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UK news in brief

by
02 July 2021

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St Albans Cathedral

New head: The Sub-Dean of St Albans Cathedral, Canon Abi Thompson, with the head of St Alban at the Alban Street Festival, last weekend. On Tuesday, Canon Thompson was announced as the next Dean of Sheffield, and will take up the post in September. She said: “I am of course excited, but also a little daunted.” The previous Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, announced his resignation last year (News, 9 October 2020), referring to the “tremendous pressure” he had been under since the Cathedral Chapter announced that it would be disbanding the choir — a decision which Dean Bradley defended (News, 24 July 2020)

New head: The Sub-Dean of St Albans Cathedral, Canon Abi Thompson, with the head of St Alban at the Alban Street Festival, last weekend. On Tuesday, Canon Thompson was announced as the next Dean of Sheffield, and will take up the post in September. She said: “I am of course excited, but also a little daunted.” The previous Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, announced his resignation last year (News, 9 October 2020), referring to the “tremendous pressure” he had been under since the Cathedral Chapter announced that it would be disbanding the choir — a decision which Dean Bradley defended (News, 24 July 2020)

 

Chief of staff appointed for Archbishop of York

THE Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey since 2015, the Ven. Mark Steadman, has been appointed to be the next Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of York. He succeeds Canon Malcolm Macnaughton, who left in December 2019 to become the Suffragan Bishop of Repton. The position was advertised in April with a competitive salary in the region of £90,000 per annum, which attracted criticism because it coincided with the announcement of parish cutbacks (Press, 9 April). Archdeacon Steadman served as Acting Dean of Lincoln Cathedral from November 2019 to March 2020 and Interim Diocesan Secretary from October 2017 to July 2018. A former barrister, he was ordained in 2002, served a curacy at St Mary’s, Portsea, and was Priest-in-Charge of St Philip’s, Camberwell from 2005 to 2011; Area Dean of Bermondsey from 2008 to 2011; and Chaplain to the Bishop of Southwark from 2010 to 2015.

 

Dr Penberthy signed off work after Tory comments

THE Bishop of St Davids in the Church in Wales, Dr Joanna Penberthy, has been signed off work for at least a month on the advice of her doctor, the diocese announced on 19 June. The announcement was made on the same day as the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in a letter that he was “deeply embarrassed” by the “unacceptable” comments made by Dr Penberthy about members and supporters of the Conservative Party (News, 4 June; Comment, 11 June). The announcement said: “Please be assured that the Bench of Bishops . . . are engaging with both Welsh and UK Governments to ensure that Bishop Joanna’s apology is heard and that steps are taken to restore damaged relationships.”

 

Church Army launches new survey on Church’s future

A NEW survey to analyse the experience of churchgoers during the pandemic has been commissioned by the Church Army. Initial results suggest that, while some worshippers are enthusiastic about hybrid worship (both in-person and online), others are “weary of the screen” which is “not the same as being there”. A notice from the Church Army states: “We want to hear the stories of those who are starting to explore church and may not have experienced it prior to March 2020. . . Secondly, we want to hear from those on the margins of online church.” bit.ly/church-army-survey

 

Open Table: LGBT Christians ‘need more support’

LGBT Christians have been adversely affected by national lockdowns, because they have lacked access to in-person emotional and spiritual support, a report from the Open Table Network (OTN) suggests. OTN became a charity in March; it currently supports 18 LGBT church communities. “These are all people who have experienced prejudice and exclusion at home, in the workplace, local community, but especially in faith communities,” its report, prepared by Civil Society Consulting, explains. It recommends increasing OTN communities over the next three to five years and improving the running of existing groups to better “welcome, affirm and empower” LBGT Christians. This should be done by focusing on well-being, reduced social isolation, safe spaces, faith, and volunteering, it says.

 

Minister of Emmanuel, Wimbledon, on sick leave

THE minister of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgway, Wimbledon, since 2013, the Revd Robin Weekes, is to take a leave of absence “for several months from 1 July 2021 due to ill-health”, the trustees, elders, and ministry team have announced. In March, a lessons-learnt review carried out by the independent Christian safeguarding charity Thirtyone:eight concluded that a culture of fear at the church and in the wider conservative Evangelical constituency prevented the reporting of safeguarding concerns about the Revd Jonathan Fletcher (News, 23 March). A notice on the church website states: “The abusive conduct of our previous minister and relentless speculation on social media over a prolonged period of time unsurprisingly have had a detrimental effect on Robin’s health.”

 

Ordinand secures visa just in time for curacy

AUGUSTINE TANNER-IHM has secured a visa days before his ordination to the priesthood. In May, Mr Tanner-Ihm, who is African-American but has lived in the UK for the past nine years, was invited to serve his title post at St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury, in the diocese of Manchester, conditional on obtaining a visa. He tweeted on Tuesday: “Only a few days before ordination and I finally got my visa. . . That was cutting it very close.” He was the winner of the 2020 Theology Slam competition, during which he spoke of being told by a diocesan director of ordinands that he would not suit a curacy in a “monochrome white working-class, where you might feel uncomfortable” (News, 26 June 2020; Letters, 18 June).

 

Green Church Showcase: still time to apply

THERE are less than three weeks to go to get your application in for the Green Church Showcase. We need the stories of the actions you have taken to combat climate change. Deadline: 21 July. For more details click here: churchtimes.co.uk/green-church-showcase

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