefits everyone involved.

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