Home office overturns visa decision on South Sudan ministers
THE Home Office has reversed its decision to reject visa applications from two Presbyterian ministers from South Sudan, the Revd Orozu Daky and his unnamed colleague, who are due to take part in conflict-resolution and mediation training next week, alongside nine of their colleagues, hosted by the Church of Scotland. The Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland, the Very Revd Dr John Chalmers, expressed his delight at the decision: “This is the response we were hoping for. . . Our course will go ahead as planned and these two participants [are] set to benefit from both advanced conflict resolution and an opportunity to experience a respite from the trauma of their everyday lives.”
New chief executive for Methodist Homes for the Aged
THE charity Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA) has appointed Sam Monaghan as its new chief executive. Mr Monaghan moved from Barnardo’s, where he was corporate director for children’s services. He had previously worked at Action for Children, and has a background in social services. MHA provides care and accommodation for more than 17,800 older people in the UK.
Former vicar jailed for child sex abuse
A FORMER vicar of Sedlescombe, east Sussex, Ifor Whittaker, formerly known as Colin Pritchard, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for repeatedly abusing a boy over a period of six years, starting when the boy was aged ten in 1987, and for conspiring (in this abuse) with another ex-priest, Roy Cotton, who died in 2006 and was never prosecuted. Mr Whittaker, who is 73, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Thursday of last week, and will serve a minimum of ten years.
Norwich Cathedral hosts vigil for missing student
NORWICH CATHEDRAL is to host a candle-lit vigil of prayer on Saturday for Sophie Smith, a missing 21-year-old student from Gorleston, in Norfolk, who was last seen in the town in the early hours of Boxing Day. The service, at 5 p.m., will be led by Canon Andy Bryant, with the Vicar of St Andrew’s, Gorleston, the Revd Brian Hall. Ms Smith, a second-year biomedicine student at the University of East Anglia, suffered from anxiety and depression. She was last seen on CCTV heading towards the seafront. Her mother, Lynn Shaw, is a volunteer welcomer at the cathedral. “The vigil will also be an opportunity to give thanks for all the professional agencies as well as members of the public who gave so much time to the search for Sophie,” the cathedral’s statement says. “The family want this service to be open to the public in gratitude for all those who assisted in the search.”
Billy Graham’s funeral to be live-streamed online
THE funeral of Dr Billy Graham, who died, aged 99, last week (News, 23 February), is to be live-streamed on his website at 5 p.m. (GMT) today, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association confirmed on Tuesday. “It was Billy Graham’s explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the gospel message he preached for over 60 years,” a statement says. “He personally approved the planning and details of the service.” Live-stream locations can be found at billygraham.org.uk, and the link to Funeral Live Streams.
Foundation calls on Commonwealth to tackle exploitation
THE Fairtrade Foundation is calling on the 52 governments of the Commonwealth to support living wages, help more women into positions of economic power, combat modern slavery, and develop ethical trade policies in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Fairtrade Fortnight began on Monday, and a Commonwealth Summit meeting is taking place in London next month. One third of countries exporting Fairtrade goods are part of the Commonwealth, the Foundation says. Its chief executive, Mike Gidney, said: “This is a unique moment for Commonwealth leaders and heads of state to come together and lead the world by ending the exploitation of some of the poorest workers, and make trade truly fair.”