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Church of England
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Church of England
World News

Indian priest from 'untouchable' community named London's newest CofE bishop

by Ros Mayfield

The new Bishop of Edmonton has been announced by the Bishop of London, as an Indian academic who is a descendant from the lowest caste in Hinduism.

Dr Anderson Jeremiah hails originally from south India, and his family was converted by missionaries to the Dalit community.

Jeremiah is currently Associate Dean at Lancaster University, and a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion there.  He was ordained into the Anglican Communion while living in India.  He also serves as Associate Priest at St Paul’s Scotforth where his wife Rebecca is the vicar.

He serves the Diocese of Blackburn as advisor to the Bishop on issues of black, Asian and minority ethnic affairs, and has served on the church’s anti-racism taskforce.

Growing up in south India as a Dalit Christian, he describes having experienced "overt and covert racism, at every sphere of social and religious life" which gave him a passion for working towards justice and peace as "central to Christian Discipleship". 

Dalits are locked in to the lowest class of Hindu society by birth.  They are subject to extreme racism, excluded from the official caste system, and are eligible only for sanitation jobs such as scavenging rubbish, cleaning drains, collecting waste and sweeping roads.

Even today, Dalit children are forbidden from touching mid-day meals at school.  A recent study found that they are subject to discrimination in 88 per cent of India's state schools and that half drop-out before finishing primary school.

By contrast, Christian missionaries since the 19th century have interacted with Dalits, shared meals with them and transformed forbidden and “polluted” ghettos into communal spaces.  There were widespread conversions in the 1850s, with whole communities turning to the Christian faith.

Dr Jeremiah will formally take up his post in Spring 2024 and will join the College of Bishops in the Diocese of London, taking responsibility for the racial justice portfolio.

His academic research centres on the study of contemporary Christianity and the shift of Christianity to the global south - looking at its socio-cultural implications.  His interests include post-colonial approaches to theology, and inter-faith understanding.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, welcomed his appointment, saying the announcement was, "a blessing for the Church in North London, which I am sure will thrive under Anderson’s leadership and ministry.”

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