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Windrush group objects to Theresa May as Clergy Support Trust patron

07 January 2022


Theresa May, the former Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Commons in spring last year

Theresa May, the former Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Commons in spring last year

THE appointment of Theresa May as honorary vice-president of the Clergy Support Trust (CST) is “appalling” and should be rescinded with immediate effect, members of the Windrush Group have said in an open letter to the charity’s leadership.

The former Prime Minister was named as one of five honorary vice-presidents last month (News, 10 December). The letter was sent to the charity’s chief executive, the Revd Ben Cahill-Nicholls, its chair, Canon Simon Butler, and trustees. The Windrush Group led and supported the debate on the Empire Windrush legacy at the General Synod in 2020 (News, 14 February 2020). It includes Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, named as the next Bishop of Willesden (News, 26 November), and Dr Elizabeth Henry, a former National Adviser for Minority-Ethnic Anglican Concerns

The letter expresses “utter dismay and outrage” at the appointment, recalling that, as Home Secretary, Mrs May “introduced and systemically implemented the ‘hostile environment’, which targeted and destroyed the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, many of whom were (and are) faithful clergy and lay church members”.

The letter, co-signed by ten members of the clergy and lay leaders, goes on: “She traded politically on the positive image she derived from being a clergyman’s daughter, before comprehensively betraying Christian values by leading a relentless and cruel Home Office in one of its most shameful, inhumane programmes of action. . .

“What influence will Mrs May have on decisions affecting Black and Brown clergypeople, including some of the undersigned, who are already subject to so many additional barriers and challenges within the Church and in society? Applying to the CST for support is already an act of vulnerability, placing oneself under the decision-making of people who are more powerful and more wealthy than oneself.”

It accuses Mrs May of “pandering to racists” and concludes: “It is time for the Church of England to live the risen life of Christ, speak up for justice and reject the patronage of Theresa May.”

A statement from the CST said that the charity had replied to the Group the day after the letter was received, “thanking the group for its helpful comments, and requesting a meeting so that the Trust might learn from the authors’ experience and expertise, and so that — working in partnership with the Windrush Group and others — the Trust might continue to improve its own ministry to Global Majority Heritage clergy. That offer was accepted on 18 December”.

It expressed disappointment that the Group had publicly shared its letter, which “contains a number of inaccuracies about Mrs May’s role and the Trust’s approach, which we do not think helps those we exist to serve”. Honorary Vice-Presidents, it says, were “not involved in developing the day-to-day strategy of the charity or in grant-making”.

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