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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
First senior black bishop appointed
St Phillips Cathedral in Birmingham
St Phillips Cathedral will be home to the new bishop
The UK's first senior black Anglican bishop has been appointed to head the Church of England in Birmingham.

Right Reverend John Sentamu has been made the new Bishop of Birmingham following an announcement made by Downing Street on Tuesday.

Bishop Sentamu, who is the suffragan Bishop of Stepney, east London, replaces Right Reverend Mark Santer who will retire.

Ugandan-born Bishop Sentamu becomes the first black bishop in the UK to take charge of an Anglican diocese.

Bishop Sentamu
Bishop Sentamu, Birmingham "great city"

Following his appointment the new bishop told BBC WM he would to back the ambitions of the people of Birmingham and the region.

He played down his reputation as an anti-racist campaigner.

"Yes definitely I am black but what is important is that I have got a living faith in God," he said.

"I would like people to share my life, my faith, my hope.

"That, to me, is the most important.

"The first thing is to get to know all the clergy, the local people and to get involved in civic life.

"To make sure that whatever this great city and region are campaigning for, like becoming the European city of culture, that I lend my support."

The bishop, born in 1949, is a high-profile campaigner for racial equality and has often attacked the Church of England for being institutionally racist.

Stopped by police

In 1997 he became an advisor to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and was instrumental in the damning report, which branded the Metropolitan Police "institutionally racist".

In January 2000 the bishop said he had been stopped and searched by police officers while driving near St Paul's Cathedral.

A scarf he was wearing was covering his dog collar.

Bishop Sentamu left Uganda as Idi Amin began his reign of terror.

He was ordained in 1979 after studying at Cambridge University and in 1983 became a vicar in Tulse Hill, London.

Diverse city

Bishop Santer, 64, stood down in May after 15 years in the post.

Birmingham is one of the most diverse cities in the UK, with areas of poverty and affluence side-by-side.

There are many areas in the city where non-Christian religions are the majority.

The new Bishop of Birmingham will be introduced to the city by the Bishop of Aston, the Right Reverend John Austin, at St John's Church of England School, Sparkhill, at a service on Tuesday.

Bishop Sentamu is not the first from an ethnic minority to head a diocese.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, is of Pakistani origin.

The Right Reverend Wilfred Wood, Bishop of Croydon in the Southwark Diocese, is the only other black suffragan bishop in the UK.


Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online
See also:

11 Mar 02 | England
25 Sep 01 | England
07 Jul 01 | UK
18 Sep 00 | UK Politics
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