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C of E’s new anti-racism adviser ‘pushing at an open door’

31 August 2020

The Revd Dr Chigor Chike

The Revd Dr Chigor Chike

THE Church of England’s new national adviser for minority-ethnic concerns, the Revd Dr Chigor Chike, believes that people are ready to dismantle systemic racism.

Dr Chike is Vicar of Emmanuel Church, Forest Gate, in east London. He chairs the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN), and this week starts a six-month secondment as national adviser to the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC). He succeeds Dr Elizabeth Henry, who retired from the post in May after seven years.

On her retirement, Dr Henry remarked: “I believe there is a willingness in principle, but not in practice, to tackle racism, increase representation, and genuinely work to achieve a greater sense of belonging for UK minority-ethnic people in Church and society; and thus, sadly, progress is painfully slow” (Features, 3 July).

The Black Lives Matter protests since then have given a new urgency to the work. The House of Bishops voted recently to establish a Racism Action Commission to start work in 2021, with the aim of bringing about “significant cultural and structural” change within the Church of England (News, 3 July). Part of Dr Chike’s work will be to supervise the setting-up of the commission.

The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, director of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Department, said that the Church’s work on this issue was considered too vital to wait for a permanent replacement for Dr Henry. “We have a thorough process in place for identifying a permanent adviser on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) issues, but the work is too important to wait for that process to take its course,” he said last week.

“Chigor will play a pivotal role at a crucial time, as the Church of England builds on a new commitment to addressing racism and seeking the full inclusion of all people within its life and ministry.”

Dr Chike has been based in Forest Gate since 2010. He also chairs the east London charity Rights and Equalities in Newham, which advocates for people from marginalised backgrounds.

He spoke optimistically last week about his new appointment: “I have worked in the field of anti-racism for the past 25 years, and do not know a time when people have been more aware of systemic racism, or more determined to dismantle it.

“I would be looking to play a part to the Church of England’s response to this moment.”

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