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UK news in brief

by
11 February 2022

BCGC

Archbishop Welby with members of the Belfast Community Gospel Choir, on Sunday, during the Four Corners Festival

Archbishop Welby with members of the Belfast Community Gospel Choir, on Sunday, during the Four Corners Festival

Welby: Peacemaking requires ‘risk and sacrifice’

RECONCILIATION cannot be imposed by outsiders, but must be “done by the people who have experienced conflict”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. He was speaking at a service held in the Grosvenor Hall, Belfast, on Sunday evening, during the Four Corners Festival, which was broadcast on Radio Ulster. He commended the people of Northern Ireland for making “the hard choices of forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation. . . With enormous courage, you offer us this gift of witness to the God who can turn any dead end into a turning point.” The Archbishop also drew on examples of reconciliation work in Coventry and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The people who have been hurt, who have been wounded and deeply scarred by conflict are the people who have to make peace. It takes risk and sacrifice,” he said. With reference to Pope Francis’s retreat to South Sudan, he said: “He got on his knees, and he begged the leaders of South Sudan to make peace. And the journey of peace took on a new dimension. For peace requires risk and sacrifice.”

 

Churches can help UK to ‘level up’ says Warner

THE government White Paper Levelling Up, published last week (News, 4 February), does not recognise “the vital importance of the social capital of faith groups”, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has said. He was speaking in the House of Lords on Monday during a debate on the White Paper. Faith groups, including the Church, “make a significant contribution not only to sustaining life in . . . areas of deprivation, but to sustaining hope for a better future”, he said. Responding for the Government, Lord Greenhalgh said that recognition of “the importance of working with faith groups and the wider community in helping to level up the country” was “tucked away in the technical annexe” of the White Paper, and “needs to be brought out”.

 

The Revd David Fletcher dies, aged 89

THE Revd David Fletcher — a former trustee of the Titus Trust and employee of Scripture Union, who was informed of the abuse of John Smyth, but failed to alert the police (News, 27 August 2021) — has died, aged 89, of cancer. A statement from a group of Smyth’s victims, quoted in The Daily Telegraph, said: “There are now things we will never know, that we deserved to know. David Fletcher leads a long, long list of people who knew about Smyth over 40 years, failed to stop him, and failed to disclose the abuse to authorities.” He was the brother of the Revd Jonathan Fletcher, a former Minister of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgway, in Wimbledon, who was alleged to have carried out naked beatings and massages, as well as spiritual abuse (News, 26 March 2021).

 

Church Commissioners join digital network

THE Church Commissioners have joined a new network, Investors for a Sustainable Digital Economy (ISDE), “to engage with, and steward companies through, digital governance best practices — an urgent concern in an increasingly digitalized society”, a statement issued by Church House last week said. It continued: “Data use, machine learning algorithms, robotics, future of work, bioethics and other areas will be the focus of this pioneering forum of investment professionals.” ISDE has been established by Creating Future Us, a non-profit company.

 

Driver who damaged graveyard banned for three years

A MAN who crashed into a church building in Stafford and damaged memorial stones in the graveyard has been disqualified from driving for three years. Ian Carr, 35, of Holmcroft Road, Stafford, hit St Bertelin’s, also on Holmcroft Road, in the early hours of 15 January, while being pursued by police officers after he failed to stop at a red light. No one was injured, but several memorial gravestones were destroyed, reports say. Mr Carr was subsequently arrested and charged with driving offences, to which he pleaded guilty at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. PC Michael Sheard, of Staffordshire Police, said on Wednesday: “Carr is clearly a reckless and dangerous driver who could have caused serious injury or worse to anyone unfortunate enough to encounter him on 15 January. I welcome the court’s decision to ban Carr for three years as our roads have no place for such inexpiable behaviour.”

 

Chessun urges growth of lay ministries in Southwark

THE Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, has urged clergy and lay leaders in his diocese to prioritise lay ministry. In a letter on Wednesday, he refers to the “Season of Lay Ministries”, launched in the diocese last September. “We have been delighted in the interest that people have shown in our new affirmed, commissioned and licensed ministries. These are lay pioneers, children, young people and family workers, and licensed pastoral ministers.” He announced that he was dedicating the four weeks from 19 June to 10 July to exploring lay ministry further.

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