Preferment of black and Asian clergy
From Canon Ivor Smith-Cameron
Sir, — In the General Synod in the 1980s, I campaigned for a Standing Commission on Black Anglican Concerns, as recommended in the Faith in the City report. The result was not a commission but a committee (CBAC, now CMEAC). Ever since that period, appointment of black and Asian clergy to senior posts has been a growing concern.
Vasantha Gnanadoss (Comment, 29 January) makes clear that the issue has not been effectively addressed. She argues persuasively that the House of Bishops could take remedial action without delay if it had the will.
Can we dare to hope that this call will now be heeded?
24 Holmewood Gardens
London SW2 3RS
From Mr Kenneth Obi
Sir, — Vasantha Gnanadoss refers to the House of Lords debate on the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill.
I notice that in the debate the Archbishop of Canterbury said that a photograph of the Bishops of Burnley and Stockport hugging each other after the Bishop of Burnley’s consecration was worth a thousand words. But later Baroness Berridge pointed out that another photograph, showing the bishops present at the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport, raised the issue of the lack of racial diversity.
We might say that this second photograph speaks a thousand words about racism in the Church of England.
18 Holcraft House
London SW11 2SG
From Dr K. J. Briggs
Sir, — “The senior clergy are failing to include the diversity and gifts of ethnic-minority priests.”
It could also be argued that the senior clergy are failing to include the diversity and gifts of excellent English parish priests, who have been commended by their parishioners, but continually passed over for preferment. Is this because they are too pale?
Chestnut House, Malmesbury
Wiltshire SN16 9JA
European Union and ‘noble ideals’
From Dr Max Gammon
Sir, — The EU was not sold to UK voters by “appeals to noble ideals” (Leader comment, 29 January), but on the basis of our economic advantage and with the guarantee of the preservation of our sovereignty.
In a television broadcast in January 1973, the Prime Minister, Edward Heath, told the British people: “There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.”
In fact, the British Foreign Office had produced a secret briefing note for Heath, warning that the Common Market would lead to “the ultimate creation of a European federal state, with a single currency. All the basic instruments of national economic management (fiscal, monetary, incomes and regional policies) would ultimately be handed over to the central federal authorities” (PRO/FCO 30/789).
Thirty years later, when confronted with this evidence, Heath admitted that he had lied to the British public.
Seventy years after delivery from Nazi tyranny, European countries are now subject to the more subtle but equally unyielding dictatorship of the EU. Those who have difficulty in recognising the EU as a dictatorship should consider the words of Jean-Claude Juncker, currently the President of the European Commission: “There can be no democratic choice against European Treaties” (Le Figaro, 28 January 2015).
Also, his words on British calls for a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty: “Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?” (Le Soir, 2 July 2007)
92 Southwark Park Road
London SE16 3RS
Charities’ chasing up of legacies
From Mr Adrian Beney
Sir, — You reported (News, 15 January) the apparently heartless pursuit of a potential legacy by the RSPCA in the case of a woman whose father had died, leaving a provision that, if his wife had predeceased him, then the RSPCA should receive a legacy. On the face of it, this looks like yet another example of charities’ behaving in an aggressive and uncaring way towards their supporters and potential supporters.
Yet the situation is rather more complex than this. If charities never changed their name or address, and if executors could always be relied upon to implement exactly the terms of the will that they are administering, then there would be less need for beneficiary charities to contact the administrators of estates. But, sadly, executorship in the UK is not that good.
Sometimes, those named as executors are bewildered by the complexity of the task, while there is a material conflict of interest for an executor who is less than honest, and who is him- or herself a beneficiary.
A polite and sensitive letter from the charity named in someone’s will can be a helpful part of the administrative process for an honest executor, especially if the charity name or address has changed since the will was written. In the case of a will whose executor is succumbing to the temptation to ignore the intended charitable legacy, then, since charity trustees have a fiduciary duty to guard the assets of the charity, it is a vital part of the process of recovering that which is, in law, the property of the charity.
Some years ago, the then Managing Director of Smee & Ford, the charity-legacy notification service named in your article, reported that one of the UK’s major charities had seen legacy income rise by more than a quarter when it started following them up in this way.
Far from being heartless and cruel, this is an important part of securing the income that charities need to carry out their work for the public good.
