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UK news in brief

04 November 2016


Overflowing: children recycle water bottles at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva where the World Council of Churches is installing water fountains in partnership with the Blue Communities project. The Blue Planet project is a joint initiative by the Council of Canadians and Canadian Community of Public Employees (CUPE) to promote the human right to water and ban bottled water at public events

Overflowing: children recycle water bottles at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva where the World Council of Churches is installing water fountains in pa...

Vicar given final warning by Bishop over Israel
THE Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, the Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, has been reprimanded by the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, for breaking a promise concerning engagement with the Israel-Palestine conflict. Dr Sizer attended an event at the House of Lords, hosted by the Palestinian Return Centre group, last week, and then posted a comment on social media about it. Both actions broke an agreement from last year with the diocese and the Board of Deputies of British Jews which followed a series of controversies which culminated in his linking online to an article that suggested that Israel had been behind 9/11 (News, 30 January 2015). In a statement, the Bishop said that Dr Sizer had already announced he would resign as Vicar next March, but that this did not render the agreement void. Any further breach would lead to his immediate dismissal. The Vice President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, said that Dr Sizer was a “repeat offender in the trafficking of anti-Semitic slurs” and should resign immediately.


Child abuse inquiry to hold first hearing in February
THE Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will hold its first public hearing in February, it has been announced. The inquiry, which now has its fourth chair, has been repeatedly delayed, and also criticised for the scope of its investigations. One of the strands it is committed to looking into is child abuse in the Church of England and the Church in Wales.


Church leaders pessimistic about university experience
A SURVEY of 118 church leaders has revealed that most believe that members of their congregations who go to university elsewhere are not likely to find another church. Just one in five expressed the view that the university experience had a positive effect on students’ faith. The poll, conducted by the Student Christian Movement (SCM), found that only 17 per cent of respondents believed that students moving away to study would find a new church. SCM’s national co-ordinator, Hilary Topp, said that the survey highlighted the need for a more joined-up approach to student ministry, and the importance of churches’ connecting their young people leaving for university with new faith communities.


Ban Christmas ads until December, says Lord Blunkett
CHRISTMAS advertising should be banned until 1 December so that the true Christian meaning of the festival is protected, the former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett has suggested in a letter in The Times last Friday. He regretted that Oxford Street had already put up its Christmas lights, and suggested a “moratorium on all commercial promotions of Christmas until December 1” would restore meaning to what was supposed to be a Christian festival.


Tribunal finds priest guilty of unbecoming conduct
A PRIEST in the diocese in Europe, the Revd Professor James Meredith Day, has been found guilty of conduct unbecoming a clerk in Holy Orders after a disciplinary tribunal under the Clergy Discipline Measure determined that he had stored “depraved and perverted” pornography on his computer, used a false identity to pursue sexual relations with men and a female prostitute, and assaulted his wife at their home on multiple occasions. Professor Day did not attend the hearing. In his absence, the allegation of unbecoming and inappropriate conduct was found proved in its entirety.


Teesside clergyman convicted of sexual abuse
THE Revd Granville Gibson, an 80-year-old retired archdeacon, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for indecently assaulting two men aged 18 and 26 while serving as a vicar in Teesside in the 1970s and 1980s. Mr Gibson, who was later made the Archdeacon of Auckland, was convicted of the charges in August (News, 12 August). The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, has apologised to his victims and begun an independent review of the case.


Arrest after death at Christian charity shop
A MAN from Salford as been arrested on suspicion of murder after a 36-year-old from Salford died after an incident in a Christian charity shop in Liverpool last week.


Correction: our headline about Merton College Girls’ Choir, “Girls’ choir is a first for Oxford” (News, 21 October), overlooked the existence of Frideswide Voices, a choir for girls aged between seven and 14, which has been singing peripatetically in Oxford college chapels since 2014.

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