The Revd Sonia Barron, Director of Ordinands and Vocations in the diocese has been chosen to co-chair the national Church of England’s Anti-Racism Taskforce, alongside Revd Arun Arora, a Vicar in the Diocese of Durham.

The Taskforce and Commission, a joint project by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, were announced earlier this year amid rising concern about insufficient progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion within the Church of England.

There are seven other members and their role is to carry out preparatory work ahead of the launch of a new Archbishops’ Commission that will address racism that is due to be launched in Spring 2021.

This will include making recommendations for immediate action that can be taken by the Church of England to improve its record on racial justice and equality. They will also recommend the proposed remit and membership of the Commission.

For example, since 1985 there have been more than 160 formal recommendations on racial justice in the Church of England with the overwhelming majority made in reports from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) and its predecessor, the Committee on Black Anglican Concerns. One of the aims of the Taskforce is to identify any recommendations which have not yet been implemented that could be put into force immediately. The Taskforce is expected to complete its work by the end of January.

Revd Sonia Barron, Co-Chair of the Taskforce, and a former adviser to the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, (CMEAC) said: "I am hopeful, given the commitment expressed by both our Archbishops, that progress on the issue of making the structures and systems in the Church of England more impartial will become a reality, in order that we can live our life together with integrity and equity, worthy of the calling we have received from Jesus Christ, our Head."

Revd Arun Arora said: “For more than thirty years the Church of England has been talking about racism, making recommendations and passing resolutions. Despite this the Church remains a place which is poorer for the lack of participation of all God’s people in the fullness of its life together. The time has now come for urgent implementation and action. The purpose of the Taskforce and Commission will not be to produce more reports but rather to directly address the sin of racism and those impediments that prevent the Church from fulfilling its call so that racial justice is both done and is seen to be done.”

  • There are five serving bishops from UK minority ethnic (UKME) backgrounds currently in the Church of England. But there are no diocesan bishops currently from UKME backgrounds, following the retirement earlier this year of the former Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
  • Fewer than four per cent of serving clergy identify as being from a UKME background, according to the latest statistics. 
  • One in 10 of the people recommended this year for training for ordained ministry in the Church of England were from UKME backgrounds.
  • The General Synod voted in February to apologise for racism experienced by UKME 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’.