EU to grant £1.6 to ‘rediscover’ Celtic saints
THE European Union is to fund a £1.6 million project to “rediscover the fascinating heritage” of St David, patron of Wales, and his Irish pupil St Aidan. Plans include the restoration of St Non’s Well in St Davids diocese, close to the chapel traditionally regarded as St David’s birthplace; the commissioning of permanent artworks in both Wales and Ireland; and a joint schools project to animate the story of the two saints. The three-year project, announced by the Welsh Government’s Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, last month, is being organised by Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Wexford County Council, and Visit Wexford.
Rural-schools broadband pilot scheme welcomed
A £3-MILLION government pilot scheme to give gigabit-capable broadband connections to more than 100 rural primary schools in the next few months has been welcomed by the Church of England’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders. Three schools have been connected so far, and 52 have signed contracts, the Minister for Digital and Creative Industries, Margot James, said. A further 72 schools have expressed interest in participating. After the announcement on Tuesday, Mr Genders said: “Good connectivity is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ for schools, as learning technology becomes a vital tool to deliver the curriculum; so this is a social-justice issue for children in rural areas. The Church is a major provider of rural schools, and has worked with the Government through its digital accord to help combat poor connectivity.”
Mother Hilary FSJM dies, aged 92
THE Mother Superior for the past 55 years of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary, an Anglican religious community in Devon, Mother Hilary, has died, aged 92. She joined the order at the age of 15, when it was on the Isle of Wight, and became a Sister at 21. The order moved to Posbury St Francis, near Crediton, in 1942. Only one of the Sisters now survives. The Rt Revd Martin Shaw, an assistant bishop in Exeter diocese, who had an aunt at the convent, said: “Mother Hilary always looked at me with a healthy scepticism, which she did to most priests. Throughout her life, she was determined to defend the strong and traditional Anglo-Catholicism of the community. When I asked her about it getting smaller and smaller, she replied: ‘We shall die, and we’ll go to God. If that’s not good enough for you, Martin, I don’t know what is!’” Her funeral requiem will be on Tuesday 12 March at 11 a.m. at Crediton Parish Church (Holy Cross).
MU launches Mothering Sunday catalogue
THE Mothers’ Union is seeking to raise money for its education programmes in the UK and abroad by launching an ethical-gift catalogue for Mothering Sunday. The gifts range from £6 to £100, and focus on the MU’s programmes for literacy, business, and parenting skills around the world. makeamothersday.org/shop/
Foundation calls for higher pay for cocoa farmers
THE Fairtrade Foundation has called on the Government and UK companies to ensure that cocoa farmers earn living incomes by 2030, in line with the United Nations’ global goals to end poverty. Its latest report, Craving Change in Chocolate: How to secure a living income for cocoa farmers, describes the “tough conditions” of cocoa farmers living on 74p per day, when, “for around £1.86 per day, the average price of a large bar of chocolate, farmers could live a decent life.” The chocolate industry in the UK is worth £4 billion. “Despite this, many cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 60 per cent of cocoa is grown, are living in poverty,” it says. “The price farmers receive for their cocoa must increase, and that is why, in October 2019, Fairtrade is raising its Minimum Price and Premium. However, just six per cent of cocoa globally is Fairtrade-certified and therefore the movement calls for collective action from the government, industry, and consumers.” The research was carried out by Fairtrade International and the ISEAL Alliance. www.fairtrade.org.uk
Thousands of rough-sleepers prosecuted
MORE than 6000 rough-sleepers were found guilty of an offence under the Vagrancy Act (1824) across England and Wales between 2014 and 2017, the Liberal Democrat Party has reported. The figures from the Ministry of Justice, acquired through a freedom-of-information request, state that 6518 “offenders” were convicted: 1836 in the London; 646 in the West Midlands; 592 in Merseyside; and 441 Greater Manchester. Almost 600 homeless people died on UK streets in 2017. The Lib Dems said that the statistics set a “chilling and dangerous precedent”.
Theology slam final this Thursday
THE final of the inaugural “Theology Slam” competition will be held at St John’s, Hoxton, in London, on Thursday 7 March at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available on www.churchtimes.co.uk/theology-slam. The event will be streamed, live, on the Church Times Facebook page: www.facebook/churchtimes. The competition is organised jointly by the Church Times, SCM Press, the Community of St Anselm, and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. It has been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.