'Lack of desire' among black people to join the CofE

(Photo: Unsplash/James Eades)

Black people are reluctant to join the Church of England because of concerns around racial injustice, an Archdeacon has said. 

The Ven Elizabeth Adekunle told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that there was frustration over "injustices" experienced by black clergy and a "lack of understanding" about racial issues. 

She said this lack of understanding was not limited to the Church of England but prevalent in wider society, and that it may lead to more protests and unrest "if we are not willing and able to address the injustices in our society and that includes the church". 

She made the comments ahead of a meeting on Wednesday between the Archbishop of Canterbury and clergy from BAME backgrounds.

"I think that we are already seeing a lack of desire of black people wanting to join the church over frustration among black clergy about the injustices they face and a lack of understanding of racial issues – and that's not just the church, I think that's been reflected time and time again," the Ven Adekunle told the Today Programme. 

"And what I think will happen is what has happened in the US where we have already seen small numbers of civil disobedience in society." 

She added: "People are frustrated and angry, and they are in a position now to want to voice those opinions."

Racism has moved up the agenda for the Church of England this year.

A new commission was established by the Church in June to implement "significant and structural" change around racial justice. 

That followed a two-minute silence on Windrush Day to lament the racism experienced by members of the Windrush generation who attempted to join Church of England churches only to be shunned and turned away. 

Prior to that, the Church of England apologised for its ties to slavery, calling them a "source of shame".

After the death of black man George Floyd in the US, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Christians should remember that Jesus was "not white". 

When statues were toppled in the ensuing anti-racism protests, the Archbishop said monuments in the Church of England would be reviewed