The House of Bishops has voted to back the creation of the Archbishops’ Racism Action Commission to start work early next year in order to implement ‘significant cultural and structural’ change within the Church of England on race. The commission would also monitor progress in implementing change.
Preparatory work ahead of the launch of the commission will be carried out by a Task Force, the House of Bishops said, as part of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to tackling racism within the Church.
The bishops said they wanted to make clear that swift action was needed to ensure change after a series of reports on racial justice and equality in the Church of England, including recommendations on action to combat racism.
In spite of previous reports and apologies for racism within the Church of England, there has been 'insufficient' progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion, the bishops said.
‘For the Church to be a credible voice in calling for change across the world, we must now ensure that apologies and lament are accompanied by swift actions leading to real change,’ the bishops noted.
The announcement comes after the General Synod voted in February to apologise for racism experienced by black and minority ethnic people in the Church of England since the arrival of the Windrush Generation.
Speaking to the General Synod, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said there was ‘no doubt’ that the Church of England was still ‘deeply institutionally racist’.
In the vote today, the bishops of the Church of England also backed reiterating an apology issued in 2006 by the General Synod for the Church of England’s role in the slave trade.