THE failure of the Church of England to welcome immigrants from
the Caribbean in the 1960s, noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury
this week, had consequences still felt today, the national adviser
for the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC), Dr
Elizabeth Henry, said on Wednesday.
Dr Henry said that the failure had resulted in the loss of not
just one generation of churchgoers, but subsequent generations,
which was the result of "broken links".
Preaching in Nairobi on Sunday, Archbishop Welby said: "The
Anglicans in the UK did not trust the newcomers, and when they came
to church they were not welcomed. The result was that they formed
their own churches, as did people from Africa when they came. And
the African- and Caribbean-led churches today in England are the
strongest in the country.
"In those days in the Sixties, we did not recognise that we
belonged to one another. That we were called by Christ to love one
another. And so the Church of England lost the new life that they
brought and that God was trying to offer us through them."
On Wednesday, Dr Henry said: "At that time, we had mass
migration from Commonwealth countries. People came here following
the call to come and help rebuild the 'Mother Country'. Having
attended Anglican churches in their own countries, they came here
ex-pecting a warm welcome, and to continue with that fellowship.
What they experienced was, at best our Church discouraged them from
attending, and at worst refused them admission. Since that
generation moved away from us, as a Church, so did their future
The 2012 ministry statistics, published on Friday last week by
the Archbishops' Council, show that the proportion of stipendiary
clergy from minority ethnic backgrounds increased from just over
two per cent in 2005 to three per cent in 2012. The publication
cautions that "there are high proportions of clergy who have not
disclosed their ethnicity, and so these figures and any changes
need to be used with caution." Nationallly, there are six clerics
from minority ethnic backgrounds in positions of senior leadership,
three of whom work in the diocese of Chelmsford.
Dr Henry said that this information suggested that those from
minority ethnic backgrounds were "severely under-represented". This
was "an area that the Church has been grappling with for a long
time". She was "very much in favour of positive action".
She said: "We know already that people have a greater sense of
belonging when there are people who look like them both within the
congregation and leading worship. "
Within London, many churches had a congregation in which the
majority of members were from minority-ethnic backgrounds.