The Council for World Mission has developed a project to explore the legacies after the transatlantic slave trade. There has been a call for some years now from the black communities of the Caribbean, United Kingdom and the United States for the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade to be addressed. CWM’s own origins as the London Missionary Society (LMS) lie in this vital period of colonisation and slavery as we were founded before slavery was abolished. CWM came into being in the 1970’s as a way to decolonise the mission relationships of the member churches, and its vision of partnership emerged as a way to dismantle some of the consequences of colonialism.

This project is a further part of our being posy-colonial organisation. We are looking to take historical contemporary perspectives, examining the practise of slavery in those setting and how this has continued to shape the realities of the people of that place. In this way the hearings will enable people to voice hurt and anger, and for CWM to discover afresh what post colonial mission movements need to address.

The project includes four hearings in the United Kingdom, Ghana, Jamaica and the United States. The first hearing will take place in late 2017, and the remaining three in 2018.

First Hearing: 12th – 16th November, London, UK

The first hearing was held in London as it began the discussion and links between CWM’s origins as the London Missionary Society. It provided an apt opening to hearing about the role that the LMS played in colonisation and slavery, as well as religion.

Over the three day period, participants joined in listening to the stories of the place and people, acts of lament and repentance, and exploring directions for the future hearings, as well as the work in mission and different constituencies.

There were also two separate exposure visits whereby participants visited the London Docklands Museum, and High Cross United Reformed Church in Tottenham, London. The visit to the London Docklands Museum allowed participants to see the London, Sugar and Slavery exhibition and reflect on how instrumental London was in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It gave participants insight and stirred their thought processes, especially with regards to how the Transatlantic slave trade is remembered, adding to later discussions.

The visit to High Cross United Reformed Church was also an opportunity for participants to hear from the black community in London. The church members provided participants with a meal that reflected their Caribbean roots, and had speakers from different ages reflecting their experience of living with the legacy of slavery, and what it meant to them.

At the end of the three day hearing, participants joined together to create a working document that will be developed throughout the following hearings. It was created with the intention of highlighting issues, developing goals, and establishing who, how and where we can all work together.