Church of England Appoints new Racial Justice Director

Published: Monday April 29, 2024

A picture of Revd Dr. Evie Vernon OBrien. She is smiling and wearing clerical clothing.

The Revd Dr Evie Vernon O’Brien has been appointed as the Racial Justice Director for the Church of England in the West Midlands.

Evie will take up her role in July working with six dioceses – Birmingham, Coventry, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, and Worcester. It is the first collaborative project of its kind in the Church of England. She will lead a team of people who will support each diocese to promote racial justice more effectively and examine our culture, practices and policies to ensure fundamental principles of equality, diversity and inclusion run through everything we do, both in our worshipping communities and in our workplaces.

Evie said, “Jesus calls his followers to join him in preaching the good news to the poor, and in bringing liberation to the oppressed. I believe that the coming together of these six dioceses to set up a unit to concentrate on racial justice is a powerful manifestation of our commitment to our mission as Jesus’ disciples.”

Since 2021 and the launch of From Lament to Action, conversations developed and networks grew across the West Midlands region about how, together, we might respond and more importantly act to confront racism in our Church and in wider society. These conversations led to a joint bid to the national Church for funds, recognising that by collaborating across the region, we could develop a team able to effect change in a way that none of us could create alone.

Notes to Editors

Rachele Evelyn (Evie) Vernon O’Brien was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She was ordained as a deaconess in the Church in the Province of the West Indies in 1980. After working in inner city parishes in Kingston (including Trench Town of Bob Marley fame), she became assistant chaplain at the Kingston Region hospital. She later worked with the ecumenical Caribbean Conference of Churches, the Association of Development Agencies and the Caribbean Voluntary Counselling and Testing programme. She went on to teach at the United Theological College of the West Indies, where she facilitated mainstreaming HIV teaching for all theological students.  On moving to the UK, she was appointed Director of the Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies and then went on to be Theological Adviser at USPG, an Anglican mission agency. She also worked with CAPS, Catholic AIDS Prevention and Support. She continues to be involved in cross-cultural justice issues. She has been a vice-chair of Inclusive Church since July 2023.

Evie has a son and daughter-in-law living in the US. She is a poet and loves to knit.



The word Leadership spelt out, with Committed to Transformation written underneath.




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