THE issue of racial justice is back on the agenda. Whether it be the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, the BBC Panorama programme on racism in the Church of England or the United Nations’ critical response to the recently published Government report on race, discussions on the issues of racial justice both at home and abroad are at the fore.

There will be some who simply do not want to hear this conversation, who view it as either divisive or an example of “wokery” – the term now employed by critics of those seeking change, action or progress on issues that have classed as “identity politics”.

Why can’t we simply get along is often the cry. It’s an understandable plea and one that is shared by many, if not all, of those whose lived experience of repeated slights, humiliations or outright discrimination has reinforced a desire to be enabled to flourish equally and to be treated with a common respect.

For the past six months I have been co-chair of the Church of England’s Anti-Racism Taskforce, established by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Our report will be published on Thursday – Stephen Lawrence Day. It is a date specifically chosen in recognition of the continuing impact of institutional racism both within society and the church, combined with the hope that as a church and society we have arrived at a moment of change.

As a taskforce of the church, it is not surprising that our work has been rooted in theology – in an understanding of who God is and the character of a just and loving God. As such when we come to the issue of racism we begin with the understanding that racism is a sin and that in seeking to address this sin we do so seeking to follow a biblical imperative which we share with all followers of Christ.

As a taskforce, we have not seen our work as a battle in an ongoing culture war but rather a call to arms against the evil and pernicious sin of racism. Our mandate has flowed not from identity politics but from our shared and common identity in Christ. By viewing this as our primary identity we find the reason and motivation to combat racism.

Where racism is found, it must be challenged. Whether masked in our behaviours, whispered in our pews, institutionalised in our systems or paraded on our streets, the church as the body of Christ is called to oppose those actions which cause others to be treated as less than fully human and to dismantle those practices which prevent the full flourishing of all people.

The need, for both church and society, is for a culture change so that everyone feels they have an equal state in the mutual flourishing of others for the benefit of the common good.

For far too long these sentiments may have been shared but they have not been acted upon.

This is the culture change that is required if the church is to live up to its mandate of being a body where all the gifts of all its people flourish to the full, for the benefit of the church as a whole, the nation of England and the greater glory of God.

l Arun Arora is the vicar of St Nicholas' Church in Durham