EVERY Scottish church building paid for with slavery proceeds should bear a public declaration, a clergyman says.

Reverend Yousouf Gooljary says the 40,000-member Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), to which he belongs is “years behind” on addressing institutional racism.

The Edinburgh-based expert is calling for the church to adopt in-depth training for all decision- makers from the top of the organisation through to the volunteers taking group bookings at local SEC halls.

And he says “appropriate commemoration and displays” should be erected in any SEC buildings paid-for with slavery funds “as a reminder of the history”.

The Scottish Episcopal Church – a part of the global Anglican communion – says it “takes all forms of racism very seriously” and is committed to ending racism and injustice.

Gooljary, the former Rector of St Martin’s in Dalry and an ex-trainer to the Church of England, does not believe the SEC is consciously racist.

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However, he says a lack of diversity within the organisation has prevented leaders from interrogating institutional prejudices and says advisers from ethnic minorities should be brought in.

He also wants history checks on all 350 individual churches for financial links to slavery and the information to be made public.

It’s already known that some sites like St Margaret’s Church in Aberlour were paid for by plantation-owning families. The benefactor there, Margaret Macpherson Grant, inherited her fortune from an uncle who accrued his wealth in Jamaica, but none of this is documented on the church website and Gooljary says more hidden history must be uncovered.

“To me, as someone born of a grandfather shipped as indentured labour from India to Mauritius, this is an affront,” he says, also calling for signs or displays to be put in place in slavery-linked sites.

“But it’s only an affront to me, so only I would instigate a change. That’s why you need black and minority people who are affronted advising the bishops as organisational church change only tends to happen this way.

“All church websites in the SEC should be changed to acknowledge their colonial and slave related past. This will not happen unless there is a policy change at the highest level requiring churches to do so.

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“Racism is a pervasive ideology,” he continues. “We have got to look at the power structures, who reports to whom, how decisions are being made because there’s an inherent ideological inertia to change. It won’t change unless we actively put stuff in place.

“The current state of play is that there is nothing there, no training, no committees. We are behind in terms of the Anglican Church worldwide, the Church of England, and the Church of Scotland.”

Gooljary says he was moved to speak out after the Black Lives Matter movement and more recent storming of the Capitol building in the USA. He moved to Scotland from England following the death of his wife and says there is “a lot of good work” nationally to address prejudice. “The SEC is out of step,” he says.

“I have a 15-year-old, he needs to see that the SEC care about him, that they are concerned with the issues he’s concerned with.

“I worked with the staff in Manchester,” he went on, “we dissected the diocese machinery and recognised the need to place black and ethnic advisers in direct relationship to the bishops who could then oversee the changes below them to the staff and congregations. It’s like we need to reverse-colonise the organisation rather than let the colonial influence in the organisation dominate.”

The SEC says it is “committed to tackling racism in society” and it is taking steps to “set up training on racism awareness”, with the issue to be discussed at a forthcoming staff conference.

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A spokesperson said: “We acknowledge that the slave trade brought wealth to Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries and that our church, like many other institutions in this country, benefited from this wealth, notably in the foundation of a number of our church buildings.

“We further acknowledge that the attitudes which excused trade in human beings in the past continue to foster both overt and institutionalised racism in our own century.

“We seek to make ourselves aware of these attitudes, to repent of them and to apologise to all who continue to bear the consequences of slavery and racism.”