By Anne Mugisa
The Church of England on Friday announced it had appointed its first-ever black archbishop, naming Ugandan-born Bishop John Sentamu to the Churchâ€™s second-most important position.
Sentamu, previously Bishop of Birmingham, has taken over as Archbishop of York, the Church said in a statement.
The 56-year-old, who fled Uganda for England in 1974 after becoming an outspoken critic of Idi Aminâ€™s regime, worked at a series of London parishes before becoming Bishop of Stepney, also in London, then Bishop of Birmingham in 2002.
Archbishop Sentamu said in an interview with Sky Television yesterday that he would work with the Archbishop of Canterbury to rebuild the Church of England as a beacon of liberty and salvation.
â€œMy mission is the renewal of the Church, seek the Kingdom of God, search for the truth and salvation for all people.
â€œThe Church of England has a responsibility for everybody whether they go to church or not... we just need to reconnect. We are in a situation where we are prosperous, but not all of us are happy...,â€ he added.
York, an early centre of Christianity in the north of England, is one of two so-called archdioceses in the Church of England, which have particular importance and power, due largely to their history.
As archbishop, Sentamu, whose cathedral is the world-famous Gothic building of York Minster, is the second-most important figure in the Church of England after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams.
Although Williams is also head of the Anglican Church, which includes the Church of England and its associated bodies worldwide, the Archbishop of York is not automatically second in the global hierarchy.
Sentamu, who was a prominent campaigner on gun crime while in Birmingham, said in a statement he hoped to help the Church â€œreconnect imaginatively with England.â€
â€œIt is important that the Church of Englandâ€™s voice is heard locally, nationally and internationally, standing up for justice, bringing good news to the poor, healing to the broken-hearted, setting at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaiming the death of Christ and his resurrection until he comes again,â€ he said.
Sentamu, the sixth of 13 children from a family of renowned evangelists, was previously an adviser to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, which investigated racism in Londonâ€™s metropolitan police. His siblings include Pastor Robert Kayanja of Miracle Centre Rubaga and Bishop David Makumbi.
He replaces Dr. David Hope, who stood down as Archbishop of York in February to become a humble Vicar of Ilkley, a parish in Yorkshire, northern UK.