Dr John Sentamu to succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Chair of Christian Aid

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, the former Archbishop of York, will be the next Chair of the board of international development agency Christian Aid.

Dr Sentamu – who has been outspoken on issues of poverty and justice in the UK and globally for many years – served as the Archbishop of York from 2005 until 2020. He was created by Her Majesty the Queen, Baron of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and Masooli in the Republic of Uganda. He is a member of the UK Parliament, in the House of Lords.

Born in Kampala, Uganda, Dr Sentamu will be the first person of African descent to take up the position of Chair in Christian Aid’s 75-year history.

Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and current Chair, will stand down at Christian Aid’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in November, having served two full terms of office.

Announcing the appointment today, Christian Aid’s CEO Amanda Khozi Mukwashi said: “This is wonderful news for Christian Aid. Dr Sentamu brings with him a passion and energy for global justice, a deep love of the Church and a profound theological understanding that will be able to speak into the crises of climate change, Covid, conflict and debt that are affecting the world’s poorest communities. We look forward to welcoming him to the Christian Aid family.

“I want to express my immense gratitude to Dr Williams for his friendship and leadership. He has been an incredible Chair, bringing his inimitable wisdom, grace and prophetic voice to support Christian Aid’s work and the communities we serve. We will miss him.”

Commenting on the appointment, Dr Williams said: “It has been a profound privilege to serve as Chair of this wonderful organisation for the past eight years. Through that time, we have appointed an excellent new CEO, launched a new global strategy and weathered the storms of a global pandemic, while continuing to stand together with the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities.

“Christian Aid’s work is far from being done, and the next few years will mean we must stand even more firmly for the dignity, equality and justice of all, needing the support of the Church and the British public more than ever, in light of cuts to aid and increasing national self-interest.

“I am delighted to be handing over the reins to Dr Sentamu at this pivotal time in the organisation’s history and convinced there are few people who will be able to lead and speak out with the moral voice that is needed for such a time as this. I will continue to support both him and the organisation in the ongoing fight to end global poverty.”

Commenting on his appointment, Dr Sentamu said: “It is a great surprise and a delight to be invited to be a trustee and to chair the Board of Christian Aid. My first involvement with Christian Aid was in 1980, during Christian Aid Week, when, as an Assistant Curate at St Andrew, Ham Common, and Prison Chaplain at Latchmere House Remand Centre, I knocked on doors and left Christian Aid envelopes. The staggering response from the long street where I lived, as well as the prison officers, convinced me that the appeal for ‘Life Before Death’ spoke to the generous hearts of my neighbours.

“In 2004 I visited Herat Province, in Western Afghanistan, to see and encourage Christian Aid workers there. They blew my mind and I rejoiced greatly to discover that they had favour with all the people; and that Christian Aid workers had remained there for well over 25 years!

“To chair the Christian Aid Board, which is deeply committed to eradicating injustice, disadvantage, increasing mutual accountability and its prophetic voice in addressing issues of poverty and power, is a great delight and challenge for me. Please pray for me.”

Dr Sentamu’s appointment follows a thorough global external search led by Jennifer Cormack – chair of the organisation’s nominations committee, which ended in formal approval by Christian Aid’s board this week. He will formally be welcomed as Chair by Christian Aid’s sponsoring church denominational representatives in November 2021.