CofE Chooses First Black Female Bishop

The Rev. Dr. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, has been named suffragan bishop of Dover, in the diocese of Canterbury.

In announcing the appointment of Jamaica-born Hudson-Wilkin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, praised her as one of the Church of England’s “most influential and effective ministers.”

She won plaudits also from John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, who said: “Rose is one of the warmest, kindest and most loving people I have ever met, so she will be sorely missed.” She led prayers at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018.

She succeeds the Rt. Rev. Trevor Willmott in a role supporting the Archbishop in the day-to-day running of the Diocese of Canterbury. Unlike the Episcopal Church, in the CofE and in most Anglican provinces the primate also serves as bishop of a diocese. The diocesan work of Archbishops of Canterbury is limited mostly to weekends when they are resident at the Old Palace near Canterbury Cathedral.

Hudson-Wilkin’s appointment has symbolic importance. There is a relatively low level of diversity in the CofE, especially in senior roles. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) clergy have increased by small numbers in recent years. But 94.8% of senior staff (including bishops) are “white British.”

In the words of Archbishop Welby, this leaves the CofE “with a lot of work to do.”

John Martin


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