Alexa asked about Church of England 75,000 times
THE Church of England’s “Alexa skill” has been used more than 75,000 times in its first year. About one third of recent questions were on religion in general, such as “Who is God?” or “What is faith?” — 40 per cent were requests to hear prayers. Launched last year (News, 23 May 2018), the application is mostly used in the evenings, data shows. As a result, the Church’s Digital and Church House Publishing teams have added a wider range of meal-time, evening, and night-time prayers. The C of E’s head of digital, Adrian Harris, said that he was pleased with the level of engagement, and that his team would be bringing the content to different smart-speaker platforms in the coming months.
Commissioners put forward proposals at ExxonMobil AGM
THE head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners, Edward Mason, presented two shareholder proposals — for an independent chairman and a board matrix — at ExxonMobil’s AGM, on Wednesday. On behalf of Climate Action 100+, Mr Mason argued for separate positions for the chief executive and chair: more than 40.8 per cent of shareholders voted in support. He also called for disclosure of a board matrix that includes each director’s gender and race/ethnicity, as well as their skills, experience, and attributes that are most relevant in light of the company’s business: this was backed by 28 per cent.
York Minster publishes plan for new square
A NEW public square named after the Queen has been included in proposals in the emerging draft Neighbourhood Plan for the York Minster Precinct, which was published this month. Queen Elizabeth Square, located at the west end of the cathedral, would be the first new square in York for 200 years. Other proposals include a new café and outdoor seating on the south side of the Minster, a new ticket office and welcome centre for visitors, and a dedicated cycle path at Deangate. Members of the public can respond to the proposals online until 10 June.
Estates ministry boosted by grant from Allchurches Trust
THE Allchurches Trust has given a grant of more than £155,000 to the National Estate Churches Network (NECN) to support estates ministry, after the General Synod of the Church of England agreed that estates should be part of dioceses’ planning and their funding bids (News, 1 March). The NECN will work with the Estates Evangelism Task Group to resource estate churches and church leaders, and engage young people. The chair of NECN, Canon Andy Delmege, said: “This grant comes at a critical juncture for the work of the Church on estates, at a time when residents and local services are under increasing pressure. Our vision is of estate churches that are a point of community cohesion, support, nourishment, and, above all, a sign of hope for residents.”
Living in Love and Faith working group loses another member
SARA GILLINGHAM, who was born with intersex traits (Features, 22 February), has quit Living in Love and Faith (LLF), the working group commissioned by the Archbishops to look into sexuality, citing “dishonesty and hostility” from both conservative and liberal Christians. She posted on Twitter: “I’ll no be longer be working with #LLF after June joining @tina_beardsley I knew #LLF participation would be harmful as it did not seek to affirm our intersex/VSC embodiment, but hadn’t expected dishonesty & hostility from both conservatives & liberals #clericalism @ChurchTimes”. Dr Christina Beardsley, a retired healthcare chaplain, also quit the project, last June, because LGBTI+ friends had been “demonised” during the meetings (Features, 1 February).