Church of England to increase minority ethnic presence in House of Bishops

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The Church of England has agreed plans to increase the number of clergy from minority ethnic backgrounds who serve on the House of Bishops.

At present, only four bishops out of 53 are from UK minority ethnic (UKME) or global majority heritage (GMH) backgrounds.

The Committee of the House has approved a scheme under which at least 10 of those present at future meetings of the House will be UKME or GMH. 

They may be members in their own right or participate as suffragan bishops or priests elected to be 'observers'. 

In addition to the existing four UKME/GMH bishops, another three suffragan bishops have been invited to join meetings of the House as observers. 

The scheme was one of the recommendations in the report of the Archbishops' Anti-Racism Taskforce, 'From Lament to Action', published in April last year with a call to the Church to do more to address racial inequality within its own structures. 

The Church of England said it hoped the scheme, which will come into effect in the spring, will be a "catalyst for change" and make the leadership of the Church of England more representative. 

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: "This may seem like a small step to some, but it ensures that a diversity of voices and experiences enriches the discussions of the House of Bishops as we seek to be a church that truly embraces people of global majority heritage at every level of its life.

"I am grateful for the work that has gone into making this possible. This is a step on the journey. I look forward to the blessings this change enables and the way forward it opens up."

Canon Dr Sanjee Perera, the Archbishops' Adviser on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, said: "We are pleased to report progress from the House on this From Lament To Action recommendation and be able to celebrate having 10 people of UK Minority Ethnic/Global Majority Heritage in the House of Bishops with the arrival of the 'Participant observers' in a few months.

"We hope this will create a catalyst for change that will enrich the Church according to the calling of the gospel."