UK news in brief

by
11 October 2019

ELY CATHEDRAL

Grumpy? Participants at the annual pet-blessing service at Ely Cathedral, held last month. See gallery for more pictures of the service and other UK picture stories

Grumpy? Participants at the annual pet-blessing service at Ely Cathedral, held last month. See gallery for more pictures of the service and other UK p...

 

Winchester schools to mark Auschwitz anniversary

SCHOOLS in the diocese of Winchester are being invited to create “Peace Poles” — among other activities — to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp next year. The project was announced by the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, this week. The poles will be displayed in Winchester Cathedral in June 2020. The Bishop Dakin: “In recent years, we have seen a rapid rise in anti-Semitism. It is so important that we teach our children to tackle hatred and to stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and, indeed, with any marginalised community. I hope that children in all of our diocesan schools will participate in the activities throughout the year.”

 

Tribunal rules against doctor over transgender pronouns

AN EMPLOYMENT tribunal has ruled against Dr David Mackereth, of Dudley, who left his job as a health and disabilities assessor, with the agency Advanced Personnel Management, for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), after objecting, on grounds of conscience, to using any pronoun other than the birth gender for transgender people. He now works as an NHS emergency doctor in Shropshire. Dr Mackereth said that the DWP had breached his right to freedom of religion and belief, but the panel ruled that his objection was “incompatible with human dignity” and that such a refusal could potentially breach the Equality Act. The judge stated that the protection of Dr Mackereth’s Christian beliefs was not in question, rather, “whether he was entitled to manifest those beliefs in the circumstances that applied here”. Dr Mackereth has said that he will appeal. In July, he told the tribunal that his line manager has asked him: “If you have a man six foot tall with a beard who says he wants to be addressed as ‘she’ and ‘Mrs’, would you do that?” Dr Mackereth had said that he would not. The Christian Legal Centre’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, called the ruling “deeply disturbing”. The DWP welcomed it. A DWP spokeswoman said: “We expect all assessors to approach their work sensitively.”

 

St Anne’s, Soho, apologises to Jewish community

ST ANNE’s, Soho, in London, has apologised for “inadvertently” hosting an event organised by a Holocaust denier. Its website states: “We accepted a room booking from an organisation called ‘Keep Talking’ for them to hold an evening entitled ‘Journey of an Israeli in Palestine’. Unfortunately, this event, which was entirely separate from the church, may not have accurately reflected our values or those of our community.” The group was founded by Professor Nicolaus Kollerstrom, who has previously denied the existence of the gas chambers and the murder of six million Jews, the Jewish Chronicle reports. St Anne’s has donated the room-hire fee to the Community Security Trust, a charity that seeks to protect the Jewish community. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, said: “We are very grateful to St Anne’s for its heartfelt apology.”

 

Business Committee responds to boom in Synod questions

MEMBERS of the General Synod have been invited to submit questions for written answers to be published before the group of sessions next February. An email to Synod members this week read: “Mindful of the exceptionally high number of questions in February and July, the Business Committee has decided to use its powers under Standing Order 117(1) to give members the opportunity to submit questions for written answer between groups of sessions. This is a process last used in 2008.” Questions should be sent to questions@churchofengland.org The deadline is noon on Friday 8 November.

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