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UK news in brief

24 April 2020


C of E Pensions Board welcomes Shell move

PLANS for Royal Dutch Shell to be a net-zero-emissions energy business by 2050 have been welcomed by the Church of England Pensions Board’s director of ethics and engagement, Adam Matthews. On Easter Thursday, Shell told its investors of its ambitions to align its net carbon footprint with the Paris agreement. Mr Matthews, a board member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, and co-lead as part of the Climate Action 100+ dialogue with Shell, said: “It is indicative of Shell’s confidence in not only navigating the immediate situation but rightly sets the focus on developing net-zero pathways in key sectors that shape the demand for energy.”


‘Francis Wagstaffe’ clerical humorist dies

THE Revd David Johnson, the clerical humorist and former parish priest best known for his Francis Wagstaffe hoax letters to Church of England bishops and other dignitaries and celebrities, died on Wednesday morn­ing. Besides his book (with Toby Forward) The Spiritual Quest of Francis Wagstaffe, from which proceeds went to charity, he had a hand in the 1981 one-off spoof newspaper Not the Church Times. This won him the position of television reviewer for the Church Times itself, for the period 1989 to 1993, described by the then editor, John Whale, as “a stint of valiant length”. Johnson served latterly as an unofficial chaplain to the Oxford Union.


Faith leaders issue Earth Day call for change

THE Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, has joined other faith leaders in the city in a statement released on Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. It says: “We urge governments and businesses to promote radical yet just change to decrease carbon emissions, restore ecosystems and promote healthy environments on a universal scale. At the same time, we recognise that each and every one of us has the opportunity and the duty to make small but significant adjustments to our daily lives.” To mark Earth Day, the Christian charity Tearfund has appealed to the UK public to write to the chief executives of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo urging them to dramatic­ally reduce the amount of single-use plastic they sell into developing countries.


Tribute paid to Bishop Barrington-Ward

THE Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, has paid tribute to his predecessor from 1985 to 1997, the Rt Revd Simon Barrington-Ward, who died on Holy Saturday, aged 89 (Gazette, 17 April). In a statement, he said: “Before coming to Coventry, Bishop Simon was my Spiritual Director and, throughout my time as one of his successors, Simon’s example has been an inspiration. . . Bishop Simon taught me to pray a very simple prayer, called ‘The Jesus Prayer’. He told me that, like him, I would need to use it during the day as bishop ‘to come up for air’.” Bishop Cocksworth said he joined the whole diocese in being indebted to “a kind and holy Father-in-God”. Obituary to follow.

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