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Memorial Service for Stephen Lawrence

News St Martin – Talking Points

Monday 22 April 2013

On the afternoon of 22 April 2013 St Martin-in-the-Fields hosted a memorial service marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Stephen Lawrence.

The following is the Revd Dr Sam Wells’ welcome to the gathered congregation:

“It’s an honour for me to welcome you to St Martin-in-the-Fields for this occasion when we build hope together. Mrs Lawrence, the Lawrence family, Prime Minister, Lord Mayor, distinguished guests, friends, and all who care passionately about issues of justice and race and equality and freedom and the common life of our this city and this country: you are welcome here.

“The name Stephen Lawrence is central to the church’s memory. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Stephen is the name of the church’s first martyr, murdered because he spoke the truth, with senior authorities complicit in his lynching. Lawrence is the name of another of the church’s cherished martyrs. He was told to surrender the riches of the church, and brought before the governor the poor, the blind, and the lame, and said, ‘Behold – these are the riches of the church.’ He was executed for his vision, and his defiance.

“We’re here because we share a similar vision, and a similar defiance. Like St Stephen, we know that speaking the truth is dangerous, and standing up in the face of institutional cultures is costly. Like St Lawrence, we know that the problem with the world’s violence is not that it’s too strong but that it’s too weak, and our role is to witness and imitate how the kingdom of God turns the powers of the world upside-down. We’re here to stand beside the Lawrence family, and say, this death is not yours alone, it is a death that matters to all of us. And we are going to stand together in defiance of that death until we see the social changes, from the top down as well as from the bottom up, in which we shall glimpse the hope of resurrection.

“Stephen Lawrence died because of our society’s sins. But God is making something beautiful and transformative out of Stephen’s life. God is building hope. We’re here to say, count me in.”

Opening Prayer
God of awesome wonder,
you look with anger upon our sin
and with grace upon our strivings for redemption;
come among us now, in the power of your Holy Spirit:
give us wisdom to see your truth,
courage to speak and act,
perseverance in the face of opposition and adversity,
patience to await the right moment,
and humility to walk in the shadow of Stephen Lawrence,
and find in it your shadow, our maker and our redeemer. Amen.

Read more

Read the Bishop of London’s sermon, Building Hope in God’s Kingdom [Diocese of London]

Stephen Lawrence 20th anniversary memorial service held [BBC News]

Memorial service held on 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s death [ITV News]

Stephen Lawrence Memorial Draws Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and May (PHOTOS) [Huffington Post UK]

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