Church of England pledges £100m in funding to address slavery injustices

(Photo: Unsplash/Daniel Roe)

The Church of England has created a £100m fund after a report confirmed its investment arm's historic links to transatlantic slavery. 

The origins of the Church Commissioners' endowment can be traced partly to the Queen Anne's Bounty, a fund established in 1704, a new report confirms. 

The £100m fund will go towards a programme of investment, research and engagement "to address some of the past wrongs by investing in a better future", the Church Commissioners' Board said.

The funding will be delivered over a period of nine years, with a particular focus on communities affected by historic slavery.

"It is hoped this fund will grow over time, reinvesting returns to enable it to have a positive legacy that will exist in perpetuity, and with the potential for other institutions to participate, further enabling growth in the size and impact of the fund," the Board said. 

Part of the money will be used to fund research by Church of England cathedrals, dioceses and parishes into historic links with slavery.

The Board has also committed to being a responsible investor to tackle modern-day slavery. 

An oversight group will be established this year with a "significant" number of members from communities impacted by slavery.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who is also Chair of the Church Commissioners, said: "The full report lays bare the links of the Church Commissioners' predecessor fund with transatlantic chattel slavery. I am deeply sorry for these links.

"It is now time to take action to address our shameful past.

"Only by obeying the command in 1 John 1:6-7 and addressing our past transparently can we take the path that Jesus Christ calls us to walk and face our present and future with integrity.

"It is hard to do this at a time when resources in many parishes are so stretched, but by acting rightly we open ourselves to the blessing of God."

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Dr David Walker, Deputy Chair of the Church Commissioners, said:
"It is important for the Church Commissioners to understand and be transparent about our past so we can best support the mission and ministry of the Church of England, today and in the future.

"Discovering that the Church Commissioners' predecessor fund had links to transatlantic chattel slavery is shaming and we are deeply sorry."