Kent

Church of England appoints first black female bishop

The Reverend Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin Image copyright Diocese of Canterbury
Image caption The Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin begins her new role in November

The Church of England has appointed its first black female bishop.

The Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons, has been named as the new Bishop of Dover.

Dr Hudson-Wilkin, who was born in Jamaica, said she aimed to ensure that "hope, love and justice remains at the heart of our changed lives together".

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was "absolutely delighted" by her appointment.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said she was "one of the most influential and effective ministers... through her long service as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons".

Dr Hudson-Wilkin, who is also a chaplain to the Queen, led prayers at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018.

Analysis

By BBC religion editor Martin Bashir

This is not only a significant moment in the career of the Reverend Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin, but also symbolically important for the Church of England given the poor level of diversity, particularly in senior positions. The number of clergy who identify as of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic has been historically very low but there has been a small increase in recent years.

For example, the number of people of BAME heritage who have been recommended for ordination in the Church of England in 2018 was 7.7% - up from 6.2% in the previous year. The most recent Church of England Ministry Statistics, for 2017, showed that 3.8% of stipendiary clergy who responded to the question identified as being from a BAME background, up from 3.1% at the end of 2012.

However, some 94.8% of senior staff - a category that includes bishops, archdeacons and cathedral clergy - described themselves as being "White British" in the most recent survey of 2017.

The appointment of the Reverend Dr Hudson-Wilkin is being rightly hailed as a significant breakthrough for black female clergy in the Church of England but, as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has admitted, there is much work to do.

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