The Vicarage, Blockley
Gloucestershire GL56 9ES
Agreeing Easter brings its perils
From Dr Christopher Rigg
Sir, — According to your report (News, 22 January), the Archbishop of Canterbury reported that “the first attempt [to agree on the calendar date of Easter] was in the tenth century.”
To my knowledge, the first attempt to do so was in 664 at the Synod of Whitby, which was originally intended to establish one usage in the Kingdom of Northumbria, but was accepted by all the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
The Gaelic kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland which practised the Celtic usage based on the calculations of St Antolius of Laodicea (third century) were less inclined to accept the ruling. Some Gaelic abbeys accepted it in the century or so after Whitby — for instance, Iona.
In south-western England, the change was not accepted until the areas had been conquered by the Anglo-Saxons. The Celtic usage in Wales and in parts of Ireland fell into disuse only through the military force of the Normans.
Various passages in Bede’s History reflect his personal prejudice against those using the Celtic rite. The History also shows the venom between the proponents of the two systems, similar to the venom that seemed to be present between the parties in the recent worldwide meeting of Anglican Primates. Is agreement between Christians on matters of practice really necessary at such a price?
6721 SL Bennekom
Pastoral provision in Bournemouth
From Mr Philip Johanson
Sir, — While I would not disagree with the thrust of the letter from Canon Peter Huxham (8 January), one point he makes requires correcting. The Nightclub Chaplaincy is not based at St Peter’s Church. The work is an ecumenical town-wide initiative, supported financially in part by St Peter’s and the diocese, accountable to a trust that I chair, and on which the Town Centre Rector serves as a trustee.
Canon Huxham refers to a state of crisis over the past four years. That has primarily been at St Stephen’s. The Bishop of Southampton chaired a well-attended meeting there three years ago. He told those present that he intended to be in the parish regularly to help move things forward. I don’t think the congregation has seen him since that time.
Likewise, the Bishop asked me almost three years ago if he could come and talk with me to get my views on church life in Bournemouth and then to go out with the Nightclub Chaplain, to which I said yes. All I can say is that the Bishop’s diary must be overloaded years ahead.
There are people in the Town Centre who believe the agenda of the diocese is to close one of the churches, if not all of them, and therefore diocesan officials keep away. If there is any truth in that thought, then the diocese should be honest about it. If present trends continue, all three churches could well be empty in ten years’ time.
That is no reflection on the Team Rector: he can do only what he can do. The ball rests with the diocese, which has allowed the parish to be understaffed. It certainly doesn’t happen with diocesan staff. The appointment of a new Archdeacon of Winchester was announced before the previous one had retired, while parishes often have to wait a year to fill a vacancy. Likewise, the news of the appointment of a new Bishop of Basingstoke was announced less than three weeks after the previous Bishop had been installed in Bath & Wells.
One hopes that all the bishops and archdeacons in the diocese of Winchester are taking part in the recently launched national senior leadership training, which, we are told, is excellent and very beneficial to participants. Perhaps the clergy and people will see some of the fruits of that training in the months ahead in the diocese.
Former Chief Secretary, Church Army
10 Ditton Lodge
8 Stourwood Avenue
Dorset BH6 3PN
Naturist backside causes a stir
From the Revd Mark Smith
Sir, — Although I must confess that reading the Church Times can occasionally affect my blood pressure, or trigger mild indigestion, it has never caused me entirely to break off from my morning tea and toast. Until, that is, last Friday. The sight of a wobbly bottom staring back at me from the front cover was altogether startling. I know it’s good to grab the reader’s attention, but surely this was a little too much below the belt?
Cambridge CB2 3BU
From the Revd Geoffrey Squire
Sir, — A lady selling vegetables in Barnstaple market was reading her Church Times in the quiet period. She commented: “Well, well, well! I have got used to opening my Sunday paper and being confronted by pictures of boobs, but never did I think I would open my Church Times and be confronted with a picture of a bare bum.”
Referring to a long-departed vicar with rather puritanical views, she said: “If Father Godfrey saw that, he would have muttered ‘Smut, absolute smut,’ and thrown his Church Times in the fire.”
Little Cross, Goodleigh
Barnstaple, Devon EX32 7NR