Mandated to drive ‘significant cultural and structural change on issues of racial justice within the Church of England’, the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice (“ACRJ”), headed by The Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng, is charged with monitoring, holding to account and supporting the implementation of the forty-seven recommendations of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce which were laid out in the Taskforce’s comprehensive 2021 report From Lament to Action.
In his foreword letter to the third Report, Lord Boateng continues to praise the work of the Church Commissioners on Project Spire but calls for a process that places Africa, the Caribbean and their Diaspora at its heart in order to ensure restorative justice.
The third Report celebrates the impressive work of the “Leaders Like Us” programme which is revolutionising leadership development in education [Culture & Liturgy, pg 33]. The Report also welcomes the first disbursement (of approximately £0.75m) by the Racial Justice Triennium Fund approval panel following submissions by a number of dioceses. It hopes and encourages other dioceses needing to develop a social justice plan and/or put a strategy in place to take advantage of the small grants available. [Patronage, Governance and Funding, p47].
Much of the focus of the Report is on the notion of reparation, with a theological reflection contributed by Professor Anthony Reddie [Pg 19] and a paper on the theological case for reparation by Professor Mike Higton [Revisiting the Rustat Case, pg 51]. The Report also comments on recent developments in Contested Heritage and includes an update from the Head of Conservation, Cathedral & Church Buildings Division on progress being made, and how the Commission’s work on the theology of contested heritage will be used by the Division to inform its work in relation to faculty jurisdiction for church buildings [pg 27] [Theology; Slavery; History & Memory]
The Commission continues to monitor revisions to the Clergy Discipline Measure, expressing concern at the lack of baseline data across the National Church Institutions to ensure that the recommendations of From Lament to Action can be realised. [Complaints Handling, pg 39 and Participation, pg 41]
Commenting on the third Report, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “As we reach the mid-way point of the Commission’s vital work, it’s encouraging to hear of the progress that has been made to ensure the Church is a place where all of God’s children feel welcomed and valued. However, I am under no illusion that there is so much more to be done if we are going to be the Church which reflects the arms of Christ reached out to all on the Cross. I hope the next eighteen months of the Commission’s work will continue to challenge the Church to reflect, repent, and transform - and at pace. I continue to pray for the Commission and the Racial Justice Unit, for those who are giving their time and expertise to this work, and for all those affected by the injustice, racism and oppression that has no place in God’s Church.”
The Archbishop of York said: "It is imperative that we continue to listen and learn from the Commission. We need to act expeditiously to tear down the barriers that remain if ever we are to transform our ministry and witness and be a church that honours, values and gives voice to all of God’s children."
About the Commission
The Commission reports to the Archbishops every six month with recommendations to help the Archbishops fulfil their commitments to identify, respond to, and root out systemic racism in the Church.
Full Membership: Archbishops Commission for Racial Justice
Chair: The Rt Hon Lord (Paul) Boateng, Former Cabinet Minister and High Commissioner to South Africa
Professor Anthony Reddie, Department of Theology, University of Oxford
The Revd Canon Dr Chigor Chike, Former Chair, Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN); Vicar, Forest Gate (Emmanuel with St Peter) Upton Cross, Chelmsford Diocese
Professor Duncan Morrow, Department of Politics, Ulster University
Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive, Ofcom
Professor Mike Higton, Department of Theology, Durham University
Lord (Nat) Wei of Shoreditch, Serial Social Entrepreneur and Social Reformer
Dr Nirmala Pillay, School of Law, Leeds Beckett University
The Revd Canon Patricia Hillas, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
The Revd Canon Dr Philip Anderson, Canon Precentor, Liverpool Cathedral
The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover
The Revd Sonia Barron, Diocesan Director of Vocations, Diocese of Lincoln