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UK news in brief

28 January 2022


Eric Gill’s St John the Baptist above the south door of Guildford Cathedral

Eric Gill’s St John the Baptist above the south door of Guildford Cathedral

Eric Gill’s work under review in Guildford

SCULPTURES by Eric Gill at Guildford Cathedral may need the addition of a “new interpretation”, the head of development, Nicola Pratt, told The Daily Telegraph this month. His statues of St John the Baptist and Christ on the Cross, adorning the exterior of the cathedral, are among several of his artworks for Church of England churches. A protester attacked his sculpture of Ariel and Prospero at Broadcasting House in London this month. A 1989 biography of Gill by Fiona MacCarthy revealed that he had documented in his diaries the sexual abuse of two of his daughters and incestuous relationships with his sisters. According to the Telegraph, a Church House spokesman described Eric Gill’s crimes as “abhorrent”. Lists of his church art existed, giving parishes and cathedrals the opportunity to review them, the spokesman said.

CCT reports demand for in-person gatherings

THE chief executive of the Christian Conference Trust, John Heasman, reported “a move away from online events back to ‘in person’ conferences and meetings” this week. “We are all grateful for the way technology has helped us in our ministries over the past couple of years, but essentially we are all relationship people who are designed to spend time together,” he said. The trust, which runs three centres, reports that half of all recent enquiries are from churches and organisations that have not visited their centres before. It has invested in additional meeting spaces and hospitality staff.

Independent Safeguarding Board complete

THE third and final member of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board is Steve Reeves, a former director of child safeguarding at Save the Children, it was announced on Monday. He joins the chair, Professor Maggie Atkinson, and the survivor advocate Jasvinder Sanghera CBE (News, 30 September 2021). The ISB was established after a unanimous vote by the Archbishops’ Council in favour of independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team (News, 26 February 2021). An update for next month’s General Synod meeting (GS 2244) says that “in spite of the C of E’s explicit and repeated acceptance of IICSA’s and many other vital reports, survivors and complainants of all ages routinely approach ISB members with the following, all-too-common, threads”, including “slow, institutionally defensive responses, with the person making a disclosure often disbelieved”.

Dean of Lichfield backs new housing

PLANS to create a hotel and 29 new homes on land near Lichfield Cathedral, recommended for rejection in a report to Lichfield District Council, have been defended by the Dean, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber. The report to the planning committee warned of “a poorly articulated and visually cramped form of development”, which would “cause harm to the significance of heritage assets”, including the cathedral, Lichfield Live reports. But, on Sunday, the news website quoted Dean Dorber querying the findings: “The cathedral wasn’t officially asked for a view and had we been consulted we’d have said we welcome it. We’ve got architectural monotony in Lichfield — red brick, glass and grey steel. Socially too, having us become the retirement capital of England is disastrous. Planners need to wake up and think new thoughts.” The Dean confirmed this week that a letter had been written to the planning department “outlining our advocacy of the scheme”.

New royal patron for Cathedral Music Trust

THE Cathedral Music Trust announced that the Duchess of Gloucester was its new Royal Patron on Monday, after a celebratory choral evensong in St Paul’s Cathedral. Since 2016, the Duchess has supported the Trust’s Diamond Fund for Choristers, which supports support choristers’ training and recruitment.

UKME/GMH clergy encouraged to register for C of E election

CLERGY who identify as being of UK minority-ethnic/global-majority heritage (UKME/GMH) have until Tuesday (1 February) to register as electors of the “participant observers” who are in future to attend meetings of the House of Bishops. The House’s standing committee agreed this month that at least ten such clergy will be present at its meetings, to address a lack of ethnic diversity (News, 21 January). Beside the four existing members of the House, they will include three suffragans and three priests elected by serving UKME/GMH clergy. Any person who is on the list of electors and who has been ordained for at least five years can be nominated for election: email clerk@churchofengland.org

Nurse plans to sue trust over training

A NURSE training to become a psychotherapist on a course run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign, “Stand up to Woke”, to raise money to take legal action against the trust “on the grounds of racial discrimination, religious discrimination, breach of contract, harassment, bullying, and abuse of power”. The nurse, Amy Gallagher, 33, from south London, claims that in November 2020, as part of the course, she attended a lecture about race and racism during which the lecturer “spoke negatively about Christianity and when I questioned this, I was told that Christianity was racist because it is European.” She complained, but a spokesperson for the trust told the Mail on Sunday last week: “This matter has been addressed through our formal complaints process which has now concluded.”

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