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Archbishops’ adviser for minority-ethnic Anglican concerns resigns

11 August 2022

Church of England

THE Archbishops’ Adviser for Minority-Ethnic Anglican Concerns, Dr Sanjee Perera, has resigned in advance of the appointment of a Director of Racial Justice for the Church of England.

Announcing her decision on Twitter, Dr Perera writes that she resigned several weeks ago, but agreed to keep the news under wraps until the C of E was in a position to announce who had taken up the new post. That announcement is thought to be imminent.

Dr Perera posted a screenshot of a letter, dated 23 July, to the Archbishops’ Council’s secretary-general, William Nye, in which she tells him of her decision to resign. She describes her job as having been “an extraordinary joy to inhabit”, which has “fulfilled me like no other role in my career thus far”.

She goes on to explain, however, that, as Mr Nye is “well aware”, “it has not always been an easy task amidst significant changes within the NCIs [national church institutions], and the introduction of the Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission, which has been increasingly directive of my work and strategy and demanding of my time in a secretarial capacity.”

Dr Perera states that she wants the new Director to be able to take up their post without “tripping over an existing staff member” with whom they would share “overlapping functions”.

On the general direction of the C of E’s efforts to tackle racism and systemic injustices, Dr Perera warns: “It is easy for the Church at this juncture to merely create virtue-signalling sound and fury, rather than truly commit to structural and contextual healing and reformation.”

She continues: “It is dangerous for the Church to give in to this performative top-down noise that, at best, changes little in the racism found in dioceses, parishes, and at grassroot communities, and at worse damages and polarises our already inflamed Church family and creates anxiety, resentment and fear.”

In January, Dr Perera delivered a report that concluded that there were still “significant obstacles” to meeting some of the Anti-Racism Taskforce’s recommendations (News, 22 January). In April 2021, the Taskforce had made 47 recommendations, one of which was to establish a new Racial Justice Directorate with three full-time staff members (News, 22 April 2021).

Dr Perera is an honorary lay canon of Liverpool Cathedral and an Associate Fellow with the Open University School of Law, and holds research fellowships at several institutions.

Responding to Dr Perera’s announcement, a C of E spokesperson thanked her “for her tireless work in support of racial justice in the Church, particularly during the last two years in which she has been the Archbishops’ adviser, but also for her commitment to this agenda over many years”.

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