Reparation and Reconciliation

Church and Diaconia in Light of the Ecumenical Programme to Combat Racism

In: Exchange
Erica Meijers Assistant Professor of Diaconal Studies, Protestant Theological University, Groningen and Amsterdam The Netherlands

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After several decades of relative silence in the Netherlands on the topic of church and racism, the Black Lives Matter Movement and the public debate on reparations for colonial enslavement have brought the issue back on the agenda of church and theology. Fuelled by the Programme to Combat Racism (PCR), previous ecumenical discussions on this topic in the 1970s provide a good starting point for reflection today.

This paper first provides some basic background on the PCR and then describes three theological positions in relation to reconciliation that shaped the discussions around racism. Based on these historical insights, the article summarizes the experiences and insights of the PCR in three major points, and discusses their relevance for today’s conversation on church, diaconia, and racism. The paper argues that commitment, the transfer of power, and the value of discomfort provide important theological and practical insights for today’s debate.

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