Church unveils race reforms
In the face of mounting concerns about racism, the Church of England has today (22 April) announced it will make sweeping reforms to its internal processes.
Following a lengthy investigation by its own anti racism taskforce, the church has today agreed to implement five essential reforms it believes will make it more inclusive and accountable.
Announcing the changes, a joint statement from Juston Welby and Stephen Cotterill, who serve as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, said: ‘Racism is a sin. Of this, we have no doubt. Anything which diminishes the value and beauty of each individual person, made in the image of God, is sinful. There is no place for it in the world, and we are determined to make sure there is no room for it in the Church.
‘But it is here. We have seen, time and time again, people being bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded from the life of the Church, from the family of God. It breaks our hearts, and we are truly sorry.’
Among the key reforms announced today are:
- The establishment of a Racial Justice Commission. This group will direct their attention to the working practices of the Church of England with regard to racial justice, and will hold the archbishops to account for their leadership.
- The creation of a Racial Justice Directorate within the National Church Institutions of the Church of England, for a five-year period,. This will oversee the implemention of the taskforce’s recommendations.
- The replacement of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Concerns (CMEAC) with a new standing committee of the Archbishops’ Council to oversee the work of the Racial Justice Directorate.
In addition, the church’s ruling body, the General Synod, is to be encouraged to recruit 10 ethnic minority candidates, of which five will be clergy and five lay people, to serve as synod members for the next five years.
And the church will also seek to ensure in the foreseeable future that at least six bishops from ethnic minorities are able to sit as members of the House of Lords.
To see the full announcement and read the taskforce's report, please click here.
Although these recommendations are long overdue, the Church of England is to be applauded for making such far-reaching changes in its quest for equality.
It will take time to implement for, like an oil tanker, the church can be very slow moving. But real change does seem to be in the air at last, and that has to be a good thing for everyone – not least those ministers and lay people from BAME communities who have a heart and passion to serve God in their communities.