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'I would love more people to know the good news of Christ'



Passionate about raising up women and young people in the Church, Liz Adekunle is the Archdeacon of Hackney and Chaplain to The Queen. She talks feminism, power, and her dreams for the Church with Sarah Stone.



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What is your vision for the Church in the UK?

I would love more people to know the good news of Christ. I would love younger people to know the good news of Christ. I would love for the Church to be more confident and courageous about sharing that good news with everyone. I would love the Church to be forward thinking about the ways in which we can creatively share the gospel message – through storytelling, art and music. I would love the Church to be more inclusive of all people. God’s message of love transcends our individual fears, or worries, or differences.

And I would love to hear the voices of more young people, who can be really insightful and honest, in ministry.


You’re passionate about feminism. Do you think Christians have anything special to bring to it?

Yes, absolutely. I think the gospel message to love God and love our neighbour is really profound. And doing this would create a revolution. The Christian message has a lot to teach the world.


And does feminism have anything it can bring to the Church?

Feminism can bring more women. And we need more women in all areas in the Church.

We need more of women and from women in order to be more inclusive and more representative of the Body of Christ. Which is all of us. There is a huge group of people that we are denying voices to. Not only from hearing their experiences, but also seeing them flourish.


Do you think the gospel message is inherently patriarchal?

No… [she laughs] But thank you for asking that question. I think God’s message is the opposite of that. I think God’s message is one of love, and generosity, and non-judgement. We leave the judging to God. We love. And there is this wonderful message of hope and eternity for all.


There are those who would say, ‘our head of state is a woman, our Prime Minister is a woman – women are equal, the job of feminism is done.’ What would you say to that?

I think the recent debates about the gender pay gap have revealed that: not only are women paid less, but there are fewer women in senior positions. And so it is really great that there are some, the percentage of women in senior positions is drastically lower than the percentage of men in senior positions. And so I would say, that’s a really good start, but we need more women in order to make those bold claims.


What are your thoughts on the relationship between Christianity and power? Should we avoid it, so we don’t repeat our past mistakes?

Jesus had power. I actually think that power is a good thing, and a necessary thing in order to be heard. But it’s not the end goal. I think Christians can hold power. But I think that absolute power is destructive, and any person who believes they are autonomous is probably not going to use their power in sensible ways.


If Christians do hold power, what can they bring to the world or the Church?

They can bring so much. They’ve got the power to change things. They can bring to the forefront the voices of the voiceless. They can put a spotlight on the marginalised. They can help all of us to see how different people live in the world, and the struggles that some people live with and the prejudices they live with.

The powerful can help us hold a mirror up to ourselves and say, ‘what’s our role in that? What’s our role in the way in which we mute people’s voices, or what’s our role in the way in which we encourage the marginalised?’ And they can put words into action.

 

The Venerable Elizabeth Adekunle is the Archdeacon of Hackney, and in 2017 was appointed Chaplain to The Queen.  She was talking to Sarah Stone at Greenbelt.


 
Baptist Times, 08/03/2018
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