Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold


20 Apr 2021, 9:45 p.m.

I am writing to you in light of the BBC Panorama documentary aired last night. This programme was distressing and saddening and it brought to light, the lived experience of many people of Minority Ethnic in the Church of England.

The topic of discussion was ‘ Is the Church Racist?’. The written response from the National Church is available here. During the programme, Archbishop Cottrell pointed out that the membership of the church, in most cases, are welcoming, loving and inclusive. This is the case for many of our churches in the Diocese of Guildford. Nonetheless, many of our structures, language and modus operandi, are such that they create a system of structural racism. The experiences shared bears witness to this and they are not isolated cases to which our Diocese is immune.

One of the case studies shown was that of the Rev’d Alwyn Pereira. This particular case was close to us all, as he is a valued member of our Diocese. Whilst his experience was in another Diocese, and remains unresolved, it is still the responsibility of this Diocese to support him and pray with him. We take this very seriously

I am sure this programme has raised various issues for many Minority Ethnic people, both Lay and Ordained. In fact, I hope that we all wrestle with this. As Saint Paul reminds his readers in 2 Corinthians, we are all part of the same Body of Christ, and when a part is suffering the whole body feels it and should help in healing the wounds.

Could I encourage each of us to use this occasion, to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us show how much we care for each other by seeking justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God and each other.

Here in Guildford Diocese, our Racial Justice Focus Group is already at work and expects to welcome the Anti-racism Commission report from the National Church to be published on Stephen Lawrence Day.

If you would like to know more or have contributions to make in this area, I would direct you to the Bishops’ Adviser on Minority Ethnic Affairs (Rev’d Beverley Hunt) or the Minority Ethnic Vocations Adviser (Rev’d Folli Olokose). Of course you may also speak with our Archdeacons Paul and Martin, with our DDO Rev’d Craig Holmes or with me.

Please join me in praying for, and actively living into, the kingdom of God - a kingdom of justice, fairness, love and mercy, which is already evident among us.

May we all know God’s peace – which far exceeds all that we ask or deserve.
Bishop Jo