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Church of England
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Church of England
World News

Bishop of Dover warns against ‘lip service and box-ticking’ when it comes to racial justice in the Church

by Kelly Valencia

The Church of England’s first female black bishop has criticised the government and the media for using the word “woke” as a weapon.

Rt Rev Rose Hundson-Wilkin made the remarks as part of her speech during a General Synod debate on Racial Justice on Sunday.

She explained that wokeism is a movement rather than a word used to “scare us into thinking that being woke is a sin created by people on the left".

She said: “When it comes to the topic of racial justice, I've heard the word 'woke' being bandied about by many people including Government ministers, certain radio presenters, those in the media. And in every case, they've used it incorrectly.

"The term woke originated in the USA, and it was a black terminology speaking specifically and directly to black people regarding the need to wake up and stay alert, to be consciously aware.

"So it is not just a mere word, it is a movement. Those who are threatened by the authenticity of this movement, want to scare us into thinking that being woke is a sin created by people on the left."

The debate ended with members agreeing to develop local action plans to address racial injustice and agreed that dioceses should collect relevant data on race and ethnicity.

Guy Hewitt, Director of Racial Justice and was also present at the debate, told Premier he was encouraged to see reaching out for guidance on initiating the data collection process.

“I would say that there is a responsiveness already for us to gather data and ensure that we can measure the journey that we are taking on racial justice on social inclusion. What is important for us to understand is that we need to be able to look across the church and ask the question where Are all global majority heritage members? Where are women? Where are young people? Where are persons with disability. And we can't know that until we capture the data.

“The anecdotal evidence speaks to the reality that there has been a lot of marginalization, a lot of discrimination. But we won't be able to track progress until we can collect that data and measure where we have where the direction of travel and how far we have gotten.”

On Monday, General Synod members also heard an update on the progress made to address the denomination's links to transatlantic slavery.

Last year, the church agreed to set up a £100 million compensation fund to invest in reparations, but it is still unknown when or how it will work.

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