*** DEBUG END ***

UK news in brief

11 December 2020

Russell Sach

Back on song: The choir of Chichester Cathedral sing during the eucharist on Sunday, the first full day of services since the second national lockdown was lifted

Back on song: The choir of Chichester Cathedral sing during the eucharist on Sunday, the first full day of services since the second national lockdown was lifted


Police inquiry into Dean Percy dropped

THE Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, has been told by Thames Valley Police that there is insufficient evidence against him concerning an alleged safeguarding incident at the college (News, 20 November) and that it will take no further action. The College will continue its own investigation, which is being carried out by Kate Wood, a retired detective from Sussex who sat on the core group that found against Bishop Bell (News, 30 October 2015), and was a safeguarding consultant for the Archbishop of Canterbury from 2008 until 2015. Her report also forms part of the Church’s ongoing investigation under the Clergy Discipline Measure. Dean Percy denies any wrongdoing.


Rogue surgeon’s patients recalled for assessment

MORE than 5000 former patients of Ian Paterson, a rogue breast surgeon who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017 for wounding with intent, are being recalled for assessment by Spire Healthcare, the private hospital in which he worked. Spire Healthcare is writing to the 5500 living patients who were seen by him between 1993 and 2011 to offer an ongoing treatment plan and support, The Independent reports. An inquiry led by a former Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, concluded in February that the surgeon had performed inadequate or unnecessary breast cancer surgery on thousands of women. Bishop James said that the more than 11,000 patients who had been treated had been let down by a healthcare system “which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe” (News, 7 February). A dedicated freephone helpline has been set up for patients to speak to specialist staff: 0800 085 8130.


CTE appoints Pentecostal Relations officer

A NEW Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Multi-cultural Relations at Churches Together in England has been appointed from next March. She is Shermara Fletcher, who will also facilitate CTE’s new Racial Justice Working Group. Ms Fletcher is currently the director of the William Seymour Project at the Centre for Theology and Community, and co-founder of the Open Table at St George-in-the-East. The William Seymour Project supports Pentecostal and Charismatic churches in campaigning for justice through community initiatives. The Open Table is a mission house for homeless people. Ms Fletcher began her career with the Buxton Leadership Programme, run by the Centre for Theology and Community, where she arranged hustings with political leaders and faith groups, among them Barack Obama’s faith adviser. She also set up a multifaith chaplaincy in a Technical UTC school in east London. She is a member of The Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race, and the Imani Forum.


Teenager arrested after Mackworth church blaze

A TEENAGER in Derby has been arrested on suspicion of arson after fire gutted the Victorian church All Saints’, Mackworth, on Thursday of last week. The 17-year-old boy was questioned by police over the weekend. The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, who visited the site on Sunday, told local media: “Seeing it for myself for the first time is absolutely heart-breaking. . . This is an awful tragedy to have happened to the people of Mackworth, but I know it will only bring the community together stronger.” A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise money for repairs as well as the church’s restoration fund. The investigation to establish the cause of the fire is continuing, Derbyshire Police have said.


Name-change considered for Southwell Minster

SOUTHWELL MINSTER is considering “presenting its status as one of England’s 42 cathedrals more explicitly”, the Dean, the Very Revd Nicola Sullivan has said on Wednesday — although a survey that was published online seeking views on potential new names has been taken down. Dean Sullivan had posted on social media on Monday: “Southwell Minster chapter are currently reviewing its name. This is in response to its status and a shift nationally as to what cathedrals are called. The word minster is not a particularly familiar word with many people across the UK and overseas.” The post included a questionnaire with four proposed name changes: Southwell Cathedral, Nottingham; Southwell Minster Cathedral, Nottingham; Southwell Minster Cathedral, serving the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham; and Southwell Minster, the Cathedral Church of Nottingham. In her statement on Wednesday, however, Dean Sullivan said that the questionnaire had been “released prematurely before being agreed with us and has now been taken down”. It had “contained errors in the way it was presented and the names put forward”. She continued: “We want to reassure those of you who have raised concerns that we will always respect the heritage of Southwell Minster.”


Community sponsorship receives £1m boost

THE Shapiro Foundation, based in the United States, has pledged £1 million to the community-sponsorship programme, enabling communities across the UK to resettle hundreds more refugee families. The scheme was piloted at Lambeth Palace (News, 24 July 2016). Since then, community-sponsorship groups have resettled 449 refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East (News, 24 July). On Sunday, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, told an online assembly, Refugees Still Welcome, hosted by Citizens UK: “As a nation, we could become known for welcoming refugees.”


Lichfield choral scholar wins composer award

A SIXTH-FORM choral scholar at Lichfield Cathedral School and member of the cathedral choir, Eilidh Owen, has won the National Centre for Early Music Young Composer Award 2020 in the 18-and-under category. Her winning composition — based on the first and last verses of George Herbert’s poem “The Flower” — will be performed by the Tallis Scholars at a concert in the Cadogan Hall, London, on 24 March. It will be recorded for broadcast later on Radio 3’s Early Music Show. Ms Owen said: “This was the first choir piece I’ve ever written, and I didn’t expect to do so well.” Listen to all the finalist’s pieces at www.ncem.co.uk/composersaward2020

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)