Diocese of Oxford welcomes first BAME Development Enabler

Polly Falconer

Photographs: Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford

5 February 2021 – The Diocese of Oxford welcomed its first BAME Development Enabler this week, strengthening its resolve to encourage, support and promote BAME vocations, participation and representation at all levels across the Diocese. Already a familiar face in the Diocese thanks to her curacy training, 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 & 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.

Polly Falconer

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 BAME 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 BAME Anglicans across the Diocese of Oxford.”

Polly Falconer

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.”

Hear more from Polly

A Prayer for Racial Justice Sunday 2021

The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce has released a prayer ahead of Racial Justice Sunday this weekend, written by the Revd Dr Anderson Jeremiah, a member of the taskforce.

Love incarnate,
Fountain of Mercy and Justice
In a world of inequity and pain
May our actions be our prayer.
We cry out for Shalom, fullness of life to all.
Let the Spirit of Truth guide us.
Let the Spirit of Love free us.
Give us the compassion, courage and resolve
to become the light, we seek
that many may see life and their dignity restored
Inspire us to embody a world without injustice and prejudice
Form us into channels of your love and peace
Let the river of justice and mercy flood our imperfect world
Quenching the thirst of parched souls and lands.
Abide in us o Liberator that we become the Word
so that the world may have Life, Life in all its abundance.

Taken from the book Christian Aid book Rage & Hope: 75 Prayers for a Better World, edited by Chine McDonald.