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UK news in brief

03 July 2020


Micheál Martin leaves the Dáil, in the Convention Centre, Dublin, on Saturday

Micheál Martin leaves the Dáil, in the Convention Centre, Dublin, on Saturday

Irish Primates welcome new Taoiseach

THE Church of Ireland’s two Primates, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, have congratulated the new Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, on taking office. In a joint statement, they assured him of “our prayers and good wishes, and those of the Church of Ireland community” and said: “This government will face unprecedented new challenges and wrestle with a number of unresolved old ones… It is a task which will require prodigious energy, resourcefulness and trust.”


Charity Commission orders mediation at Christ Church

THE Charity Commission has instructed the Governing Body of Christ Church, Oxford, and the Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, “to enter into formal mediation within a limited time frame”, with a mediator whom it has chosen. The Commission’s chief executive, Helen Stephenson, said on Thursday of last week: “It is not our job, as charity regulator, to referee disputes.” Also in the past week, Christ Church has announced that it has suspended the Regius Professor of Hebrew, Jan Joosten, who is 61, on hearing of his sentencing to one year in prison for downloading 28,000 child-abuse images and videos. He was one of the 41 dons who signed a letter complaining about Dean Percy to the Charity Commission.


Paula Vennells steps back from EIAG

THE Revd Paula Vennells, who serves as an NSM of Bromham with Oakley and Stagsden, in St Albans diocese, has taken leave of absence from the C of E’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). She was formerly the chief executive of Post Office Counters, which is currently being investigated by the House of Commons Business Committee over its treatment of sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses accused, fined, and, in some instances, jailed for accounting errors that were later admitted to have been caused by the faulty Horizon IT system.


Society seeks evidence for clergy-discipline review

THE working party of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, chaired by His Honour Peter Collier QC, has issued a call for evidence as part of its review of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. The consultation document, available on the society’s website for anyone wishing to contribute, states that there is “widespread dissatisfaction with the 2003 scheme, particularly with regard to delays, lack of pastoral support and the inability of respondents to know the case against them from the outset.” Submissions are being accepted until 31 July. ecclawsoc.org.uk


Hereford resource launched for young people

THE diocese of Hereford is investing £325,000 in a city-centre hub church for young people, despite not having been awarded funds from the national Renewal and Reform scheme. The project, supported by the congregations of St Peter’s and St James’s, Hereford, will focus on mental health and well-being among the 25,000 students and young people who live in the city. The Vicar, the Revd Andy Morgan, said: “We hope this project will create a new worshipping community in the heart of the city, as well as providing a hands-on learning and training environment to equip more people as Christian leaders at all levels for the 21st century.”


Change of medium boosts rural viewing numbers

ATTENDANCE at online services streamed by a group of ten rural parishes, the Badminton Benefice, in Gloucester diocese, during the lockdown has risen by 1300 per cent, after it switched from Zoom to YouTube. The highest figure for a service is 286 views, with the total number of views for all services since lockdown began at 3655. A Reader and Archbishop’s Evangelist, Chris Andrew, said: “We are not Zooming in this part of the Church of England for our services, and it is making all the difference. Instead, we let the music, pictures, and timeless beauty of God’s word speak for itself online via YouTube.”


Fairtrade Foundation applauds rise in sales

FIGURES from the Fairtrade Foundation show that UK consumers helped to generate $41 million for farmers and workers in the Global South last year. In particular, sales of Fairtrade cocoa rose by 23 per cent, sales of flowers increased by 12 per cent, and wine sales went up by ten per cent compared with 2018. The foundation’s chief executive, Michael Gidney, said: “As the current Covid-19 crisis has shown, there is so much more to be done to tackle poverty and redress exploitation in trade. During this pandemic, business and shopper support has been critical Fairtrade sales and investment have provided a lifeline to communities.”

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