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UK news in brief

22 May 2020


Zoom and porrect: Bishop Cottrell is pictured in York Minster, in December. See gallery for more picture stories

Zoom and porrect: Bishop Cottrell is pictured in York Minster, in December. See gallery for more picture stories

Cottrell to be confirmed Archbishop of York virtually in July

THE Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell will be confirmed as the 98th Archbishop of York at 11 a.m. on Thursday 9 July, in a service broadcast on Zoom, and will be available on the Church of England’s website. It will comprise two parts: the legal ceremony, readings, prayers, and music; and a film to mark the start of his new ministry. Bishop Cottrell will give his first address as Archbishop; the choirs of York Minister and the Manor C of E Academy School will sing; and young people from the north of England will read a letter written by the medieval religious scholar Alcuin of York. Bishop Cottrell hoped that the love of God would shine out, “perhaps even to those who while never attending a service in York Minster might have a look online. I can still just about remember what it’s like to not be part of the Christian community. What inspired me to follow Jesus is that vision of a new humanity that I see in him.” Arrangements for an enthronement service will be announced later in the year. Dr Sentamu will mark his last day as Archbishop of York by preaching at a national service broadcast at 9 a.m. on Sunday 7 June.


Inquiry into Bishop Pain’s absence instigated

THE Bench of Bishops and the Representative Body of the Church in Wales have established an inquiry into the events surrounding the retirement of the Rt Revd Richard Pain as the Bishop of Monmouth, and to “review the procedures followed and decisions made by all those involved”. The Bishop took early retirement at the end of April 2019 on the grounds of ill-health. He had been “out of office” since the previous July. No official explanation other than “rest time away from his duties” was given for his absence, and, amid continuing talk of difficult relationships with senior staff, the Church in Wales put out a statement in December 2018 which sought to clarify the situation (News, 11 January). The inquiry and review panel, announced last Friday, will be chaired by the retired Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, who also chaired the Paterson inquiry. A statement on the Church in Wales website said: “The Panel has begun its work and will, in due course, speak to some of those most closely involved. It is hoped the Enquiry and Review will be completed within six months.”


Griffiths sentence appeal dismissed

THREE judges at the Court of Appeal, in London, have dismissed an appeal by Meirion Griffiths, a former Rector of St Pancras’s, Chichester, against his eight-year prison sentence for multiple offences of indecent assault. In January, he was convicted of sexually assaulting two women in the 1970s and ’80s (News, 17 January). One of the women, Julie Macfarlane, who has waived her right to anonymity, told the BBC that she was “delighted and relieved that justice has been done” and hoped that the failed appeal would “encourage other victims and survivors to come forward”.


Heritage Fund increases Covid-19 grants

THE National Lottery Heritage Fund has increased the level of grants available to cover emergency costs during the coronavirus crisis. Past and current applicants are encouraged to reapply for grants between £50,000 and £250,000, in addition to the £3000-£50,000 grants that were launched in mid-April (News, 3 April). The new grants are available for essential costs for up to four months, to help organisations mitigate immediate risks. The chief executive of the Heritage Fund, Ros Kerslake, said: “Although we may not be able to fund everything, we do encourage organisations to get in touch and apply for funding. . . We want to support organisations to actively deal with immediate risks, become more stable, and work towards longer-term recovery.”


Toddlers provide link to churches

THREE-QUARTERS of all parents who have children under five years old have attended a church activity in the past year, new research commissioned by HOPE Together, the Church of England, and the Evangelical Alliance suggests. The findings of the online Savanta ComRes survey of 1182 British parents of children aged 0-4 years old (6 to 28 February) were published in the annual Talking Toddlers report, on Monday. It states that 12 per cent of all parents of under-fives were practising Christians; the rest (non-practising parents) had attended a church activity for this age group anyway in the past year. More than half of these parents (55 per cent) said that they had explored their own beliefs as a result. The assistant director of HOPE Together, Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, said: “We so often hear about ageing Church, but here is something new — very young Church. . . The Church has . . . a huge opportunity to help a generation begin in faith if they start with the under-fives and their parents.”


Children’s Society trustee shot dead in the street

A TRUSTEE of the Children’s Society, Aya Hachem, who was 19, has been shot dead from a passing car in Blackburn. Police report that she was killed by a single bullet while on her way to a supermarket on Sunday afternoon. On Wednesday, three men who had been arrested on suspicion of her murder were being detained for questioning. Police said that she was not thought to have been the intended target. The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Mark Russell, said: “We are deeply saddened. . . She was a truly remarkable young woman, and an inspiring voice for children and young people. Our thoughts are with her family at this awful time.” A statement from the diocese of Blackburn said: “Shock and horror are the words that come to mind. We, as leaders of the Church of England in Lancashire, affirm our strong belief that violence should not have any place in our community. We express our heartfelt sympathy and support for Aya’s family and friends as they face this terrible and unexpected news, assuring them of our love and prayers.”

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