Commitment for Change
One of our members, Chaplain. Rev. David Reid, (the Seamen's Church Institute of Philadelphia & New Jersey, Pennsylvania) gave the homily at Maritme Prayer, on 23rd June. Here's the text of what he said; if you'd like to listen to the whole service, the link is at the end of this post.
Last week the BBC carried a news story detailing the role of Lloyds of London during the 19th century carriage of slaves by sea on merchant ships. These revelations come following the global outcry of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Lloyds of London has been the global center for marine insurance since 1686, providing a home for underwriting syndicates to sell insurance policies to shipowners. The BBC story reminded me of my first visit to the building designed by the talented architect Richard Rodgers, shortly after it opened in 1986. The BBC story revealed that many of the former Governors and Directors of Lloyds were direct. beneficiaries of the slave trade. While the efforts of William Wilberforce to push the Slavery Abolition Act through the British Parliament in 1833 are well known. Four years after the Act of Abolition; the Slave Compensation Act was passed and the sum of 20 million pounds was set aside to pay for the loss of slaves considered as business assets. [equivalent to 1.8 billion US dollars today.] University College in London maintains an online database that details all those that benefited from the abolition of the slave trade. The database provides the name of the plantations, the number of slaves held, and the amount of compensation paid by the British government. Ironically the compensation paid now provides transparency with detailed accounts of all businesses and individuals who were beneficiaries of slavery. As I browsed the database, I came across a familiar name to all of us who work in chaplaincy to seafarers. We all know the name of Rev. John Ashley and the story of his pioneering work to create a seafarer mission in the port of Bristol. Rev. John Ashley was the eldest son of John Ashley of Vere and Bath. The father of Rev. John was a slave-owner in Jamaica. According to Ashley’s will dated in 1791, he left an annuity to each of his children including his eldest son who became the Anglican minister Rev. John Ashley. The records show that the Ashley family were recipients of money paid from the Slave Compensation Act. So, here we find that the roots of slavery descend downwards from the very tree that we now occupy. Our global ministry to seafarers has followed in the footsteps of Rev. John Ashley. However, the demographic of the seafarer in the 21st century is very different from the one that existed two hundred years ago. Today we meet and greet seafarers who come from a predominantly Asian-centric origin, in the UK they are referred to as the BAME [Black-Asian-Minority-Ethnic] community. [This describes the majority of seafarers] We know that their lives matter – this is centric to our work. What happened to George Floyd and others serve to remind us ALL that discrimination and racism remain present within our world. The scripture from Mathew reminds us that our spiritual commitment must be absolute to demonstrate the Christ energy within us. The wounds of slavery need to be fully healed and we must acknowledge that these wounds extend deep into maritime history. Let us all now commit to use our time and energy to raise our collective spiritual awareness to serve ALL seafarers proactively and without prejudice. Many Blessings. Chaplain. Rev. David Reid MA AFNI
Here is the link, should you wish to listen to the service.