TIME was running out for white Christians to commit themselves to the battle against racism in Britain, Canon Wilfred Wood, an Anglican parish priest in South London and chaplain to the Mayor of Lewisham, warned more than 200 people attending the inaugural meeting of Christians Against Racism and Fascism in London this week.
"As far as we in the black community are concerned it is well past midnight, and I fear that by the time you get round to loving we will have acquired the taste of hating," he said.
The Southwark and Liverpool dioceses were officially represented at the assembly, which was designed to create a support network for Christian groups throughout the country working to improve race relations.
Response to the assembly was overwhelming, with representatives from 35 local Councils of Churches, from eight Anglican dioceses, as well as from a number of Catholic organisations. Some delegates had to be turned away at the door when the meeting hall was filled to capacity.
Fr Michael Hollings, parish priest of Southall, stressed the need for Christians to take action at a local level and not to be frightened to make approaches to ethnic minority groups of different faiths. Speaking of the need for action on a national level to counter the activities of groups such as the National Front, Miss Pauline Webb, former vice-chairwoman of the World Council of Churches, stressed that the Churches should not underestimate their power to make a significant impact on race relations in Britain.
Messages of support were received from Dr Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury; Mr Morgan Williams, Moderator of the Free Church Council; Rabbi Hugo Gryn, of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, and many others.