Nigeria-born Woyin Karowei Dorgu has been appointed the first black bishop for 20 years by the Church of England. He is to be the 13th bishop of Woolwich and will be consecrated at Southwark Cathedral on 17 March.
Dorgu was born and brought up in Nigeria, and ordained in the UK. Woolwich, in south-east London, has a significant Nigerian population, many of whom worship in black-majority Pentecostal churches rather than the C of E.
At a press conference at Southwark Cathedral, Dorgu said one of his priorities as bishop would be to celebrate the racial diversity of the Woolwich area. He said he intended to “encourage BAME [black and minority ethnic] vocations and more participation in ministry”.
“I will celebrate the diversity in race, ability, gender, sexuality and class … Celebrating our differences is a gift,” he added.
The only other black bishop in the Church of England is John Sentamu, now archbishop of York – second in the church hierarchy – who was consecrated as bishop of Stepney 20 years ago. There are three BAME archdeacons and one dean.
Dorgu said his appointment was “a small step in the right direction”, adding: “Quite a lot of Nigerian Christians [in the Woolwich area] are from an Anglican background. I hope my appointment will be a model. Seeing someone from a similar background could be a catalyst for dialogue between the C of E and black majority churches and Nigerians looking for a spiritual home.”