Safe Spaces helps 188 people in first year
THE helpline for survivors of sexual abuse in a church context, Safe Spaces, set up by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, marked its first anniversary this week. The helpline, run by Victim Support, has “helped a total of 188 people” since it was launched at the end of September 2020 (Comment, 9 October 2020), a statement from Church House, Westminster, says. “Those contacting Safe Spaces have received a range of support including emotional support, advocacy, information and advice. Service users have also been supported to raise their cases with the Church and statutory agencies.” An independent evaluation has been commissioned to assess the service’s effectiveness, the statement says. safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk
Croydon parish to be dissolved
THE incumbent of All Saints’, Spring Park, Shirley, in Croydon, the Revd Yvonne Clarke, is considering appealing to the Privy Council after the Church Commissioners’ Mission, Pastoral, and Church Property Committee decided to dissolve the parish, her lawyers have said. The decision was made after a proposed pastoral reorganisation instigated by the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, to dissolve the parish of All Saints’, Spring Park, and divide it between the parishes of St George, Shirley, and St John, Shirley (News, 5 February, Press 12 March). Leigh Day, the law firm representing Ms Clarke, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Commissioners’ decision “stated that they were satisfied that the Diocese had followed the correct consultation process and that the parish is not financially viable in its current form”. The decision meant that Ms Clarke would “lose her home, as well as her job”, the statement said.
Repairs will cost ‘£1 billion over next five years’
PARISH churches in England will need to spend £1 billion on repairs in the next five years, a spokesperson for the Church Commissioners has told the Press Association (PA). The figure was given after a parliamentary exchange between the Conservative MP Alexander Stafford and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous. Mr Selous told Mr Stafford that churches raised approximately £130 million a year for repairs to the country’s 16,000 church buildings. Mr Stafford told the PA that he would like the Government to step in. “I have a lot of churches in my constituency which are not in a good state of repair,” he said. “I think the UK is very blessed with beautiful churches and a great heritage and history and we have a duty to keep them and restore them and make sure they are maintained. . . It’s worrying there’s this huge shortfall between how much is needed every year.”
Bishops to meet to discuss big issues
SMALL regional groups of bishops are to meet over the next eight months to discuss some of the big issues facing the Church of England. A news release on Tuesday said that “their purpose is to underpin the discernment and decision-making that bishops are engaged in as part of a number of workstreams relating to the Church’s vision and strategy, governance, culture, and Living in Love and Faith” (the Church’s discussion stream about sexuality). The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said that it would be an opportunity to reflect on these workstreams “with openness, honesty, vulnerability and hopefulness”.
The Gideons change their name
THE mission charity Gideons UK, which distributes 800,000 copies of the Bible each year in schools, hotels, hospitals, prisons, and elsewhere, has changed its name to Good News for Everyone! The charity’s executive director, Iain J. Mair, said: “We feel this change is in keeping with God’s will for the organisation, and there has been overwhelming support from our members.” goodnewsuk.com
Jordan Peterson to visit Cambridge next month
THE Canadian academic Professor Jordan Peterson is to visit Cambridge next month. An earlier invitation from the Faculty of Divinity to be a visiting professor was rescinded after Professor Peterson was photographed next to a supporter who was wearing an anti-Islam T-shirt (News, 29 March 2019). The new invitation for the end of November has come from Dr James Orr, University Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at the Faculty of Divinity, who has described Professor Peterson as a “fearless advocate of academic freedom and freedom of conscience at a time when these values are widely considered to be under threat”. Professor Peterson has wrestled publicly in recent months with his beliefs about Christianity (News, 1 April).
Contactless device generates £1 million in donations
THE technology company Sprout announced last week that £1 million has been donated to charities using its CollecTin More contactless-payment device, launched at the start of 2020. The device, begun six years ago, allows donors to choose one of six amounts to give before tapping it with their bank card. The company reports: “More than 45,000 donations have now been made on CollecTin Mores, with an average donation value of £10.76, far higher than you’d see with cash.” Worshippers and church visitors in Cumbria taking part in a pilot scheme to encourage contactless giving have been using the device (News, 28 May).