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Canon Anderson Jeremiah to be Area Bishop of Edmonton

20 December 2023


Canon Anderson Jeremiah

Canon Anderson Jeremiah

THE next Area Bishop of Edmonton, in the diocese of London, will be Canon Anderson Jeremiah, Associate Dean (Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and People) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster University, it was announced on Wednesday.

He will be the first presbyter ordained in the Church of South India (CSI), a United Church, to be appointed as a bishop in the Church of England, and will be the fourth bishop in the C of E to have been born in India (News, 10 March).

Dr Jeremiah is associate priest of St Paul’s, Scotforth, in the diocese of Blackburn, where he serves as the Bishop’s Adviser for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Affairs and is an Honorary Canon. He served on the Anti-Racism Taskforce, which preceded the creation of the Racial Justice Unit (News, 14 October 2020), and, as Bishop of Edmonton, will take responsibility for the racial-justice portfolio in the London College of Bishops.

Born in Tamil Nadu in 1975, he was trained for ministry at the United Theological College, Bangalore, and served his title at St Mary’s, Ranipet, in the diocese of Vellore. He also served as CSI Chaplain of the Christian Medical College, Vellore.

He studied at Madras University, before gaining a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. He was appointed Assistant Curate at Old St Paul’s, Edinburgh, and served as Associate Rector of Christ Church, Morningside.

His academic research has focused on the study of contemporary Christianity and the implications of its shift to the global South. He has also studied the caste system, including its presence in the Church. He will the first Dalit to be a bishop in the C of E.

In a recent interview with Church Times, he described the impact that the caste system had had on him personally, including being made to sit on the floor rather than the bench at school, and not being welcome to preside at the eucharist (Features, 1 December). He is the only person with a Dalit Christian background to hold a recognised academic position in the UK.

Dr Jeremiah is the son of a CSI presbyter. Both his parents had fathers who converted from Hinduism, and he spoke also of the part played by Anglican and Reformed missionaries in “lifting vast numbers of Dalit communities out of complete social stagnation and exclusion”, while also noting their preservation of the caste system.

His new position covers the London Boroughs of Camden, Barnet, Enfield, and Haringey. On Wednesday, he began the day at Wren Academy, Finchley, a school co-sponsored by the London Diocesan Board for Schools, before he visited St Barnabas’s, Finchley, St Francis at the Engine Room, near Tottenham Hale station, St Aldhelm’s, Edmonton, and Old St Pancras Church.

He has been a member of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Concerns, the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Force, the Faith and Order Commission, and the Ministry Council. He is also a member of the Oversight Group advising the Church Commissioners’ Board on the new impact-investment fund and grant-funding programme being set up in response to research into historic links to the transatlantic slave trade (News, 28 July).

He has served on the General Synod for a number of years, where his contributions have included reflections on the ecumenism pioneered by the CSI (News, 12 July 2019).

In 2020, he reflected on the killing of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people of colour, warning that racism in the Church remained “endemic”, with its leadership “overwhelmingly monochrome white, both at the very top and in the local leadership” (Comment, 12 June 2020).

He has also written on violence against women (Comment, 15 October 2021), and the “Mixed Ecology” as one of the key strands of the Church’s Vision and Strategy for the 2020s, diagnosing in the debate “a conflation of the economic and ecological models, without proper examination of either”.(Comment, 23 July 2021).

He wrote: “The reality is that, as long as the Church is preoccupied with growth and multiplication as the key indicators of a successful church-growth model, it is obvious that an economic transactional model continues to operate under an ecological paradigm. . . Much of our ecclesiological imagination at present is dominated by fear, anxiety, and scarcity, and that in the process, we are unhelpfully buying into a utilitarian model of success-orientated, rapid growth.”

Dr Jeremiah will formally take up his post in spring 2024. He is married to the Revd Dr Rebecca Aechtner, the Vicar of St Paul’s, Scotforth, and they have two daughters.

On Wednesday, he said: “My personal experiences of exclusion and discrimination have formed my life, research, and ministry, and inspire me to embody the expansive hospitality of God. The Edmonton area is blessed by being a thriving diverse mixture of communities, whom I look forward to serving and shepherding. As an international family, we look forward to finding a home in the London diocesan family.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said of Dr Jeremiah: “The perspectives he has gained through living and working in a breadth of cultures and roles will enrich the senior staff team and the life of the Church in this city. . .

“London’s Diocesan 2030 Vision sets out our ambition for racial justice: how we plan to move forward to truly representing the body of Christ in all its richness — and grow healthily. To reach every Londoner we need to be active in combating racism and racial injustice.”

She said that the Racial Justice Priority Group’s contributions had been invaluable, and the new Area Bishop would “help lead this transformative work as we continue to tackle the evil of racism here in London”.

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