Church of England pledges £100 million to ‘a better future’ as links to slave trade discovered in report

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has said it is time for the church to address its “shameful past”

The Church of England has announced it is to set aside £100 million to “a programme of investment, research and engagement.” This comes following an investigation that found that the church’s investment fund was found to have had historical links to slavery.

The investigation found that Queen Anne’s Bounty, a predecessor to the fund of the Church Commissioners’ endowment, had links with transatlantic chattel slavery. The Church Commissioners have apologised for the links to this predecessor fund.

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A new oversight group within the Church of England will be formed during 2023 with significant membership from communities impacted by historic slavery. This group will work with the Church Commissioners on shaping and delivering the response, listening widely to ensure this work is done sensitively and with accountability.

According to the church, the £100 million will be put towards the following objectives:

  • Establishing a new impact investment fund to invest for a better and fairer future for all, particularly for communities affected by historic slavery. It is hoped this fund will grow over time, reinvesting returns to enable it to have a positive legacy that will exist in perpetuity, and with the potential for other institutions to participate, further enabling growth in the size and impact of the fund.
  • Growth in the impact fund will also enable grant funding for projects focused on improving opportunities for communities adversely impacted by historic slavery.
  • Further research, including into the Church Commissioners’ history, supporting dioceses, cathedrals and parishes to research and address their historic links with slavery, and sharing best practice with other organisations researching their slavery legacies. As an immediate action, Lambeth Palace Library is hosting an exhibition with items from its archives that have links to historic transatlantic chattel slavery.
  • The Church Commissioners will also continue to use its voice as a responsible investor to address and combat modern slavery and human rights violations, and to seek to address injustice and inequalities.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who is also Chair of the Church Commissioners, said: “The full report lays bare the links of the Church Commissioners’ predecessor fund with transatlantic chattel slavery. I am deeply sorry for these links. It is now time to take action to address our shameful past.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Picture: Getty.The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Picture: Getty.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Picture: Getty.

“Only by obeying the command in 1 John 1:6-7 and addressing our past transparently can we take the path that Jesus Christ calls us to walk and face our present and future with integrity. It is hard to do this at a time when resources in many parishes are so stretched, but by acting rightly we open ourselves to the blessing of God.”

The full report can be found on The Church of England website.

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