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Last updated 23rd November 2022

From Lament to Action - information page

Overview of the 'From Lament to Action' report

Racism exists in the Church of England. We need every person in every church and every school to root it out.

Rev Sarah Gill, Bishop's Adviser on UKME issues says: "The Diocese of Blackburn is committed to promote and exercise Racial Justice in its call to serve humanity in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. 

"Our commitment to Racial Justice is rooted in Jesus Christ who stood with the poor, the vulnerable, oppressed and the marginal in social and religious structures and society at large."

The Anti-Racism Taskforce 'From Lament to Action' report, published in the same week as a disturbing edition of BBC Panorama, made 47 recommendations to achieve lasting change, and it is required reading for us all.

DOWNLOAD THE 'FROM LAMENT TO ACTION' REPORT HERE

Amid rising concern about insufficient progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion within the Church of England, the House of Bishops also agreed in 2020 to the creation of an Archbishops' Taskforce, which would lead to a commission. Responding locally, our Diocese has also set up a Racial Justice Task and Finish Group. 

  • Click here to go straight to further information about the Archbishop's Racial Justice Commission and click here for more on our Racial Justice Task and Finish Group. 

The Archbishops' Taskforce researched what had already been achieved. It identified 25 previous reports and 161 formal recommendations relating to racial justice in the past 36 years, but struggled to discern the flourishing of UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) Anglicans as a result.

As is clear from the title of the report (From Lament to Action) urgent action is required.

"A failure to act now will be seen as another indication, potentially a last straw for many, that the Church is not serious about racial sin. Disregarding a significant part of the population, and thus denying the gifts they bring for the service of the Church, is a loss to us all." - page 17 of From Lament to Action

The report set out five recommended 'priority areas', with time-bound actions in each, and seven thematic areas of work for the Racial Justice Commission as it examines broader, systemic questions of racism.

The report paints a vision for the Church and how we might in the future lead our nation on issues of anti-racism and racial justice.

  • In August 2022, the national church also announced the appointment of its first racial equality director (see summary story and onward link below).

From Lament to Action: Priority areas

Priority area 1: Participation

Ensuring the full participation of UKME/Global Majority Heritage Anglicans in the life of the Church of England through the use of co-opted powers in governance bodies, new requirements around appointments, and fundamental changes to data gathering, targets and reporting.

Priority area 2: Education

The C of E plays a vital role in education. This priority area considers content and curriculum development, equipping teachers, tutors, and other educators with appropriate training, and making governing boards, teaching staff, and the student population more inclusive.

Priority area 3: Training and mentoring

To achieve lasting change and to embed anti-racism practice at all levels, the Taskforce proposes mandatory facilitated learning programmes to embed anti-racism practice, and nationally-produced resources for all involved in discernment and formation processes.

Priority area 4: Young people

This priority area seeks to create opportunities for UKME/GMH young people to participate within the Church both locally and systematically, while also seeking to see UKME/GMH young people at the heart of the congregation, which the Church of England historically has not done.

Priority area 5: Structures and governance

The Taskforce recommends ‘consciously modifying the structures and governance of C of E to allow for the effective participation of UKME/GMH people at every level.’ This includes amending governance practices, processes and behaviours, from PCCs to General Synod.


Our Bishop's Adviser on UKME Issues

This is a key role on the Bishop's Leadership Team (which is currently known as the Vision and Strategy Group while the role of the Bishop of Blackburn is vacant). 

It is currently held by Rev. Sarah Gill, pictured, who is Vicar of Blackburn St Stephen and St James and is also an Assistant Archdeacon of Blackburn. 

The role of the Adviser is to support the Bishop of Blackburn and advise on issues related to Minority Ethnic/Global Majority Heritage Affairs (UKME/GMH) nationally, at diocesan level or locally.

Sarah will also promote the understanding of racial justice and cultural diversity across the Diocese and offer support through prayer, challenge, counsel, advocacy and in other appropriate ways.

She says: "Racial justice is not a responsibility of a particular group or organisation, but also a call is made to all who would like to consider every human being made in the image of God.

"It is incumbent on the Church to engage and collaborate with all those who through prayer and action would like to work towards the end of injustice and racism.

"The Diocese of Blackburn is committed to promote and exercise Racial Justice in its call to serve humanity in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

"Our commitment to Racial Justice is rooted in Jesus Christ who stood with the poor, the vulnerable, oppressed and the marginal in social and religious structures and society at large."


Church of England appoints Racial Equality Director

On August 25, 2022 the Church of England nationally, announced the appointment of its first racial equality director.

The appointment follows apologies for its role in the trafficking and enslavement of African people.

Anglican priest Guy Hewitt, pictured, who is a former Barbados high commissioner to the UK, will take up the post in November and lead the national church Racial Justice Unit.


Blackburn Diocese 'Racial Justice Task and Finish Group' 

In response to the national racial justice agenda in the Church of England, locally in our Diocese we have formed a 'Racial Justice Task and Finish Group'. 

Terms of reference for the Group: 

  • The Racial Justice Task and Finish group is formed in response to ‘From Lament to Action’ document.
  • The group will support the UKME Adviser to the Bishop on racial justice and cultural diversity affairs
  • The group will engage with the recommendations mentioned in the document ‘From Lament to Action’ and work out how best the document can be translated in our diocesan context.
  • The group will organise different seminars/open day(s) to raise awareness for the racial justice and promote it.

The group is meeting regularly throughout 2022 with a view to reporting recommendations for action in due course to the Bishop's Leadership Team (which is currently known as the Vision and Strategy Group while the role of the Bishop of Blackburn is vacant). 

 

Archbishop's Racial Justice Commission

At a national level the Archbishops have formed a Racial Justice Commission.

The Commission is charged with setting out a compelling agenda for change, in careful gospel-driven discernment, balancing the needs of individuals, communities and society, maximising opportunities, and ensuring fairness for all.

The Commission will report to the Archbishops every six months during the three-year period 2021-2023, with recommendations to help the Archbishops fulfil their commitments to identify, respond to, and root out systemic racism in the Church.

The members of the Commission are:

Lord Boateng, a former Cabinet Minister and High Commissioner to South Africa (Chair);
Professor Anthony Reddie, Department of Theology, University of Oxford;
Canon Chigor Chike, Chair of the Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN);
Professor Duncan Morrow, Department of Politics, Ulster University
Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive, Ofcom
Professor Mike Higton, Department of Theology, Durham University
Lord Wei of Shoreditch, serial social Entrepreneur and social reformer
Dr Nirmala Pillay, School of Law, Leeds Becket University
Canon Patricia Hillas, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
The Revd Dr Philip Anderson, Canon Precentor, Liverpool Cathedral
The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover
The Revd Sonia Barron, diocesan director of vocations, diocese of Lincoln.


A prayer for racial justice

Lord Jesus Christ, who crossed boundaries and borders, help us to love our neighbours and break down barriers in our communities. Wounded Healer, who made blind eyes see and deaf ears hear, enable us to perceive the reality of racism, bigotry and racial injustice in ourselves and our society. Prince of Peace, Inspire us to celebrate difference and reconcile division and help re-imagine this world as a place where justice and peace kiss and freedom abounds. Amen


Other key links


Events

30 November 2022 at 6pm - Rev Sarah Gill is organising an informal gathering aimed at those from a UK minority.

 

 

Ronnie Semley, page updated regularly