David Hermitt has been reflecting on his time at General Synod after attending for the first time.
As a former CEO of a local Multi-Academy Trust and Chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel, David is a well-known figure in the Diocese of Chester, and stood for election to Diocesan Synod in February, but narrowly missed out.
Afterwards, David was invited to apply to serve in the House of Laity in response to the Archbishops' anti-racism report, From Lament to Action, which called for greater representation on the General Synod of people from Global Ethnic backgrounds.
David's maiden speech was in support of a proposal to increase the representation of the Anglican Communion on the Diocese of Canterbury's Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), the body responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
Reflecting afterward General Synod on representation in the Church of England, David said: "If we want a Church of England that is representative of the whole nation we need to take some positive action to try and move it in the right direction."
He gave thanks to Bishop Mark for inviting him to work within the Diocese of Chester, saying: "When he first arrived, he recognised that there weren't many people involved in the life of the Church in the diocese from a UKME background and he's actively encouraged me to get involved, which I'm really, really grateful for."
Speaking to the Chester Box podcast, David was asked if he had himself experienced racism in the Church, he said: "I've experienced racism in many many different guises, but within the Church of England it's perhaps a little bit more subtle; it's more in the assumptions that we make about people before we've met them and the assumptions we make about what type of person they might be."
David argues that because of these assumptions, "it's inevitable that there would be underrepresentation in so many different parts of the life of the Church of England because so many of those who are making decisions about the Church of England are White-British."
David said it was "lovely to be welcomed into Synod" and to get involved in some of the debates, not just on issues relating to race, but as a full voting member of the House of Laity.
He also explained why he has resigned as the Chair of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel and would step down in September: "For me to Chair [DSAP] would be inappropriate. That role should be independent and challenging and if I'm now within the Church of England on Synod, I cannot claim to be independent. Nevertheless, I am staying on the DSAP because the expertise and the experience I have is still valuable as we go along this journey of improvement."
Commenting on the fact that he is to step down from the role, Bishop Julie Conalty, diocesan lead bishop for safeguarding said: "I am hugely grateful for the way in which Dave has chaired DSAP and sought to hold Chester Diocese and Chester Cathedral to account. Dave has worked hard to ensure that DSAP provides scrutiny and independent oversight for our safeguarding work and has played a major role in establishing a better safeguarding culture."
He is expected to serve on General Synod until 2026.