Church must face racism, says black archbishop
The man who is about to become the first ever black archbishop in the Church of England's history believes that it must face up to racism and the under-representation of minority ethnic groups in its ranks.
Dr John Sentamu, Bishop of Birmingham and Archbishop-designate of York, made his latest comments about what he has dubbed the 'monochrome culture' of the Church in his foreword to a new book, 'Rejection, Resistance and Resurrection: Speaking Out Against Racism in the Church' by Mukti Barton, his current adviser on black and Asian issues.
"The stories in this book speak of the pain of what it is to undergo institutional racism", writes the bishop. "The cost is in terms of the lives of people who are hampered in their growth into the image of God created in them."
Dr Sentumu continues: "The people who came from the Caribbean had a double diaspora in their cultural histories - the dislocation caused by the uprooting from Africa and into slavery and then the second diaspora as they met and experienced British society in the nineteen fifties and sixties."
Once once he is enthroned as the second-highest ranking Anglican prelate In England, in November 2005, Dr Sentamu - a one-time Ugandan high court judge who fled Idi Amin's terror - will continue to give priority to tackling hidden racism in the Church.
He played a major role in encouraging the churches to speak out against institutional racism in 1999, following the public enquiry in the wake of the death of teenager Stephen Lawrence.
However, Dr Sentamu will face opposition from some conservatives. On Monday the Daily Telegraph newspaper ran an editorial ridiculing the influence of what it called 'the race relations industry' on the Church of England, the Catholic Church and the Methodists.
The archbishop-designate, a lively communicator, is also keen not to be typecast as a 'one-issue leader'. He shares with Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a belief that Christianity in Britain must "re-connect with the culture" and he has said he will make mission a priority.
Dr Sentamu also backs the extension of 'restorative justice' programmes.
'Rejection, Resistance and Resurrection' is published by Darton, Longman and Todd, who also recently issued a collection of essays called 'Consuming Passion: Why the killing of Jesus really matters', edited jointly by Ekklesia's co-directors. This looks at the link between Christian doctrine and violence.