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Project aims to promote legacy of Jamaican hero

HOPES: Professor Paul Fiddes, Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, acting High Commissioner Mrs Joan Edwards, Dr Nick Woods and Mrs Rosemarie Davidson Gotobed

CHRISTIANS FROM across the denominational spectrum, the acting Jamaican High Commissioner and Labour MP David Lammy were present at the recent launch reception of the Sam Sharpe Project.

The exciting new initiative aims to inspire black Baptists to be proud of their culture, and encourage Baptist colleges and churches to engage more seriously with black culture.

It is a joint collaboration between the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB), Baptist Mission Society, World Mission, Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture at Regents Park College, the Jamaican Baptist Union, Northern Baptist Learning Community and the London and Heart of England Baptist associations.

The project will promote the legacy of Sam Sharpe, who was born a slave in Jamaica, became a Christian and Baptist deacon and led a slave uprising in 1831 against plantation owners.

Fourteen plantation owners and 186 slaves died before the rebellion was quelled by the authorities.

Sam Sharpe was captured and hanged in Montego Bay, but his legacy as a champion for justice, freedom and liberty lives on.

Prior to being hanged, he reportedly stated: “I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live for another minute in slavery.”

The Sam Sharpe Project will promote Sharpe’s legacy through a website, annual lecture, creation of educational resource material for children and study groups, and a book.

Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, racial justice officer for the BUGB and a key driver of this initiative hopes that the Sam Sharpe Project will inspire black Baptists with leadership potential to come to the fore, as well as encourage the Baptist church to engage more seriously with black and Asian culture and history.

He told Soul Stirrings: “We want the Sam Sharpe Project to broaden understanding peoples of God. Sam Sharpe was a liberation Christian. He looked at scripture through his own reality as a slave, which helped him to interpret the Bible. We are also hoping that this project helps BME [black and minority ethnic] people appreciate the Bible as a tool to liberate us from the difficult situations we find ourselves in.”

The first Sam Sharpe lecture is scheduled to take place in October and Dr Robert Beckford will give the inaugural talk.

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