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Lord Sentamu resigns as chair and trustee of Christian Aid

01 June 2023

Christian Aid

Lord Sentamu speaks on behalf of Christian Aid at a gathering of church leaders outside the Ukrainian embassy in Holland Park, west London, in April

Lord Sentamu speaks on behalf of Christian Aid at a gathering of church leaders outside the Ukrainian embassy in Holland Park, west London, in April

THE former Archbishop of York, Lord Sentamu, has resigned as the chair of Christian Aid, the charity confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

Greenbelt Festival has withdrawn its invitation for him speak this summer.

The announcements came two weeks after Lord Sentamu was suspended from active ministry in the diocese of Newcastle, where he is an honorary assistant bishop. He had publicly rejected the finding of a church safeguarding review that he had failed to act on a non-recent disclosure of abuse while he was at Bishopthorpe. The review concerned the abuse perpetrated by a priest, the late Trevor Devamanikkam (News, 12 May).

Lord Sentamu wrote at the time that the review “demonstrated a lack of necessary understanding regarding the operation of dispersed authority in the Church of England” and that “Safeguarding is very important but it does not trump Church Law.”

In his resignation letter to the trustees of Christian Aid on Thursday, Lord Sentamu expressed his concern that recent events could “become a distraction from the vital work of Christian Aid”. He has been chair of the board of trustees since November 2021, shortly after he retired as Archbishop of York.

The vice-chair of Christian Aid, Maggie Swinson, will step into the post on an interim basis with immediate effect while a new chair is recruited, the charity said.

Its chief executive, Patrick Watt, said that Christian Aid was “very grateful” for Lord Sentamu’s leadership over the past 18 months, but that, “given recent events, we understand the reasons for his resignation.”

The organisers of the Greenbelt Festival, which runs at the end of August, had issued their own statement on Tuesday. “While John Sentamu is challenging the findings of the report . . . we feel it would be wrong to give him any sort of platform,” it read. “He was coming to us in his role as chair of our partner Christian Aid, and we have informed them about our decision.

“We have made our decision because we are committed to building and holding as safe a space as we can at Greenbelt. We are conscious of the many people over the years who have suffered abuse and who have then not been listened to by the institutions involved.”

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