2023 Conference I have a Dream: Deconstructing Racism in the Church


High Leigh Conference Centre

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Jul 17 - 19 2023


All Day

2023 Conference I have a Dream: Deconstructing Racism in the Church


‘In a world where people are excluded because of their ethnic background, their sexual orientation, their gender…I believe that we are called to show God’s love for all people. It is a calling that Christian people have always struggled with, but we can and should be better at making God’s love a reality in the Church – overcoming the systemic discrimination that exists.’

(Sonia Hicks, Chair, 2023 Modern Church Conference)

In February 2020 the Archbishop of Canterbury apologised for the racism experienced by black and minority ethnic people in the Church of England since the arrival of the Windrush Generation. He also said that there is ‘no doubt’ that the Church of England is still ‘deeply institutionally racist’. This Modern Church conference will explore the historical context of colonialism and its impact on our belief systems; contemporary challenges to power imbalances in theology and practice; representation of diversity in the structures of our life and faith; creative approaches to vocations, doing theology, and performing liturgy.


The Revd Yin-An Chen, Curate in Lichfield Diocese, author of ‘Toward a Micro-Political Theology’

Assistant Curate at St Oswald’s Church, Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield and Research Associate at the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide. He is also Lecturer in Theology and Anglicanism at the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan. Before training at Westcott House Cambridge, he completed research degrees in theology at the Universities of Kent and Durham. Before studying theology in the UK, he studied anthropology, sociology and critical cultural theory in Taiwan.

He is interested in queer theology, postcolonial theology, liberation theologies, and postmodern philosophy. He has recently published his first monograph, entitled Toward a Micro-Political Theology: A Dialogue between Michel Foucault and Liberation Theologies (2022, Pickwick Publications).

The Very Revd Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral

Rogers Govender became Dean of Manchester in 2006. He came with his family to the UK in 2002 to serve in a parish in South Manchester, following ministry in the Dioceses of Durban and Natal in South Africa. Rogers is a fifth generation South African of South Indian ancestry as well as a British citizen. As Dean of Manchester, he has learnt about how a city and diocese operate and the importance of networks and partnership working to achieve the purposes of God in mission, ministry and outreach to the community. He has also learnt much about project development and fundraising, and applying faith and realism to vision building and delivery of a Cathedral for the 21st century, seeking to make the Cathedral a hospitable place for all people. Rogers’ interests include cooking, walking, fishing and travelling. Rogers was elected to General Synod as a Proctor Dean in 2015, and is also a Synod-appointed member of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. He was elected to the AEC Executive in June 2016.

The Rt Revd Rosemarie Mallet, Bishop of Croydon

The Right Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett was born in Barbados but has lived much of her life in the UK. She has worked in West and East Africa as well as back in the Caribbean as an academic and researcher. She returned to the UK to study for her PhD. After working as an academic sociologist for twelve years, she trained for ordained ministry. Since 2005, she has served in various roles in the Diocese of Southwark, based in south London and East Surrey, as parish priest, diocesan director, and archdeacon, and now serves as the bishop of Croydon.

Rosemarie is Chair of the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education, and a Trustee of several other diocesan and national para-church organisations, including Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). From 2010 to 2021, she served on the General Synod of the Church of England, was one of the Synod Chairs for 5 years, and on several Archbishop’s Council committees, including the Women in the Episcopate Steering Committee and the Pastoral Advisory Group. Rosemarie is a Fellow of the Westminster Abbey Institute and a Visiting Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge.

The Revd Dr Raj Patta, Methodist/Lutheran, working in Stockport, author of ‘Dalitekklesia’

Raj Bharat Patta celebrates his identity in multiple belongings, which include: Dalit, Christian, Asian, (Im)migrant, theology, ministry, Lutheran, Methodist, India, Britain, church, academy, postcolonial, public sphere, husband, father and friend. Though a Lutheran minister from India, he currently serves as a recognised and regarded minister of the Methodist Church in Britain at the United Stockport Circuit. He completed his PhD from the University of Manchester. His publications include, Dalitekklesia (CWM/ISPCK: 2020) and A violent sight on a Silent night: Missiological Discourses in the context of violence against Christians (ISPCK: 2008). His forthcoming book, Subaltern Public Theology: Dalits and the Indian Public Square (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) will be released soon.

Canon Dr Sanjee Perera, Former Archbishops’ Advisor on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns for the CofE

Canon Dr. Sanjee Perera is a Cognitive Psychologist and Ecclesiologist and is currently on sabbatical with Virginia Theological Seminary as the 2023 Dean’s scholar. Her Doctoral thesis was on Ethno-social Identity, Moral judgement and Decision making in Societies experiencing Ethnic conflict and her most recent large scale research project was the Minority Anglicanism Project at the University of Birmingham, investigating how the Church of England navigates race, belonging and inclusion and the cognitive impact of racialised ecclesial spaces on marginalised peoples. She was most recently the Archbishops’ Adviser for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns in the Church of England and has spent the last couple of decades in academia teaching and researching in Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy, Theology & Religion.

At present she serves as an Honorary Canon of Liverpool Cathedral in her home diocese. She also serves as an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Durham, Research Fellow at William Temple Foundation, Associate Fellow at the Open University School of Law, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, at Coventry University, and Honorary Research Fellow in Theology and Religious Studies, at the University of Chester and Dean’s scholar at Virginia Theological Seminary. She is also a Trustee and Company Director at ‘World friendship’, BIAPT & SPCK.

She is an avid gardener, choral singer, and a church crawler with a passion for stained glass and lives in community with ordinands at Queens foundation.

The Revd Dr Evie Vernon, Hon Assistant Curate, St Mildred’s Croydon, Trustee of Inclusive Church, Former Theological Advisor to USPG

The Rev’d Dr Rachele (Evie) Vernon O’Brien is a Nannyish (Jamaican womanist theologian with a revolutionary bent) currently living in the UK.

She is an educator and has worked with Caribbean and UK international organisations focused on justice issues related especially to gender, ethnicity and HIV.

More details and tickets here.

12.30 Lunch
14.00 Session 1 Speaker: Sonia Hicks (Conference Chair); Jonathan Draper (Conference Secretary)



15.30 Tea/coffee
16.00 Session 2 Speaker: Canon Dr Sanjee Perera
17.30 (end session 2)
18.00 Bar/dinner
19.45 Session 3 Young Theologians Panel


21.00 Night prayer
Time TUESDAY Notes
08.00 Morning Prayer
08.15 Breakfast
09.30 Session 4 Speaker: The Revd Yin-An Chen



11.00 Coffee/tea
11.30 Session 5 Speaker: The Very Revd Rogers Govender



13.00 lunch
14.00 Session 6 Speaker: The Revd Dr Evie Vernon
15.30 Tea/coffee
16.00 Session 7

Modern Church AGM / Free Time




17.30 End session 7
18.00 Bar/dinner
19.45 Session 8 Speaker; Revd Dr Raj Patta
21.00 Night prayer
08.00 Morning prayer
08.15 Breakfast
09.15 Session 9

Conference Eucharist

10.30 Coffee/tea
11.00 Session 10 Speaker: The Rt Revd Rosemarie Mallet
12.30 Session 11


Q&A with speakers
13.15 Lunch

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