He is the sixth of thirteen children. Encouraged in his education by English missionaries and teachers, he graduated in law from Makerere University, Kampala and is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda. He practised Law both at the Bar and at the Bench before he came to the UK in 1974.
He read theology at Selwyn College Cambridge where he gained a Masters Degree and a Doctorate. He trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, then part of the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges. Following his ordination in 1979 he served as Assistant Chaplain at Selwyn College, Cambridge. From 1979-1982 he was Chaplain at HM Remand Centre Latchmere House and Curate of St Andrew's, Ham in the Diocese of Southwark.
From 1982-1983 he was Curate of St Paul's Church, Herne Hill, in South London and from 1983-1984 Priest-in-Charge at Holy Trinity, Tulse Hill and Parish Priest of St Matthias Upper Tulse Hill. He then became Vicar of the joint benefice of Holy Trinity and St Matthias from 1984-1986. Between 1987 and 1989 he was also Priest-in-Charge of St Saviour Brixton Hill.
He was appointed Bishop for Stepney in 1996, Bishop for Birmingham in 2002 and Archbishop of York in 2005. He is Primate of England and Metropolitan, a member of the House of Lords and a Privy Councillor.
From 1997 to 1999, Dr Sentamu was Adviser to the Stephen Lawrence Judicial Inquiry and he chaired the Damilola Taylor Murder Review in 2002. He chaired the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme from 2001 to November 2013. He supported and advised workers affected by the closure of the Rover car plant in Birmingham and campaigned against guns, knives, drugs and gangs throughout the Midlands, after the killings of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare and worked hard to ensure that their killers were brought to trial.
Between 2002 and 2004 he was Chairman of the EC1 New Deal. He became President of Youth for Christ in 2004 and President of the YMCA in April 2005. In 2009, the Archbishop set up his Youth Trust and also launched his online charity Acts435 – for anyone who has need. In 2013, Dr John Sentamu, chaired an independent Commission on the future of the Living Wage; this followed from his work as Sponsor of the Fairness Commission in York. The Archbishop is Chair of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission which is investigating the human and environmental impact of the activity of multinational oil companies operating in Bayelsa State, in the Niger Delta.
Dr Sentamu is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. His interests include music, cooking, reading, athletics, rugby and football. He is married to Margaret, and they have two grown-up children, Grace and Geoffrey and two grown-up foster children.
Dr John Sentamu will retire from his post as Archbishop of York on 7 June 2020. Read his statement
Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, L.L.B. 1971.
Selwyn College, Cambridge, B.A. 1976, M.A. 1979, Ph.D. 1984
Ridley Hall, Cambridge.
Deacon 1979, Priest 1979
Chaplain, HM Remand Centre, Latchmere House 1979 – 1982
Assistant Curate, Ham St Andrew, Diocese of Southwark, 1979 – 1982
Assistant Curate, Herne Hill St Paul, Diocese of Southwark, 1982 – 1983
Priest-in-Charge, Tulse Hill Holy Trinity, Diocese of Southwark, 1983 – 1984
Vicar, Upper Tulse Hill St Matthias, Diocese of Southwark, 1983 – 1984
Vicar, Tulse Hill Holy Trinity and St Matthias, Diocese of Southwark, 1985 – 1996
Priest-in-Charge, Brixton Hill St Saviour, Diocese of Southwark, 1987 – 1989
Honorary Canon Southwark Cathedral, 1993 – 1996
Area Bishop, Stepney, Diocese of London, 1996 – 2002
Consecrated 25 September 1996 in St Paul's Cathedral
Bishop for Birmingham, 2002 – 2005
Inaugurated 16 November 2002 in Birmingham Cathedral
Elected as Archbishop of York 21 July 2005
Confirmed as 97th Archbishop of York on 5 October 2005 in St Mary-le-Bow, London
Inaugurated 30 November 2005 in York Minster.