Photograph: Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford
5 February 2021 - The Diocese of Oxford welcomes its first UKME Development Enabler this week, strengthening its resolve to encourage, support and promote UKME vocations, participation and representation at all levels across the Diocese.
Already a familiar face in the diocese thanks to her curacy training, the Revd Polly Falconer was appointed in January and joined the team at Church House 'virtually' on Monday. Polly, who was ordained a deacon in September 2020 and will be priested in June, has over 30 years' experience of working in the mental health sector, specialising in supporting marginalised communities.
Prior to her calling, she worked closely with a national charity supporting the Gypsy and Traveller community, as well as leading mental health training at The Afiya Trust.
"I am hugely excited about this role, not only because the time is right to bring the BAME community into sharper focus within the church, thanks to key movements like Black Lives Matter, but also because personally, the struggles I experienced as a Black woman in the Church- whether conscious or unconscious- made me realise that to really make a difference, I needed to be at the centre of change.
"I feel very much that God has called me to this role, and I am so thrilled that I am able to combine it with my ministry as a self-supporting minister."
Speaking about Polly's appointment, Director of Mission & Ministry Andrew Anderson-Gear says,"We are delighted to welcome Polly and see her role as pivotal in addressing the under-representation of the UKME community across the diocese.
"As a diverse, multi-cultural diocese, we need to be reflective of our community and their needs, and Polly will be instrumental in helping us to ensure that we are leading by example - promoting a better understanding of racism, racial issues and cultural diversity.
"We firmly believe that we are all part of the body of Christ, 'made in the image of God, fully human', and in this way the contribution of every part of the body is valued, recognised and supported. Whilst Polly sits within our team, she will be working with colleagues and communities across the Diocese to develop an understanding of the root causes of under-representation and help us to work towards resolving this issue and to support the developing community of UKME Anglicans across the Diocese of Oxford."
Although realistic about the scale and ambition of the project, Polly wants to be a resource for the whole Diocese, working from the centre, carrying people with her on her journey, building relationships and changing attitudes.
When asked what her vision for this time next year is, she says,
"In a year's time, it is my hope that this role will be seen not as a 'specialist' role but a core part of the diocese - just as you would see any other role that enables an organisation to be the best it can be, enabling us to become a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God's world."
More on racial justice
Head over to our racial justice webpages for news, resources and more. We also have a UKME Chapter, offering pastoral support to ordained clergy and licensed lay ministers (LLMs) with a license to officiate within the Diocese of Oxford.