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House of Bishops announces move to increase ethnic diversity at meetings

20 January 2022


Church House, Westminster

Church House, Westminster

AT LEAST ten clergy of UK minority-ethnic / global-majority heritage (UKME / GMH) will be present at meetings of the House of Bishops within months, after its Standing Committee agreed a plan to address its lack of ethnic diversity.

Of the 53 places in the House of Bishops, only four are currently occupied by UKME/GMH bishops. Under plans agreed by the Standing Committee of the House on Thursday it will “ensure that at least 10 can be present, either as members as of right; as suffragan bishops appointed as participant observers, or as priests elected as participant observers”, a statement from Church House said.

“In addition to the four existing UKME/GMH members of the House, the plan will involve three further suffragans (two of whom were recently nominated as bishops) being invited to join the House as participant observers. There would also be three priests elected by serving UKME/GMH clergy.”

The report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce, From Lament to Action, published last year (News, 23 April 2021), recommended that UKME/GMH clergy be appointed to the House of Bishops as “participant observers . . . following equivalent steps taken previously when women were introduced to the House ahead of legislation enabling women to be members of the episcopate”.

The Archbishop of York said on Thursday: “This may seem like a small step to some, but it ensures that a diversity of voices and experiences enriches the discussions of the House of Bishops as we seek to be a church that truly embraces people of global majority heritage at every level of its life.

“I am grateful for the work that has gone into making this possible. This is a step on the journey. I look forward to the blessings this change enables and the way forward it opens up.”

The Archbishops’ Adviser on Minority-Ethnic Anglican Concerns, Dr Sanjee Perera, said: “We are pleased to report progress from the House on this From Lament To Action recommendation and be able to celebrate having ten people of UK minority-ethnic/global-majority heritage in the House of Bishops with the arrival of the ‘Participant observers’ in a few months.

“We hope this will create a catalyst for change that will enrich the Church according to the calling of the gospel.”

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