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Church of England launches national network of Chinese heritage clergy after WhatsApp group success

by Will Maule
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A newly formed collective of Chinese heritage clergy in the Church of England have met in person for the first time. 

The group, called "The Teahouse" was originally set up as a WhatsApp group offering support and community to clergy during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was set up by Rev Mark Nam, a curate at St Anne’s church in Oldland and United Church in Longwell Green, Bristol, who is also the Diocese of Bristol’s minority ethnic vocations champion.

He said the launch was a "significant" and "historic" moment for the Church. 

The group met at a Eucharist service in Southwark Cathedral and later in Chinatown in London, as well as attending Evensong at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

"The aim of The Teahouse is to support and empower clergy with Chinese-heritage in the Church of England by promoting their presence in all structures of the Church, creating connections and providing information and resources,” Rev Nam explained. 
 
“I hope that in the years to come, the Teahouse will have a real impact on the life of the church and the wider community in helping to reflect the diversity in our country.”

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see the formal launch of the Teahouse group. What a wonderful development in our journey towards becoming a church that truly reflects and values the great diversity of life in modern Britain. Seeing groups like this come forward fills me with hope.”

The Dean of Manchester, Rogers Govender, who is chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC), a committee of the Archbishops’ Council, added:
 
“We are deeply encouraged by the launch of the Teahouse network. We thank God for the hope that these clergy represent for the Church of England, in our efforts to truly welcome and value the great gifts we are brought by those from minority ethnic heritage, both in our clergy and congregations and in our wider community.
 
“Finding ways to support networks and communities of Chinese-heritage and East Asian clergy and laity has been identified as one of our key CMEAC objectives. We hope to work closely with Teahouse among other partner networks, to fulfil this commitment.”

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