The Church is very good at saying all the right things about racial equality. But the reality is that the institution has utterly failed to back up these good intentions with demonstrable efforts to reform. It is a long way from being a place of black flourishing.
Through conversation with clergy, lay people and campaigners in the Church of England, A.D.A France-Williams issues a stark warning to the church, demonstrating how black and brown ministers are left to drown in a sea of complacency and collusion.
While sticking plaster remedies abound, A.D.A France-Williams argues that what is needed is a wholesale change in structure and mindset.
Unflinching in its critique of the church, Ghost Ship explores the harrowing stories of institutional racism experienced then and now, within the Church of England.
Far from being an issue which can be solved by simply recruiting more black and brown clergy, says France-Williams, structural racism requires a wholesale dismantling and reassembling of the ship - before it is too late.
Hear A.D.A France-Williams read from his book in this audio sample.
Who's Who and What's What xiii
Prologue: Tears and Troubadours: A Parable by Ade the Griot xxi
1. Ghost Ship 26
2. Remember, Remember 37
3. No Pain Allowed 49
4. Slave Ship 66
Intermission: A Conversation with Rose Hudson-Wilkin 81
5. Get Out of My House! 92
6. Reimagining Reimagining Britain 117
7. You Cannot Judge a Book by its Cover 145
8. Buried Alive 160
9. Token Gesture 172
10. Conclusions? 190
Epilogue: ‘God Save the Queen!’, an alternative future history 204
"Although the subtitle of France-Williams' new book is 'Institutional Racism and the Church of England,' make no mistake:—here is a powerful and provocative word to people on both sides of the ocean, wherever racial injustice is found. It’s impossible to turn the pages of Ghost Ship and not find yourself challenged to turn the nightmare around us into God’s dream of a better world." -- The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
"France-Williams employs a formidable range of approaches – among them testimony, academic categories, careful research, interviews, anecdote, poetry, humour, parody, exegesis and close reading – to mount a compelling and urgent argument for the church’s institutional and personal failure to receive the gift the Holy Spirit in the lives, bodies and callings of its BAME witnesses. Most of all he models prophetic ministry: pleading, portraying, persuading and ultimately inspiring the church that has caused so much hurt and grief but that despite all he still bravely loves. This is a testament of truth; and an epistle of power." --Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin in the Fields
"Ghost Ship is poetically, formally and spiritually courageous. The profound honesty with which it is written is matched only by the honesty it asks for. The power of that honesty offers wondrous scope for the liberation and revitalisation of the Anglican church." -- Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
"Ghost Ship has been many years in the making and I have been honoured to have journeyed with the author as his prophetic vision has developed and matured, culminating in this book. This text is an excellent combination of historical analysis, personal reflection, poetry, biblical hermeneutics and first hand narratives, all combined to produce a highly readable book. Its key strength is that it is written by an insider, one whose love for the Church of England is such, that he is willing to tell her the truth!" -- Anthony Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, University of Oxford
"In this powerful book, France-Williams tells the stories of discrimination many of us review in our heads on the way home after work and put aside to be cheerful and present with people we love, and then we go back the next morning. For those of us who have committed our lives to the service of God through the Anglican Church, the institutional weight of slavery and colonialism and their legacy of racism bear down daily, whether we have decided to cope like a raging and blinded Samson in the temple of Dagon or a smiling token carefully packaged. France-Williams digs it all up and puts it on the page. Ouch! But, thankfully, he reframes the isolating burden of discrimination as institutional racism, the presenting sin of the church. With that sin has come the great potential for repentance, deep institutional transformation, and the salvation of a radical change of course. Let us take it up in our time." -- Winnie Varghese, Trinity Church Wall Street, New York
"In Ghost Ship, France-Williams takes on white supremacy in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion with precision, imagination, and confidence. Every page is evidence of his ability to make complex matters accessible to neophytes and experts alike. It is within reason to expect this tome to become a standard in the training of church leaders, lay and ordained. His exploration of Pan-African Anglicanism is a gift to students of church history and shows that he stands on the shoulders of faithful giants. I commend this book to a world desperately in need of France-Williams' pioneering imagination and insight." -- The Rev. Canon Broderick Greer, Writer and Episcopal Priest
"This is a powerful book. Its power comes not in loud or angry protest, but in prophetic storytelling that speaks truth to power, reflecting back on the Church its failings when it comes to racial justice. In an understated way, it combines personal testimony with imagery, real-life accounts and a range of voices who put together a mosaic of centuries-long racial injustice in the Church. The at times devastating critique of the status quo within the Church is not dampened by the beautiful writing, but calls the reader to attention. It is a lament of the state of the Church and a rallying call towards a better way." -- Chine McDonald, writer and broadcaster
"Intelligence and passion fuel France-Williams’ dissection of the leadership “club” - people like me - at the heart of the Church of England’s failure to own and address its racism. The reader need not accept all his arguments uncritically, to recognise this authentic black voice needs to be heard." -- The Right Reverend Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester