Clergy in the Church of England from a UK minority ethnic background can now join others in a group that aims to encourage each other's vocation and support them.
The group has been set up by former junior doctor Angela Sheard, who is training at a theological institution in Birmingham and former biomedical scientist Rev Tariro Matsveru, who was ordained in June and is now a curate in King’s Heath in Birmingham.
UK Minority Ethnic - or Global Majority - ordinands and curates will meet every three months to provide an opportunity to discuss any challenges and support the growing number of non-white or white ethnic minority clergy.
Rev Tariro, who was born in Zimbabwe and trained at Cranmer Hall in Durham, said: "We want to encourage and support the vocations of ordinands and curates of UKME/Global Majority Heritage in the Church of England within dioceses and theological colleges.
"We want to also bring to the attention of the Church the challenges being faced by UKME/GMH ordinands and curates and join the Church of England’s efforts in challenging these issues."
The group has been set up as the proportion of people from UKME/GMH backgrounds starting training for ordained ministry in the Church of England rose last year to 10.9 per cent.
A total of 8.9 per cent of stipendiary clergy ordained last year were from a UKME/GMH background. This compares to 4.1 per cent of the current pool of stipendiary clergy.
"More people are going into training for ordained ministry which is fantastic but they are often quite scattered around the country," Dr Sheard said.
"The network has a vision of UKME ordinands and curates flourishing and being celebrated within the Church as part of the body of Christ."
The Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, welcomed the launch of the group, saying: "We are saying by our very presence and offering ourselves for ministry that we belong in the church, we are here to serve, because that is our calling," she said.
"I am encouraged by the number of us who are knocking on the door but sometimes we have to push the door. We are not guests to be welcomed, we belong, it is our church and we are here to stay."
Dr Sanjee Perera, Archbishops’ Adviser for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns. said: "UKME ordinands and curates have long needed this space of fellowship, support and representation and I am thrilled that Angela and Tariro have responded with such extraordinary insight, to my invitation.
"I hope they will be a critical friend and a conversation partner to the Church of England, as we forge a space where everyone whatever their heritage, culture or ethnicity can flourish."