Irish Primate praises outgoing First Minister
THE Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, has paid tribute to Arlene Foster, who resigned as First Minister of Northern Ireland this week. She served from January 2016 to January 2017 — when the NI Assembly collapsed — and again from January 2020. In March, she was ousted as leader of the Democratic Union Party (DUP) after an internal revolt. Archbishop McDowell said that he had known her for years as both a senior politician and a member of the Church of Ireland. “I have admired Mrs Foster’s commitment to her vocation as a political figure and as a diligent member of her parish. The vocation of a politician is one of immense complexity, nowhere more so that in a divided society like Northern Ireland. . . I trust and pray that Arlene will have more time to employ her many talents in other contexts.”
Bishop Chessun recovers from knee surgery
THE Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, is delegating some of his duties while he recovers from emergency knee surgery carried out in King’s College Hospital this week. In a letter to his diocese, he wrote: “I have been in the best of hands, and my admiration for our National Health Service was already very considerable, but I have seen at first hand the workings of all the different and essential parts of the hospital community.” He also praised the hospital’s chaplaincy team.
C of I to mark War of Independence centenary
THE Liturgical Advisory Committee (LAC) of the Church of Ireland has lent support to parishes that plan to mark the Centenary of the End of the War of Independence on 11 July. It has published an introduction on the historical context, written by Dr Marie Coleman (Reader in History, Queen’s University, Belfast); a suggested order of service; scripture readings; and prayers. The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Dr Paul Colton, who chairs the Historical Centenaries Working Group, said: “The primary roles of the Church include worship and prayer, and to bear witness to the Christian message of love and reconciliation. These liturgies . . . are designed to assist members of the Church of Ireland to do exactly these things.” In her introduction, Dr Coleman writes that the War of Independence had been “a difficult period for church members, many of whom were victims of personal, sometimes fatal, injuries, or damage to their property”.
Renters struggling despite economic recovery, says JRF
RENTERS are struggling to stay afloat, despite the economic recovery that is under way, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has warned. Research published by the JRF at the end of last month suggests that 1.7 million renting households are worried about paying their rent over the next three months, and that nearly one million are worried about being evicted during the same period. The JRF says that black, Asian, and minority-ethnic renters, renters with children, renters on low incomes, and renters who have lost income during the pandemic are struggling disproportionately. The JRF’s recommendations include increasing the funding for Discretionary Housing Payments, and building more social housing for rent.
Anniversary of Universities Tests Act is marked
THE 150th anniversary of the passing of the Universities Tests Act “represents a critical juncture at which to reflect on the long march towards greater equality, diversity, and inclusion”in the University of Oxford, the director of the University’s Centre for Religion and Culture, Professor Anthony G. Reddie, has said. The passing of the Tests Act, on 16 June 1871, ended barriers to non-Anglicans which dated from 1581. It laid down that no person taking any degree other than a degree in divinity, of holding lay academical or collegiate office, should be required to subscribe to any article or formulary of faith.
Gambling reform will benefit economy, says Dr Smith
MEASURES to reduce harm caused by gambling would also bring economic benefits, a letter published in The Times last week, signed by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, says. The letter refers to a report published this month by NERA Economic consulting, on behalf of the cross-party Peers for Gambling Reform group, of which Dr Smith is Vice-Chair. “Thousands of lives are ruined by gambling-related harm,” the letter says. “The Government now needs to expedite legislation, which will introduce limits on online stake sizes and play speed, affordability checks for online play, a mandatory levy for gambling operators, the classification of video game loot boxes as gambling, and a ban on direct sponsorship by gambling operators. We urge the Government not to delay.”
Clean for Good receives Living Wage award
THE Living Wage Foundation has given an award to Clean for Good, an ethical cleaning company founded in 2017 (News, 13 October 2017), for its leadership in promoting the Living Wage in the cleaning sector. Clean for Good was awarded the “Against all odds” award on Wednesday evening at the Living Wage Champions Awards. The managing director of Clean for Good, Tim Thorlby, said: “We are proud to be a part of the living wage movement — it is a very practical way to impact positively on people’s lives. We have proved that a cleaning company can pay the Living Wage all of the time and be commercially viable. We look forward to the day when the rest of the cleaning sector in the UK follows suit, and we make Living Wage cleaning the norm.”