General Synod backs call for ‘crucial resources’ to remain available for racial justice work


Racial justice work in the Church of England is not a 'box ticking' exercise, says Bishop of Dover
Bishop of Dover Geoff Crawford: Church of England

The General Synod has backed a call for ‘crucial’ resources to remain available for racial justice as members heard that more work needs to be done for the full inclusion of Global Majority Heritage (GMH) people in the Church of England.

Synod members commended the outcomes in From Lament to Action, the report from the Archbishops’ Racial Justice Taskforce that sets out a series of recommendations for the Church on racial justice in the areas of participation, governance, training, education and young people.

The Synod approved a call to request the Archbishops’ Council ensure effective monitoring of racial justice in the Church of England after the Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission has completed its term.

The Commission began work following preparatory work by the Taskforce on scrutinising the Church of England's policies, practices and culture in relation to racial justice. Its three-year term finishes in November this year.

Introducing the debate at the Synod, the Bishop of Dover Rose Hudson-Wilkin said the Church of England cannot just pay ‘lip service’ to racial justice but needs to ensure the right resources are available for this work.

She said: “I am in no doubt that the church must continue to work at embedding racial justice in all its life and structures. Lip service will not do, neither will ticking boxes. If we are going to do justice to this then we must allocate resources, both in the form of people, finance and governance.”

She added that there had been some progress on racial justice in the church including recent appointments of GMH clergy to Suffragan Bishop posts. This represented a ‘glimmer of hope’ for the Church, she said, but more needed to be done to ensure GMH people in the Church rise to senior positions.

“I ask the question, how easy will it be for GMH suffragans to seamlessly become diocesan bishops - and we only need to look at the picture of bishops who happen to be women; they are already occupying suffragan roles in significant numbers but rarely being considered for diocesan roles,” she said.

“I do not believe that there are no GMH clergy with a vocation or a calling to become a diocesan, to become incumbents, deans, archdeacons. I am not convinced that there are no GMH individuals with a desire to be diocesan secretaries or TEI principals."

The motion backed by the General Synod:

‘That this Synod:

  1. commend the practical and positive outcomes in From Lament to Action but recognising the need to further embed racial justice in the life and practice of our Church, request that the national Church ensures crucial resources remain available including appropriate governance arrangement and funding, recommend that Dioceses give priority to the collection, monitoring and measuring of relevant data, and encourage parishes and deaneries to develop local action plans to address issues of racial injustice.
  2. note that the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice shall complete its mandated three-year term in November 2024 and request the Archbishops’ Council ensure effective structures exist for monitoring actions and outcomes on racial justice, including a possible review and strengthening of the role of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, and that the Synod Group Sessions in February 2025 review the progress made by Dioceses, the NCIs and other related institutions in implementing the recommendations in From Lament to Action.’

The motion was passed by a counted vote of the whole Synod: 364 in favour, none against and two abstentions.