Naomi Gyane has been announced as the new Chancellor of the Diocese of Leicester, and at 35, is the youngest Diocesan Chancellor currently serving in the Church of England.
She will be officially sworn in by the Right Reverend Saju Muthalaly on 2 August.
“We are delighted that Naomi will be joining us as Diocesan Chancellor and heartily welcome the expertise and energy she will bring to the position. It is also a privilege to be the first diocese in England to have a woman of African-Caribbean heritage in the role of Chancellor”, said Bishop Saju.
The Diocesan Chancellor acts as the independent Judge of the Diocesan Consistory Court, overseeing legal issues relating to the use of and reordering of church buildings and land, applications for grave reservations, exhumations and other legal matters. In each diocese they work closely with the Diocesan Registry, local archdeacons and the Diocesan Advisory Committee.
“I always wanted to be a judge, and what interests me about ecclesiastical law is that it covers such a breadth of areas”, Naomi explains. As to why she felt called to work in Leicester, she says: “I really respect the missional work in Leicester and the Diocese’s objective to engage everyone in the life and mission of the Church. Having met a few people working for the Diocese, it became a real honour to say that I could be a part of that”.
Naomi describes her faith as a “cornerstone” in her life: “Faith was a cornerstone for me to even become a Barrister because I've always been passionate about speaking for those who perhaps couldn't speak up for themselves either because they didn't have the words to do it, or they didn't have the confidence to say that what happened to them was wrong.”
“God calls us to speak up for the needy, the poor, those who can't speak for themselves. So that’s always been a real driving force in how I've approached all aspects of my work.”
“As I have become more senior as a Barrister, I also appreciate more the importance of not relying on my own understanding, but asking the Lord for wisdom. I think that will allow me to be humble, to listen to people and respect their thoughts and feelings before making a decision, but also to speak out when I see that something is wrong – in a way that, I hope, is still with love.”
Although Naomi’s remit mainly covers the law surrounding the building and fabric of churches, she believes “you have to approach it in a way that still means that the church is there for all and that everyone feels that they can be involved in their local churches. So, it’s really important that serving our communities is a guiding factor in my decision-making”.
Naomi is a barrister with Pump Court Chambers, who specialises in employment law. She was called to the Bar in 2010 and that year won City Law School’s Best Young Advocate Award. Before being appointed to the role of Chancellor in Leicester, she served as Deputy Chancellor in the Diocese of St Edmunsbury and Ipswich. She will remain in this role, where she is also a Lay Canon.
In her spare time, Naomi has, over the years, volunteered at her local food bank, taught in youth ministry, and provided pro bono legal advice at the Mary Ward Legal Centre. She is also passionate about providing mentorship to young adults, particularly those within the African-Caribbean community that wish to build a career in law.