The Diocese of Southwark has seen a marked increase in candidates from UKME* backgrounds being recommended for ordination training. Thirty percent of the candidates who were recommended in the year to July 2021 come from UKME backgrounds. That is five out of a total of 17 candidates. This is the highest percentage in recent years. In 2016 the number was 25%.
Four out of the five candidates have also been recommended for leadership positions – incumbent status, meaning their potential to lead a parish has been recognised.
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said,
This is a very encouraging development and reflects the intentionality and hard work of the Vocations Team to this good purpose over ten years. We all have a part to play in encouraging UKME candidates to be open to God’s call and explore vocational discernment. We must not lose sight of the need for our leadership in the Church of England, and this Diocese in particular, to reflect the full diversity of our parish communities of faith.
Diocesan Director of Ordinands, the Revd Canon Leanne Roberts, said,
We are delighted that our dedicated, intentional work over the past nine years or so has visibly borne fruit, and our current numbers show the Diocese’s commitment to ensuring that those who go forward for ordained ministry are truly representative of the people we serve here in South London and East Surrey. Under Bishop Christopher’s leadership many people have given much energy and time to encourage vocations from the UKME community, not least the Revd Canon Roxanne Eversley in being our UKME Vocations Champion and our team of Vocations Advisers, Directors of Ordinands, and Examining Chaplains. There is still much work to be done, and we look forward to creating new initiatives which best serve parishes and chaplaincies in the Diocese of Southwark.
Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Deputy Director of Vocations, the Revd Raymond Baudon, said,
We are delighted to see so many talented people who come from a UKME background being recommended for training this year. It is a testament to the wonderful diversity of our Diocese and the courage and commitment of those who have offered themselves for ministry in the Church of England. It is also a testament to the very intentional work of the Diocesan Vocations Team in recent years to encourage and promote vocations in people who have historically been under-represented in our churches. The Diocese, as a whole, is committed to continuing this work and learning how we can do it better so that in the future the Church is representative of our diversity at all levels and in all forms of ministry.
In March this year, the Diocese’s Synod unanimously approved the Diocese of Southwark Anti-Racism Charter. Archdeacon of Croydon, the Venerable Dr. Rosemarie Mallett, who is the Diocesan Lead on Racial Justice, said, “The Diocese of Southwark has committed itself to an anti-racism strategy across all aspects of our diocesan life together. A key part of the Southwark vision is the identifying and training of future church leaders, lay and ordained, so that the leadership better reflects the people and parishes we serve. Therefore, it is good news to learn that 30% of all the candidates who have been recommended for ordination training beginning in autumn 2021 come from a UKME background. This figure is close to the number of people from UKME and global majority origin and heritage in our churches and in the wider parish also. It is also good to hear that the majority of those recommended will be training for incumbency status and their gifts for leadership in the Church recognised. We are thankful for all who have encouraged and enabled these candidates and look forward to their blessing the Church through their service in years to come.”
The Revd Sandra Schloss is Vicar of St Luke’s Church, Peckham. She is also Area Dean of Camberwell and Convenor of the Woolwich Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns Committee, (MEACC), one of the three Episcopal Area MEACCs, the others being Kingston and Croydon. The MEACCs form the Diocesan MEACC. She welcomes the findings, “This is indeed really good news. What to me is really important to note is that four out of five are being recommended for incumbent status. This is a change from the days when UKME people were not seen as leaders. I feel that the Diocese of Southwark is doing all it can to change the dynamic, and recognises that UKME people can be leaders, especially as there are many black majority Anglican churches who can begin to see that they too can be leaders in the Church of England.”
Written By: Sophia Jones