St Asaph and Helsinki dioceses form new link
A FORMAL link has been agreed between the diocese of St Asaph in the Church in Wales and the Evangelical Lutheran diocese of Helsinki in Finland. The partnership was signed by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, and the Bishop of Helsinki, Teemu Laajasalo, during the visit of a Finnish delegation to north Wales on Monday. Young people from both dioceses will be attending youth-leader programmes in each country during the year, and next year the diocese of St Asaph will run a confirmation camp for older teenagers in Finland. Bishop Cameron said: “The Lutheran tradition in Finland has many things in common with our own history, but also throws much that we take for granted into sharp relief.”
Abbey accused of spurning Ethiopian priests
WESTMINSTER ABBEY has been accused of cultural insensitivity for allegedly failing to respond to a group of Ethiopian Orthodox priests who asked to pray beside a tiny replica, known as a tabot, of the tablet of stone on which God is said to have inscribed the Ten Commandments, The Guardian reports. The tabot, located behind the altar in the Henry VII Lady Chapel, was acquired by a 19th-century soldier, Captain W. Arbuthnot, after the battle of Maqdala, and was subsequently presented to the Abbey (News, 7 September 2007). In 2010, the Abbey was accused of sacrilege after it refused to return the artefact to Ethiopia. Last year, an Ethiopian deacon in London, Samuel Berhanu, asked unsuccessfully “to organise a viewing and prayer session” for Ethiopian Orthodox church leaders. He was told that the Abbey had “no plans” to allow anyone to see the tabot because its “sensitive nature” meant that it should not be uncovered.
Charity joins campaign against Universal Credit
THE ecumenical homelessness charity Housing Justice has joined a campaign to reform of the five-week wait for benefits under the Universal Credit system. The #5WeeksTooLong campaign was started by the Christian foodbank charity, the Trussell Trust, in response to the increasing numbers of people in the UK who rely on foodbanks while waiting for a first Universal Credit payment. The chief executive of Housing Justice, Kathy Mohan, said: “We are seeing the effect of the sclerotic Universal Credit system on those experiencing homelessness, at times preventing people moving on with their lives in to settled accommodation.”
Bell-tower drop-in to receive Queen’s Award
A DROP-IN centre for young people in the bell tower of Chichester Cathedral is to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday. The project, which offers mentoring and support to secondary-school pupils, was nominated by the recently retired head of Bishop Luffa School, Nick Taunt. “In my time as head of Bishop Luffa, I saw a positive impact on the attitudes, behaviour, and attendance of those children who frequented sessions.” The project manager, Sam Harding, said: “I feel particularly proud when I see many young people who have used our centre for years choosing to come back to volunteer and give back to their community.”
Eco gold for Methodist church
THE Methodist church in Stratford-upon-Avon has become the first Methodist church in the UK to receive a Gold Eco-Church award from the environmental charity A Rocha. The building was refurbished in 2014, reducing the annual carbon footprint from 40 tonnes to 16 tonnes. The church has also installed solar panels and a ground-source heat pump, and the lavatories are flushed using rain water.