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UK news in brief

04 November 2022

Portrait of Sir Christopher Wren by Godfrey Kneller

Portrait of Sir Christopher Wren by Godfrey Kneller

City of London to celebrate Wren tercentenary

A YEAR-LONG education and conservation programme in the churches of the Square Mile in London will mark 300 years since the death of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). The programme was awarded a £241,000 grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Wren was a mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and anatomist, as well as the architect of new churches including the new St Paul’s, after their destruction in the Great Fire of London. School initiatives are to include pupils’ building a replica of the dome of St Paul’s, a “Wrenathon” of choirs across the City, and an exploration of his work through conservation, heritage, and musical activities.


Plan to combine NCIs discussed

PLANS to simplify the governance structures of the national church institutions into one body have been discussed by the new National Church Governance Project Board. The board, chaired by the former Lord Chancellor Sir David Lidington, was set up this year to take forward the work of the Governance Review Group, whose report, presented to the General Synod in February, called for a shake-up of the Church of England’s governance and structures (News, 18 February). Last month, the board met to discuss “details of a how network of committees could be set up to oversee and support the day-to-day work of the Church of England National Services”, a notice on the C of E website on Wednesday said.


Dr Martyn Percy’s legal action against ISB fails

THE former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martyn Percy, has failed in his attempt to sue the Independent Safeguarding Board for the sum of £7000, which he said that he had spent on legal fees defending himself against “misrepresentations”. The Oxford Mail reported that, at the Oxford County Court last Friday, District Judge Richard Lumb said that the Dean’s action had been brought under the wrong process: the board was not a legal entity against which a legal claim could be brought, the court heard. The Judge suggested that any similar attempt was liable to be “doomed to failure”. Dr Percy was ordered to pay costs of £4500.


Churchgoer sentenced to life for murder

A CHRISTIAN trained in human dissection, Jemma Mitchell, 38, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of murdering 67-year-old Mee Kuen Chong, a friend from her church. Ms Chong was reported missing from her home in Wembley, London, on 11 June. Her decapitated body was found more than 200 miles away in woods near Salcombe, Devon, 16 days later (News, 14 October). Judge Richard Marks KC was broadcast handing down his sentence to Mitchell at the Old Bailey — only the second time cameras have been allowed into an English Crown Court to record a sentencing. “I am driven to the conclusion that you are extremely devious,” he said. “There is the chilling aspect of what you did to and with her body after you killed her.”


CRE 2023 to be held in Birmingham

THE next Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) will be held at Cranmore Park, Birmingham, in 2023 (8-9 November), the organisers announced this week. The 2022 CRE, which had been scheduled for the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool, was cancelled last month after the city won its bid to host the next Eurovision Song Contest in the same venue that weekend (News, 14 October).


Bishops regret proposed cuts to BBC local radio

BISHOPS have expressed their disappointment at planned cuts to BBC local radio output, announced on Monday. Under the proposals, about which the culture minister Julia Lopez has expressed concern, the 39 local radio stations in England would share more programming. On Twitter, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, described the news as “really depressing” — particularly for BBC Norfolk’s “flagship Sunday morning show which carries such important news, debate and discussion about/from faith communities. . . Needs saving.” The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, said that BBC Cornwall was “so important for Cornwall’s sense of self, too. A great shame. The former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Tweeted: “This is terribly sad.”


Mandatory reporting ‘negative’ says Forward in Faith

THE recommendation for mandatory reporting in the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) last month (News, 21 October) — without religious exception, including the absolute confidentiality of the seal of the confession — has “serious and negative” implications for church life, the trustees of Forward in Faith have said. In a statement, they write that they were “unaware of any evidence” that the seal had “hampered” safeguarding or that applying the duty of disclosure to the seal would lead to safeguarding improvements. The focus of the seal on the welfare of the penitent has been questioned throughout the IICSA hearings.


Stewardship launches cost-of-living appeal

THE Christian charity Stewardship has launched a Cost-of-Living Response Fund this week. The appeal for regular giving seeks to provide “long-term support for the duration of the emergency created by the current economic crisis”. Its chief executive, Stewart McCulloch, said: “Stewardship is perfectly positioned to connect givers with causes where the need is greatest. We will distribute the fund to provide emergency relief, to support food banks and debt relief centres, and to help vulnerable churches keep their doors open and their welcomes warm.”

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