The Church of England has announced Nigeria’s Woyin Karowei Dorgu as the 13th bishop of Woolwich. Dorgu, the Church’s first black bishop for 20 years, will be consecrated at Southwark Cathedral on 17 March.
Dorgu was born and brought up in Nigeria. He trained as a medical doctor in Lagos before being ordained and was brought up in a Christian family but said as a teenager he rebelled against the gospel and left the church.
Speaking at a press conference at the Cathedral, Dorgu, said he intends to encourage BAME [black and minority ethnic] vocations and more participation in ministry.
He said one of his priorities as bishop would be to celebrate the racial diversity of the Woolwich area. Dorgu said, “I will celebrate the diversity in race, ability, gender, sexuality and class … Celebrating our differences is a gift.
“My appointment is a small step in the right direction. “Although I and Sentamu are the only black bishops, I would not describe the position as lonely. There is a lot of support and friendship.
“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.”
“I do not believe the C of E was institutionally racist, I prefer the term unconscious bias.
“If the church was racist, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The church is making an effort to be more inclusive.”
On the issue of sexuality which has divided the Church of England and the global Anglican Communion for two decades, Dorgu said, “I stand firmly behind the church’s official position.
“The church refuses to conduct same-sex church weddings on the traditional biblical grounds that marriage is between a man and a woman, and its insistence that gay clergy must be celibate.”