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UK news in brief

07 October 2022


Sir Philip Rutnam to chair National Churches Trust

A FORMER senior civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, is the new chairman of the National Churches Trust (NCT), it was announced last week. Sir Philip was Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport from 2012 to 2017, and at the Home Office from 2017 until 2020. He subsequently lodged a claim of unfair dismissal against the Home Office, which was settled out of court in 2021. Sir Philip said last week that many churches were struggling to find the money they needed to remain open and in good repair. “The Church of England alone estimates that it has a £1-billion repair bill for its parish churches. I know the immense community contribution that churches make to the UK and to local communities.”

Interview to appear shortly


Ring bells on eve of COP27, churches are urged

THE Archbishop of York is supporting a campaign for the ringing of church and cathedral bells on Saturday 5 November, two days before the COP27 climate summit opens in Egypt. The campaign, “Ring out for Climate!”, is organised by a Christian Aid volunteer. Archbishop Cottrell said that, since COP26 last year, “I’m not sure many changes have yet been made to combat the climate emergency.” The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, the C of E’s lead bishop for the environment, also backed the campaign. Last year, more than 1000 bells were rung out on the eve of COP26 in Glasgow (News, 22 October 2021).


Market volatility is a threat to farmers, charity warns

THE slump in sterling last week will harm the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries, the Faitrade Foundation has warned. The organisation’s head of policy, Tim Aldred, said last week: “The dramatic fall in the pound means more bad news for Fairtrade farmers and consumers. Additional exchange-rate costs will land on fragile supply chains already struggling from the global cost-of-living crisis.” Many farmers in Africa, Asia, and South America were already in “in-work poverty”, he continued. “If the end market does not absorb this new exchange-rate hike, costs could be passed on to consumers or farmers.”


Belfast rector appears in court on fraud charges

THE Rector of St Colman’s, Dunmurry, in Belfast, the Revd Dr Adrian McLaughlin, appeared in court last week on six charges of fraud, ITV News reports. Dr McLaughlin, 48, of Church Avenue, Dunmurry, was accused of abusing his position to steal more than £10,000 from St Colman’s and from RVH Liver Group. The case was adjourned until 13 October. A statement from the diocese of Connor said: “We are aware of these proceedings. The Rector is not currently performing any duties in the parish, and we have no further comment to make at this time.”


Welsh churches support mothers in need

CHURCHES in the diocese of Llandaff, in the Church in Wales, are supporting a scheme, run by Baby Basics, to provide new mothers and families with essential items. The need was especially great among teenage mothers, asylum-seekers, and women fleeing domestic abuse, the diocese said. The diocesan senior outreach officer, Christopher Auckland, said on Monday: “As both the cost-of-living crisis escalates and we continue to provide safety to Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in particular, the need in our communities is only going to increase.” www.baby-basics.org.uk

New Chairman of Ecclesiastical Judges’ Association

JUDGE David Turner KC has succeeded Timothy Briden as chairman of the Ecclesiastical Judges’ Association, which brings together diocesan chancellors and chairs of tribunals under the Clergy Discipline Measure. Judge Turner has been a Circuit Judge and deputy High Court Judge since 2004, and has served as Chancellor of the diocese of Chester since 1998. He is a Bencher of Gray’s Inn, where he was called to the bar in 1976, taking silk in 2000. He is Deputy President of the Clergy Discipline Commission, a Reader, and a Ministry Development Review consultant in the diocese of London, where he lives.

RSCM launches digital resource for school hymns

THE Royal School of Church Music has launched a subscription-based digital resource, Hymnpact!®, which provides hymns that, it says, “are appealing to children and adults alike”. A press release says: “The hymns are suitable for use in school (in worship and curriculum settings) but are also appropriate for church congregations of all ages. Its aim is to bridge the gap between the hymns and songs commonly sung in schools and the range of hymns traditionally sung in church.” rcsm.org.uk/hymnpact

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