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UK news in brief

11 March 2022


Bercow was ‘furious’ at chaplain appointment

THE choice of a chaplain was at the heart of one of the bullying complaints against the former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow (above), it was revealed this week. On Tuesday, the Independent Expert Panel upheld a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards which concluded that Mr Bercow had displayed “threatening conduct” towards staff. The House of Commons chaplain is termed the Speaker’s Chaplain, and Mr Bercow allegedly complained that his favoured candidate was not chosen by the appointing panel. One of the complainants referred to in the report described Mr Bercow’s behaviour as “being ‘furious beyond the normal reaction’ with the respondent swearing at the complainant, thumping the table and waving his arms, with spittle coming from his mouth”.

Bishop of Blackburn to retire in summer

THE Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, is to retire after the Lambeth Conference in July, it was announced this week. Bishop Henderson was consecrated in October 2013, having been Archdeacon of Dorking, in Guildford diocese. In a letter to schools and parishes in the diocese, he said that he did not wish the diocese’s “Vision 2026” to be “tied too tightly to me as a person”, and that it should be “owned by the diocese”. During the vacancy, the powers of diocesan bishop will be delegated to the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North.

DUNDONALD CHURCHThe entrance to Dundonald Church’s new venue 
London church opens ‘purpose-built’ venue

DUNDONALD CHURCH, in Raynes Park, south-west London, has opened a new “purpose-built venue”, which contains a 650-seat auditorium, children’s and youth facilities, and a “Barista coffee house”. A statement from the church said that services would “offer the spiritual comfort of the traditional Christian message delivered in a contemporary setting”. Dundonald Church is a member of the Co-Mission church-planting movement, of which the church’s senior pastor, the Revd Richard Coekin, is co-director. Mr Coekin’s licence was revoked in 2006 by the then Bishop of Southwark, Dr Tom Butler, after Mr Coekin’s action in arranging “irregular ordinations” of three men in the diocese. Mr Coekin’s appeal against the ruling was subsequently upheld.

Pensions Board agrees £160m policy with Aviva

THE Church of England Pensions Board has agreed a “buy-in” policy, worth about £160 million, with Aviva, a savings, retirement, and insurance provider, Church House, Westminster, announced on Monday. “This transaction insures all previously uninsured pensioner benefits within the Defined Benefit Scheme of the Church Workers Pension Fund,” a statement said. The policy would also deliver “a guaranteed income stream which will exactly match the pensions that need to be paid to retired members”, and reduce “exposure to investment and longevity risk”. Clive Mather, who chairs the Pensions Board, said that the policy reduced the Board’s risk and helped to secure the clergy pensions.

University of Lincoln Chaplaincy receives award

THE University of Lincoln has been given an award for Chaplaincy Service of the Year by the Central England Prestige Awards, it was announced on Wednesday. A statement from the University said that the work of its multi-faith chaplaincy “increased substantially” during the pandemic. “Food-parcel deliveries to students were provided by faith communities in Lincoln, and students were also offered virtual events such as meditation and regular virtual meetings with the University team.” The multi-faith chaplaincy co-ordinator at the University of Lincoln, Subash Chellaiah, said: “The University has built a trusting community with many students regularly attending each of the wide range of events on offer. Our team plays a vital role offering a wide range of support.”

Quakers warn against replacing Human Rights Act

GOVERMENT proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act “will create two classes of humans”, Quakers in Britain have said. They were responding to a consultation on proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights, after an “independent review” of the Act was launched in December 2020 (Comment, 11 June 2021). A statement from Quakers in Britain said that its response to the consultation had warned that the Government’s proposed changes to the Act “would remove the universality of human rights, introducing inequalities in access to justice. Introducing a reward-based approach to human rights would create two classes of human — those entitled to protection of their rights and those who can have their rights violated because they are seen to have committed wrongdoing.” Quakers were particularly worried that this would undermine migrants’ rights.

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