The Queen of England has approved the appointment of a Nigerian-born medical doctor as the first black Bishop of the Church of England. The government of the UK’s website said the new Bishop, the Reverend Prebendary Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu was announced on Tuesday.
The Vicar of St John the Evangelist Upper Holloway, in the Diocese of London, he will take charge of the Suffragan See of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark.
Dorgu is aged 58, a General Practitioner, studied at the London Bible College for his BA, and studied for his ordination at Oak Hill Theological College from 1993 to 1995 and also holds an MA in missiology. He was Curate at St Mark’s Tollington in London Diocese from 1995 to 1998, before moving to be Curate at Upper Holloway in the same diocese until 2000.
From 2000 to 2012 he was Team Vicar at Upper Holloway before becoming Vicar in 2012 and from 2016 he has been Prebendary at St Paul’s Cathedral. He is married to Mosun, a doctor.
She is a consultant child psychiatrist who works for the NHS and they have 2 grown-up children. His interests include reading, cycling, travelling, cooking for guests and he is a keen Arsenal FC supporter.
According to All Africa, the Church of England got its first black bishop for 20 years in a move that significantly increases its handful of minority ethnic clergy in senior leadership positions. The church announced that Woyin Karowei Dorgu, the 13th bishop of Woolwich, would be consecrated at Southwark Cathedral on 17 March, 2017.
Dorgu was born and brought up in Nigeria, and ordained in the UK. Woolwich, in south-east London, has a significant Nigerian population, many of whom worship in black-majority Pentecostal churches rather than the C of E.
At a press conference at Southwark Cathedral, Dorgu said one of his priorities as bishop would be to celebrate the racial diversity of the Woolwich area. He said he intended to “encourage BAME [black and minority ethnic] vocations and more participation in ministry”.
“I will celebrate the diversity in race, ability, gender, sexuality and class … Celebrating our differences is a gift,” he added. The only other black bishop in the Church of England is John Sentamu, now archbishop of York – second in the church hierarchy – who was consecrated as bishop of Stepney 20 years ago. There are three BAME archdeacons and one dean. Dorguhad said his appointment was “a small step in the right direction”.
“Quite a lot of Nigerian Christians in the Woolwich area] are from an Anglican background. 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.”
Although he and Sentamu were the only black bishops, Dorgu said: “I would not describe the position as lonely. There is a lot of support and friendship.” On the issue of sexuality, which has divided the Church of England and the global Anglican communion for two decades, Dorgu said he stood 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.
Dorgu – known to some of his congregation as Brother K – trained as a medical doctor in Lagos before being ordained. He was brought up in a Christian family but said as a teenager he rebelled against the gospel and left the church.
After encountering Christian students at university, he decided to “accept Jesus as my personal saviour and Lord in my early 20s”.
He came to the UK in 1987 and was ordained as a priest in 1996. He described himself as an evangelical but added: “I will fly no party colours … I will promote unity, respect, integrity and collaboration among different traditions.”
Since his ordination, he has been a minister in London parishes. Dorgu was born in June 1958 in Burutu, Nigeria. From 1979 to 1985, he studied at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, graduating with Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degrees.