From Lament to Action

The report of the Archbishops’ Taskforce

Racism exists in the Church of England. We need every person in every church and every school to root it out. The Anti-Racism Taskforce report, published in the same week as a disturbing edition of BBC Panorama, makes 47 recommendations to achieve lasting change, and it is required reading for us all.

Amid rising concern about insufficient progress towards racial justice, equality and inclusion within the Church of England, the House of Bishops agreed last year to the creation of an Archbishops’ Taskforce, which would lead to a Commission.

The Taskforce researched what had already been achieved. It identified 25 previous reports and 161 formal recommendations relating to racial justice in the past 36 years but struggled to discern the flourishing of UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) Anglicans as a result. As is clear from the title of the report, urgent action is required.

“A failure to act now will be seen as another indication, potentially a last straw for many, that the Church is not serious about racial sin. Disregarding a significant part of the population, and thus denying the gifts they bring for the service of the Church, is a loss to us all.”
– page 17, From Lament to Action

We must not let this report gather dust

Bishop of Oxford welcomes the report

The report sets out five recommended priority areas, with time-bound actions in each, and seven thematic areas of work for the Racial Justice Commission as it examines broader, systemic questions of racism.

The report paints a vision for the Church and how we might in the future lead our nation on issues of anti-racism and racial justice.

Revd Polly Falconer, BAME Development Enabler for the Diocese of Oxford, says:

“We welcome the opportunities this report provides us with. This is about us being the best we can be; a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world.”

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, also welcomed the report:

“The world is crying out for society, for the economy, for our institutions, to be fair and just. Discrimination on the grounds of race or colour is unacceptable. We are each agents of the change we want to see, and we must not let this report gather dust.”

The Taskforce report is relevant to every Anglican in every place. Each of us has a stake in the flourishing of the Church and in its mandate of justice for all.

Take time to download and read the report and ensure it is tabled for discussion by your PCC.

The world is crying out for society, for the economy, for our institutions, to be fair and just. We are each agents of the change we want to see, we must not let this report gather dust.

Priority area 1: Participation

Ensuring the full participation of UKME/Global Majority Heritage Anglicans in the life of the Church of England through the use of co-opted powers in governance bodies, new requirements around appointments, and fundamental changes to data gathering, targets and reporting.

Priority area 2: Education

The CofE plays a vital role in education. This priority area considers content and curriculum development, equipping teachers, tutors, and other educators with appropriate training, and making governing boards, teaching staff, and the student population more inclusive.

Priority area 3: Training and Mentoring

To achieve lasting change and to embed anti-racism practice at all levels, the Taskforce proposes mandatory facilitated learning programmes to embed anti-racism practice, and nationally-produced resources for all involved in discernment and formation processes.

Priority area 4: Young People

This priority area seeks to create opportunities for UKME/GMH young people to participate within the Church both locally and systematically, while also seeking to see UKME/GMH young people at the heart of the congregation, which the Church of England historically has not done.

Priority area 5: Structures and Governance

The Taskforce recommends ‘consciously modifying the structures and governance of CofE to allow for the effective participation of UKME/GMH people at every level.’ This includes amending governance practices, processes and behaviours, from PCCs to General Synod.

BBC Panorama programme

Complaints and whistleblowing

This week BBC Panorama broadcast its investigation into allegations of racism in the Church of England. In the programme people say that ‘they have been told to ‘turn the other cheek’ when they have raised complaints; others say they have suffered in silence for fear of further discrimination or losing their jobs.’

The Diocese of Oxford has complaints and whistleblowing policies in place designed to avoid such issues. We encourage any church officer, parishioner or member of clergy who has experienced racism to get in touch using the links available on the website: oxford.anglican.org/complaints-whistle-blowing

Further reading and links

Hear from Revd Shemil Mathew, part of the chaplaincy team at Oxford Brookes University, and Dr Elizabeth Henry, former national adviser for Minority-Ethnic Anglican Concerns, as they discuss From Lament to Action with BBC Radio Oxford’s Lilley Mitchell.