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Bishops pledge swift action to combat racism in the Church of England

03 July 2020


Protesters calling for Justice for the Windrush generation gather in Piccadility Square, London, earlier this month. Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue across the UK

Protesters calling for Justice for the Windrush generation gather in Piccadility Square, London, earlier this month. Black Lives Matter demonstrations...

A NEW commission, due to be launched next year, will have a “zero-tolerance” approach to racism, the House of Bishops has announced.

The House voted last week to back the creation of the Archbishops’ Racism Action Commission, which will run independently for two years, before its work is incorporated into one of the Church’s institutions. Instead of producing a report, the Commission will aim at finding and dismantling institutional barriers to racial justice, equality, and inclusion.

The creation of a task force was also announced last week. This will undertake preparatory work for six months before the commission’s launch. Church House, Westminster, has confirmed that more details about both the task force and the commission will be released in the coming weeks.

A statement from Church House said: “For the Church to be a credible voice in calling for change across the world, we must now ensure that apologies and lament are accompanied by swift actions leading to real change.” It also noted that efforts at creating more racial justice, equality, and inclusion in the C of E had been “insufficient”.

Bishops also voted last week to reiterate an apology issued in 2006 for the Church of England’s connections with the historic slave trade. Bishops have recently declared their support for Black Lives Matter, saying that it is time to “repent” of white privilege (News, 12 June). Last month, there was also a church apology to a black ordination candidate, Augustine Tanner-Ihm, who had been rejected for a curacy owing to the demographic of the parish (News, 26 June).

The authorities in many churches and cathedrals are reviewing monuments and memorials related to historic figures involved in slavery (News, 19 June).

The General Synod apologised in February for racism experienced by black and minority-ethnic people by the Church of England after the arrival of the Windrush generation in Britain, from 1948. At the same meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury described the Church as “deeply institutionally racist” (News, 11 February).


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