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UK news in brief

15 December 2023


Bishop of Manchester to chair USPG

THE Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker (above), has been named as the new chair of trustees at USPG. He will take up the position in July, succeeding John Neilson, whose six-year term as chair will finish in July. USPG had a “unique and increasingly central role to play in the life of the global Church”, Dr Walker said. “Its approach to mission, which seeks to understand and value the diversity of views and experiences through a profound commitment to mutual partnership with the member Churches of the Anglican Communion is deeply inspiring.” The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts — later merged with the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa to form USPG — was founded in 1701. Over three centuries, it has sent more than 15,000 missionaries worldwide.

Bill to disestablish C of E is introduced in Upper House

THE First Reading of a Bill “to disestablish the Church of England; to make provision for the protection of freedom of religion or belief; and for connected purposes” took place in the House of Lords on Wednesday of last week. Introduced by the Liberal Democrat Lord Scriven, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, it would transfer “all the powers over faith, doctrine, liturgy, property, discipline and appointments” to the General Synod. At the reading, many voices were heard to cry “not content”, prompting the Deputy Speaker initially to call in their favour, before reversing his decision.

Countries not on track to meet climate target

THE ASCOR framework — a tool used to by the Church of England Pensions Board and others to assess countries’ progress in reducing carbon emissions — has published its first findings. Publicly available and independent, the framework is designed to help investors to assess sovereign debt from a climate-change perspective. It currently covers 25 countries responsible for almost 70 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, while the investors using it have almost £4 trillion in assets. The first set of findings concludes that only four countries have targets aligned with the Paris Agreement (limiting global warming to 1.5ºC): