Church of England to increase minority ethnic presence in House of Bishops

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The Church of England has agreed plans to increase the number of clergy from ethnic minorities who sit in the House of Bishops.

At present, only four out of 53 bishops are of British Ethnic Minority (UKME) or Global Majority Heritage (GMH) background.

The House Committee has approved a scheme under which at least 10 of those present at future House meetings will be UKME or GMH.

They can be full members or participate as suffragan bishops or priests elected as “observers”.

In addition to the four existing UKME/GMH Bishops, three other Suffragan Bishops have been invited to join House meetings as observers.

The program was one of the recommendations of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Force report, ‘From Complaint to Action’, released in April last year with a call for the Church to do more to address racial inequalities within its own structures.

The Church of England has said it hopes the scheme, which comes into effect in the spring, will be a “catalyst for change” and make Church of England leadership more representative.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “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 the majority world heritage at all levels of its life.

“I am grateful for the work that has been done to make this possible. It is a step on the way. I look forward to the blessings this change allows and the way forward it opens up.”

Canon Dr Sanjee Perera, adviser to the Archbishops on Anglican ethnic minority concerns, said: “We are pleased to report on the House’s progress on this From Lament To Action recommendation and to be able to celebrate having 10 people from UK Minority Ethnic / Global Majority Heritage in the House of Bishops with the arrival of “Participating Observers” in a few months.

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

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