Lancaster lecturer to advise Church of England on response to transatlantic chattel slave trade

Anderson Jeremiah

A Lancaster University senior lecturer will have a voice on how the Church of England funds its response to research on the transatlantic chattel slave trade.

The Church Commissioners for England has this week announced the Reverend Canon Dr Anderson Jeremiah will become a member of the Oversight Group that will advise the Board on how it establishes the new impact investment fund and grant funding programme being set up in response to its research findings of historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery.

Members were recruited through an open and transparent process, and include impact investment specialists, academics, and activists.

“The Church Commissioners published its research findings in January 2023 and expressed deep sorrow and shame over its predecessor fund’s links with transatlantic chattel slavery,” said the Right Reverend David Urquhart, the Chair of the sub-group of the Church Commissioners’ Board that is focussed on this work.

“In response, it has committed £100 million to a programme of impact investment, grants and further research, and I am pleased to welcome the wealth of expertise in this new oversight group which will give advice to the Board as we work together to create a better future for all.

“Transatlantic chattel slavery is an appalling evil, whose consequences still affect society today, and we have a responsibility to respond to our historic links. We take seriously our commitment to do that collaboratively, listening widely, with sensitivity and accountability.”

The Right Reverend Dr Rosemarie Mallett, the Bishop of Croydon, will chair the oversight group, and Geetha Tharmaratnam, the Chief Impact Investment Officer of the WHO Foundation, will be vice-chair.

The group has a wealth of experience and brings with it a great diversity of skills and backgrounds.

Dr Jeremiah, who holds a PhD from New College, the University of Edinburgh, will provide academic and theological expertise to the oversight group.

Having experienced overt and covert racism, at every sphere of social, academic and religious life, Dr Jeremiah strives to find ways to work for racial justice through his academic research and writing.

Over the past decade Dr Jeremiah has been researching on the intersections of Colonialism, British Empire, and the significant role of the Church of England in providing legitimacy to the colonial enterprise. Especially he is interested in the encounter between missionary activities and transatlantic slavery and various other dehumanising practices prevalent in that era.

Recently Dr Jeremiah played a critical role in the Archbishops’ Anti Racism Task Force and was one of the authors of the landmark report on race relations in the Church of England ‘From Lament to Action’ (2021).

He is also an active founding member of the Lancaster Black History Group and contributes to several other charities both locally and nationally.

Commenting on his appointment Dr Jeremiah said: “It is an incredible honour to be appointed to this oversight group. The primary objective will be to provide policy guidance and leadership to the Church Commissioners in delivering upon their commitment to invest £100 million towards building a fairer future for all.

“The investment by the Church Commissioners will have national and international impact, while also sowing seeds for a positive legacy among the communities affected by transatlantic chattel slavery. As a proud member of Lancaster University community, it will give me an opportunity to be an influential voice for fairness, equity, and social justice on the national stage.

“I am excited to work with some of the remarkable people, while shaping sustainable and just investment strategies for the Church Commissioners, especially in the areas of education, research, and community development.”

Dr Jeremiah is currently the Associate Dean for EDI and People in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University Professor Steve Bradley said: “Dr Jeremiah is a highly respected theologian and academic who has worked with the Church of England for some time. His appointment to this important and potentially high impact project is recognition of this expertise.”

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