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UK news in brief

15 October 2021

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St Peter’s School, York

The Cross Keys Junior Choir, a collaboration between York Minster and St Peter’s School, York, is being launched tomorrow. St Peter’s became the choir school for York Minster last September. The new choir is free of fees and will be hosted on Saturday mornings during term time in the school chapel

The Cross Keys Junior Choir, a collaboration between York Minster and St Peter’s School, York, is being launched tomorrow. St Peter’s became the choir...


Loosen poverty’s grip, urges Archbishop of York

THE voices of people in poverty must become “more audible and influential in public debate”, the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, wrote in the Yorkshire Post this week, at the start of Challenge Poverty Week. Recalling the “newfound neighbourliness” of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, he wrote of the need to “protect and retain that unity and sense of mutual care that helped us through the first lockdowns” and to discuss “what needs to change so that everyone can thrive as we emerge from the pandemic. . . We must resolve to find ways to redesign our economic systems, to loosen poverty’s grip, so everyone can live a full and dignified life. We cannot and must not have a recovery where the wealthy can speed off down the fast lane, while others are left broken down on the hard shoulder.”


Leicester synod approves minster communities

LEICESTER diocesan synod voted on Saturday in favour of a minster-community framework. An amendment was carried that the stipendiary leadership team of at least four people (including lay and ordained posts) in each of the 20-25 communities would be led by an “oversight minister” who was ordained (News, 8 October). As well as the oversight minister, the leadership teams will comprise at least three other stipendiary posts. A total of 72 per cent of the synod members voted in favour of the framework. The House of Laity voted by 28 to 12, and the House of Clergy by 36 to 13, with one abstention. The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, said: “Nothing is going to change overnight, and everything will be done in discussion with parishes. Every PCC, school governing body, and fresh expression will be involved. Each will decide for itself how they engage with this.” Letter


Mediators appointed in Aberdeen & Orkney

THE steering group appointed to improve relationships in the diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney after disputes with the Bishop, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer (News, 8 October), has appointed the University of Dundee Mediation and Early Dispute Resolution Service to run the process. The steering group has issued a general invitation to the diocese to participate, and promises that the process will be confidential.


Governance award for Church Commissioners

THE Church Commissioners have received an award for excellence in Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance from the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA). A press release from Church House, Westminster, said that the judges had “recognised the work the Commissioners are doing in their private equity portfolio with regard to climate change and diversity and inclusion. As investors in private equity, the Commissioners have a powerful role in steering what environmental and social considerations their investment managers focus on when investing in or buying private companies.” The head of private equity for the Church Commissioners, Paul Amodia, said: “We see no inconsistency between generating returns and trying to make a positive change in the world.”


Welsh cleric deposed after admitting to indecent images

A FORMER Rector of Aberavon, Nigel Cahill, has been deposed from Holy Orders and expelled from the office of cleric of the Church in Wales after admitting two offences of making indecent images of children. A BBC report stated that he had been found with 219 indecent images of children. He was suspended in June 2020 after being arrested at his home in Port Talbot. On Monday of last week, the Church’s disciplinary tribunal ordered that he be expelled.


LGBT+ Christians surveyed on safety

AN ONLINE survey asking LGBT+ Christians over 18 in the UK about safety in churches was launched on Sunday by a group of nine Christian LGBT+ organisations, including the Ozanne Foundation. The aim is to “measure how safe LGBT+ Christians feel, what steps have been taken by their local churches and what more can be done to help them feel safe”, a press release said. Jayne Ozanne, who was an Oxford lay representative on the last General Synod, said: “Many LGBT+ Christians feel increasingly vulnerable in their local churches given the increasingly toxic rhetoric around sexuality and gender identity. We thought it essential to measure in a safe and anonymous way just how safe people feel able to be about who they are, and what steps should be taken to make them feel safer.”


New director for Theos

THEOS, a think tank dedicated to exploring the place of religion in society, has appointed Chine McDonald, Christian Aid’s head of community fund-raising and public engagement, as its new director. A theology graduate, trained journalist, and regular contributor to TV and radio programmes including Thought for the Day, and the author of books including God is Not a White Man (Features, 21 May; Books, 11 June), Mrs McDonald will join Theos in January 2022. “I have long admired the work of Theos: its clear-sightedness, its creativity, its ability to draw people in with differing points of view, its success at presenting to the world a credible Christian voice and a non-anxious presence in a society that can at times feel increasingly fractured,” she said this week. She succeeds Elizabeth Oldfield.


Lord Carey: Return treasures to Ethiopia

CALLS to return the Ethiopian tabots, looted by British forces during their Abyssinian expedition of 1868, and now held by the British Museum, have been been backed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey. The tabots, altar tablets, are considered by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to be the dwelling place of God on earth, a representation of the Ark of the Covenant. A legal opinion, seen by The Guardian, states that the British Museum Act 1963 has a provision to allow disposal of objects “unfit to be retained” which can be disposed of “without detriment to the interests of students”. It argues that the tabots, which have never been on public display, fall within this category, having “no apparent use or relevance to the museum”.


Retired archdeacon completes ten-hour preachathon

DAVID BAXTERThe Ven. Arthur Hawes, in the pulpitA FORMER Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Ven. Arthur Hawes, embarked on a “preachathon” on 25 September, speaking for ten hours at St Mary’s, Reepham, in Norfolk, with hourly five-minute breaks, raising more than £3000 for Rotary Club of Reepham in the process. The congregation, listening to a selection of sermons from a fifty-year ministry, varied throughout the day between two and 20, including his wife, Melanie, who listened for the full ten hours. “We believe this is a UK record,” Archdeacon Hawes said, “but we would love to hear from anyone who has attempted the same thing.” The charity can be supported at bit.ly/RRCpreach.


New qualifications for teachers and leaders

A NEW set of national professional qualifications (NPQs) for teachers and school leaders has been announced by the Department for Education. The Church of England was named as one of the national providers of the qualification in March (News, 9 April), and, on Tuesday, the chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, welcomed the news that all NPQs would be fully funded for any teacher or leader in any state school. The qualifications include training for teachers who are, or are aspiring to be, an executive head teacher or have a school-trust chief- executive position with responsibility for leading several schools.


Work continues on C of E’s website accessibility

AN UPDATE on work to improve the accessibility of the C of E’s websites has been published by the national communications team. The blog states that accessibility is “not just something we should think about after creating digital content — it should be considered from the very start, so that nobody is excluded”. The work, conducted with an external auditor, has included technical tests, user feedback and live sessions working with people living with disabilities as they navigate and browse the websites. Testing involved a range of scenarios based on typical user journeys through the websites, such as seeking information on having a child christened including identifying their local church. Among the challenges identified were use of faint text, words in capital letters, unclear or illogical headings, and missing labels for screen readers.

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