Church of England Appoints First Black Female Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin

Rose Hudson-Wilkin is introduced as the new bishop at St George’s school in Broadstairs, Kent.
Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

The Church of England’s first black female bishop has been appointed by Downing Street.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, was announced as the new bishop of Dover.

Hudson-Wilkin, who was born in Jamaica, was introduced by Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, at St George’s C of E school in Broadstairs, Kent. He described her appointment as “groundbreaking and historic” and said it was one of the most exciting appointments the church had made for a long time.

The new bishop and Welby spent 40 minutes answering questions from pupils. Hudson-Wilkin said she saw herself as “pretty ordinary – not necessarily ‘the black priest’ – but a priest with the good fortune to be black”.

Her appointment as bishop felt like a miracle, she said. Since the age of 14 she had an “overwhelming sense of being called to ministry”, at a time when women were barred from the priesthood.

Asked what her favourite song was, she launched into an impressive rendition of Labi Siffre’s (Something Inside) So Strong.

Hudson-Wilkin was raised in Montego Bay by her father and aunt after her mother left to work in the UK. In 1982, Hudson-Wilkin left Jamaica to train at the Church Army college in the West Midlands. She was ordained as a priest in 1994, the first year the C of E allowed female clergy.

She later became chaplain to the Commons speaker and a chaplain to the Queen.

Hudson-Wilkin has urged the C of E to appoint more black and minority ethnic clergy and officials. In 2015 she said: “The church has to wake up. In the same way it has agonised over women, and has eventually seen that it’s right for women to be in leadership within the church, it needs to put the same amount of work when it comes to minority ethnic people … It has got to right this wrong.”

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood