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CofE has 'real issues with governance and data collection' says Lord Boateng

by Donna Birrell

The Chair of the Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice (ACRJ) says the Church of England has real issues around governance and data collection.

Lord Paul Boateng was speaking to Premier after the publication of the Commission’s third biannual report. He said that because the church doesn’t keep accurate data, it is impossible to know how many people within the church are of global majority heritage or who are of black, Asian or minority ethnic heritage : 

“The role of the Commission is to hold the church's feet to the fire on implementation. There has been progress, but that progress has been limited and there's still a way to go.

“The obstacles are the issues in the Church of England around effective governance, not just in the field of racial justice, but in any area. It also has real issues around data collection. They simply don't keep the data, which really isn't good enough for a 21st century institution.”

The role of the ACRJ is to drive significant cultural and structural change on issues of racial justice within the Church of England. It’s charged with monitoring, holding to account and supporting the implementation of the forty-seven recommendations of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce which were laid out in the Taskforce’s report ‘From Lament to Action’ in 2021.

Lord Boateng added :

“The Church of England has been preoccupied with a whole range of issues and in the course of that, I'm afraid all too often, racial justice has been marginalised. And there's a price to be paid for that. Because if we don't create a warm and welcoming, inclusive Church, that is reconciled to its history, some of which is undoubtedly sinful, and slavery is a part of that, but which is now going forward in ways that are inclusive and opposed to racism, anything that stands in the way to that is an obstacle, a stumbling block to our communion with our Lord. So there's structural institutional problems that the Church of England has yet adequately to face and to address.”

Commenting on the third Report, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:  “As we reach the mid-way point of the Commission’s vital work, it’s encouraging to hear of the progress that has been made to ensure the Church is a place where all of God’s children feel welcomed and valued. However, I am under no illusion that there is so much more to be done if we are going to be the Church which reflects the arms of Christ reached out to all on the Cross. I hope the next eighteen months of the Commission’s work will continue to challenge the Church to reflect, repent, and transform - and at pace. I continue to pray for the Commission and the Racial Justice Unit, for those who are giving their time and expertise to this work, and for all those affected by the injustice, racism and oppression that has no place in God’s Church.” 

The Archbishop of York said:  "It is imperative that we continue to listen and learn from the Commission. We need to act expeditiously to tear down the barriers that remain if ever we are to transform our ministry and witness and be a church that honours, values and gives voice to all of God’s children."

The Commission reports to the Archbishops every six month with recommendations to help the Archbishops fulfil their commitments to identify, respond to, and root out systemic racism in the Church.

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