The Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford, said some parishes in his diocese were 95% Muslim but that this should not be seen as “a problem”.
“This is a fantastic opportunity,” he told the General Synod, the Church of England’s national assembly, in York.
“It is a challenge, yes, but it’s an opportunity to rethink what it means to be a Christian community. We often ask Muslims to learn what it is to be a Muslim as a minority culture.
“Maybe we could benefit from learning some of the same lessons in some of our cities.”
His comments came as Church leaders at the assembly were warned that Britain’s increasingly diverse society could undermine the position of the Church of England as the “established” faith of the nation.
In some communities, Anglicans have become “beleaguered” because Christians are so outnumbered by members of other faiths, according to a report presented to the Synod yesterday.
However, synod members recognised that the Church needed to adapt to Britain’s increasingly diverse society and backed moves to recruit more ethnic minority candidates to leaderships positions such as bishops.
They voted overwhelmingly in favour of a plan to tackle the Church’s “pale, male and stale” image by using methods that have been described as “favouritism” and “positive discrimination”.
The move came after a report by the Venerable Daniel Kajumba, Archdeacon of Reigate, showed only 1.1% of bishops, archdeacons and cathedral deans posts are filled by ethnic minority candidates.
The four ethnic minority clergy in these roles are Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, the Rt Rev David Hamid, Suffragan Bishop of Europe, The Very Rev Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral, and himself in his post as Archdeacon of Reigate, he said.
This was in spite of congregations of up to 90% ethnic minorities in inner cities, and a growing proportion of ethnic minority worshippers in rural and suburban areas.