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UK news in brief

10 January 2020


Westminster Cathedral, pictured last September. See gallery for more UK picture stories

Westminster Cathedral, pictured last September. See gallery for more UK picture stories

Westminster Cathedral musician resigns

THE Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Martin Baker, has resigned, the RC diocese of Westminster has announced. A statement published on Tuesday read: “It is with regret that we announce the resignation of Martin Baker as Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral with effect from 31 December 2019. We take the opportunity to thank him for his dedication and service over the past two decades and wish him the very best in his future career.” An accompanying note stated that the diocese would “start to address these new circumstances created by Mr Baker’s resignation. A further announcement will be made in the coming weeks.” His resignation comes after a row between parents and governors at Westminster Cathedral Choir School over its decision to reduce the number of days pupils board from seven to five.


DfID ‘live another day’ after merger plans dropped

REPORTS that the Prime Minister has dropped plans to close the Department for International Development and merge its work with the Foreign Office have been welcomed by Christian Aid. The aid agency has previously expressed concern at the proposals, which included the creation of a separate borders and immigration department. The head of advocacy at Christian Aid, Laura Taylor, said: “It’s great to hear reports that the Government has recognised the world-leading quality of DfID, and that it lives to fight another day. The UK can be proud of its record on international development, and, with all the challenges facing the world’s poorest people in 2020, from climate change to economic inequality, it deserves the attention of a dedicated department. We’re pleased that the UK’s commitment to the 0.7 per cent aid budget continues, and DfID has by far the best track record across government for using aid effectively. Keeping DfID means this money is more likely to help the most vulnerable communities around the world.”


Churches win £1000 in Ecclesiastical campaign

SEVEN churches and Christian charities are among the 120 organisations that were nominated by the public to receive £1000 through the specialist insurer Ecclesiastical’s Christmas campaign. Thousands of people voted for more than 5000 different causes around the UK. The 120 winning charities were picked at random from those nominated to receive a share of £120,000 over the 12 days of Christmas. The seven Christian recipients were the Church Pastoral Aid Society; Northern Inter-Schools Christian Union; Raise Kids Work; Taunton Youth for Christ; and the PCCs of St Mary the Virgin, East Preston with Kingston; St Mary the Virgin, Uffculme; and St Luke’s, West Holloway, London.


Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral appears in court

THE Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral, Canon Paul Overend, has denied indecently assaulting a woman between April and July 1997, when he was a chaplain at Cardiff University. He was charged with a non-recent indecent assault in November (News, 29 November 2019), and appeared at Cardiff Crown Court last week, accused of grabbing the woman and kissing her. Canon Overend has been absent from the cathedral since April. He was granted unconditional bail by Judge Richard Twomlow. A trial date has been set for 29 June.


‘Places of Welcome’ scheme continues to grow

THE Near Neighbours scheme — a partnership between the Church Urban Fund and the Archbishops’ Council — has opened more than 395 “Places of Welcome” in six years, 17 per cent of which have opened in the past year (News, 12 October 2018). Almost 60 per cent are hosted in places of worship, its latest survey states. Organisers at 67 per cent of venues reported having at least one new person a week, and more than 80 per cent reported that they had helped visitors in some way. Since its foundation in 2011, Near Neighbours has awarded millions of pounds in small grants to thousands of community projects that seek to build trust between people across religious divides. Its Place of Welcome programme, started in 2014, encourages community groups to offer a safe space in which faith and ethnic communities in the UK can gather, talk, and eat together.

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