VOL. NO: 30  DATE:
 
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AFRICAN ECHO NEWS

DR. JOHN SENTAMU-THE AFRICAN ARCHBISHOP FOR YORK

John Sentamu became Britain's first black archbishop when he took up his post in York. John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, 56, was born near Kampala, in Uganda, in 1949.

The sixth of 13 children, he was so small that the local bishop was called in to baptise him immediately.
But he survived his birth, a sickly childhood, and a famine. He studied law at Makerere University and then worked as a barrister, before becoming a judge in the Uganda High Court. In 1974, his criticism of the Amin regime for its human rights violations led to his arrest and departure from Uganda for the UK.

Route to faith
He studied theology at Cambridge with a view to returning home after his studies. But when his friend, the Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum, was murdered he vowed to take his place, and was ordained in 1979.

Archbishop Sentamu, who has two grown-up children with wife Margaret, served in parishes in Cambridge and London. During his 13 years as vicar of Holy Trinity Church, in Tulse Hill, he raised £1.6m to restore the church and its organ, and increased the congregation 10-fold. From 1986 to 1992 he served on the Archbishop's Commission for Urban Priority Areas and he was chairman of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns between 1990 and 1999. In London, he had special responsibility for evangelism, minority ethnic Anglican concerns, police and community relations, and social justice. As Bishop of Birmingham (Bishop for Birmingham as he was often called), he was one of only two senior UK Anglican bishops from ethnic minorities, alongside Bishop of Rochester the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali. Archbishop Sentamu was an adviser to the inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder, and chaired the inquiry which criticised police methods following the stabbing of Damilola Taylor. He has often attacked the Church of England for being institutionally racist. But he has also played down his reputation as an anti-racist campaigner saying: "Yes definitely I am black but what is important is that I have got a living faith in God.

"I would like people to share my life, my faith, my hope. ”That, to me, is the most important." He has indicated that he would be happy to ordain women bishops if the Church was to change its rules, and has also criticised the way some members of the Church have spoken about gay people. In an interview a week before his enthronement he, among other things, called for a rediscovery of English pride and cultural identity, warning that zeal for multiculturalism had sometimes "seemed to imply, wrongly for me, 'let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains'."(The Times amongst others) Just as at Birmingham, Sentamu has expressed a desire to be known informally as Archbishop for York (rather than of).


 

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