Revd Eileen Harrop writes: Bishop Paul welcomed officers and participants of AMEN to the Diocese on Saturday 23rd November 2019. AMEN is a national network of lay and ordained members of the Church of England. Among other things AMEN seeks to support Church of England Dioceses to develop clear, time-bound strategies for increasing Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) participation in ministry and leadership. The Network founded three years ago has a membership of over a hundred and twenty people from various Dioceses across the Church of England.
A special feature of this year’s AMEN AGM was a presentation of the Church of England Reform and Renewal programme (https://www.churchofengland.org/about/renewal-reform), which resources churches to reach out to communities across England. Of the participants in the Church of England’s Strategic Leadership Development programme, only ten per cent are of BAME heritage. The Church of England has set a goal to have 15 per cent of vocations candidates of BAME heritage by September 2020.
There is a rich store of deep and diverse testimonies from Christians of BAME heritage that excellently model faithful whole-life discipleship. The Rev’d Dr Chigor Chike, Chair of AMEN’s Executive Committee, spoke of his Nigerian heritage: “We don’t make a distinction between what is religious and what is secular; we just know life and everything works together. . . Most families will then pass on that way of holding faith together to their children. I think the point isn’t so much that one way of doing it is better than the other, but that, in a society where there are diverse ways of doing things the C of E, which has a lot of different backgrounds in it, has the opportunity of benefiting from the insight from the backgrounds and a diversity of experience.” (https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/29-november/news/uk/amen-to-advise-renewal-and-reform-on-inclusion)
In Durham Diocese, several Incumbents and Clergy of BAME heritage are serving in diverse settings, including Rev’d Arun Arora, Vicar of St Nic’s, Durham – a city centre church; Rev’d Steve Muneza, Director of Mixed Mode Training at St John’s College, Cranmer Hall at University of Durham; Rev’d Remi Omole, Hospital Chaplain (Sunderland) and Diocesan BAME Adviser and Vocations Champion; and Rev’d Eileen Harrop, Entrepreneur Priest in Bishop Auckland and Priest in Charge of Gainford and Winston in plurality and AMEN clergy Executive Committee representative for the C of E Northern Province – in missional town transformation and rural ministry in tandem.
Bishop Paul said, “I am eager to explore how God’s purposes would be served more fully for all. Our BAME clergy and parishioners bring tremendous insights, gifts, histories, and experiences from their many countries of birth and from their professional and faith journeys”.
In the new year, Bishop Paul will be inviting all interested parties to meet to explore a Diocesan Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) group.
Article: Eileen Harrop