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UK news in brief

12 December 2014

Forty years: current and past students and staff of the Southern Theological  Education and Training Scheme celebrate its 40th anniversary in St Thomas's Church, Salisbury, last month

Forty years: current and past students and staff of the Southern Theological  Education and Training Scheme celebrate its 40th anniversary in S...

Priest backs colleague over Father Christmas

A CHURCH of England priest has offered his support to a Roman Catholic priest who has come under fire for telling schoolchildren that Father Christmas did not exist. Fr Dennis Higgins, from St Anne's RC Church in Buxton, Derbyshire, made the remark last month, which led one parent to describe him as "plain mean" to the local paper. The Revd Lee Townend, however, who was assistant curate of Buxton with Burbage and King Sterndale from 1998 to 2001, wrote on Facebook that Fr Higgins was a "thoroughly decent man", and condemned those trying to undermine his ministry.

Buy from charity shops this Christmas, says Archbishop

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has urged poorer families to buy presents from charity shops this Christmas rather than feel pressured into spending too much money. Writing in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, Archbishop Welby said that people could also demonstrate their care by offers of babysitting, volunteering in the community, or inviting the elderly to dinner, not just by buying presents. "In order to have a great Christmas, we need not run up crippling debts," he wrote.

Immigration officers investigated after trial collapses

IMMIGRATION officers who gave evidence against a priest accused of arranging hundreds of sham marriages are being investigated. The trial of the Revd Nathan Ntege, a priest in Thornton Heath, south London, collapsed in October after the judge decided immigration officers had lied on oath and manipulated evidence (News, 31 October). The Independent Police Complaints Commission has said that it will look into the actions of officers, three of whom have been suspended.

Quakers register under new Act

THE Quakers have decided to register themselves formally as a non-party campaigner under the Lobbying Act, even though they have "reservations" about the Act itself, which tightens regulations on charities' lobbying politicians. The clerk of the trustees of the Quakers in Britain, Jennifer Barraclough, said that registering would not stop the Quakers from speaking the truth and seeking to influence the powerful.

University calls for balanced funding for research

LIVERPOOL Hope University, which was founded in the 1990s partly through the effort of the former Bishop of Liverpool David Sheppard has launched a campaign for Government research funding to be allocated more widely. In 2012 to 2013, 31 universities out of a total of 162 received three-quarters of the total money given out. Liverpool Hope's campaign Growth by Research wants the next round of funding to go to good researchers wherever they are, not just at the historically successful institutions.

Students ask for inclusion in C of E vision

THE Student Christian Mission has challenged the Church of England to incorporate student voices within its vision. SCM's National Co-ordinator, Hilary Topp, issued the challenge during the recent Westminster Faith Debates. In a 2013 study by researchers from the University of Durham it was stated that only a minority of Christian students are involved with a church or student group during term-time.

Leaving EU 'deeply regressive', says former Primate

THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has warned of the danger of leaving the European Union. In comments made to the Church of Ireland Gazette, Lord Williams described the prospect of withdrawal as "deeply regressive". He cited concern for aid agencies and the fear of over-reliance on financial services as factors motivating his stance.

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