Pet Shop Boys drummer becomes Lay Canon at Bury cathedral

Afrika Green standing at Bury St Edmunds cathedral in her burgundy robes

Afrika Green, drummer for the Pet Shop Boys and Becky Hill, has been installed as a Lay Canon at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Bury St Edmunds-based drummer, Afrika Green, who has worked with the likes of the Pet Shop Boys and Becky Hill, has become a Lay Canon.

The ceremony at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, on Sunday, November 21, saw six senior clergy and eight people in the community become Lay, Honorary and Ecumenical Canons.

Afrika, 31, was installed as a Lay Canon into the stall of writers.   

Lay Canons are members of the community who are not ordained clergymen or women but who are hoped to be something of a thinktank for the cathedral as they live and work in the community - which is exactly what Afrika has been doing.  

For the last year and a half, Afrika has been a trustee and active member of Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives since its inception and she hopes she will continue to make a difference within the cathedral.  

She said: “For me, it’s about representing diversity – I'm black, I’m young - perhaps that is different to the majority of people in the church. 

Afrika pictured in front of the alter with the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Afrika Green pictured with The Right Reverend Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“I want to be able to challenge them at times if I feel that’s necessary. Within the Church of England schools like King Edward's and Thurston, I can look at the curriculum and make some suggestions. 

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“Black history is taught during black history month, but perhaps there’s a way of incorporating that throughout the year.  

“I could also write for the cathedral newsletter which might way of making some suggestions and get people thinking,” she added. 

Afrika said she felt nervous about her new role to begin with but was pleasantly surprised to see how diverse the church is.  

Afrika proudly standing in the cathedral

Afrika hopes to make a difference within the cathedral and diversify the curriculum of local schools - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know what the community was like there and I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in. 

“I’m from a council estate in Bury and you look at the cathedral and it’s very lavish and has a solid community, but I was accepted. 

“The procession was predominately led by women which I thought was really unique. If we’ve got the gender balance, let's see if we can make it balanced in other ways – ages, race and other orientations.

"If the church reflects the community, more people will come.” 

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