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More ethnic minority clergy to attend meetings of senior Bishops in 'catalyst for change' for C of E

by Donna Birrell

New plans have been agreed for more clergy from minority ethnic backgrounds to attend meetings of senior Bishops in the Church of England.  

The House of Bishops, which is made up of the most senior clerics in the church has agreed that from the Spring there should be at least ten members from UK Minority Ethnic or Global Majority Heritage backgrounds represented. 

At present, only 4 out of 53 positions in the House of Bishops are filled by minority ethnic clergy. It's hoped the new rules will be a catalyst for change towards making the C of E more representative.   

The scheme has been approved by a Committee of the House and the House says it will ensure that at least 10 minority ethnic representatives can be present, either as members as of right, as suffragan bishops appointed as participant observers, or as priests elected as participant observers.

It’s believed that in addition to the 4 existing UKME/GMH members, the extra six places will be made up of 3 suffragan Bishops and 3 priests elected by serving UKME/GMH clergy.

The House of Bishops – which is both part of the General Synod and a body in its own right – is made up of all the diocesan bishops and some elected suffragans.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, said:

“This may seem like a small step to some, but it ensures that a diversity of voices and experiences enriches the discussions of the House of Bishops as we seek to be a church that truly embraces people of global majority heritage at every level of its life.

“I am grateful for the work that has gone into making this possible. This is a step on the journey. I look forward to the blessings this change enables and the way forward it opens up.”

Canon Dr Sanjee Perera, the Archbishops' Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, said:

“We are pleased to report progress from the House on this From Lament To Action recommendation and be able to celebrate having 10 people of UK Minority Ethnic/Global Majority Heritage in the House of Bishops with the arrival of the ‘Participant observers’ in a few months.

“We hope this will create a catalyst for change that will enrich the Church according to the calling of the gospel."

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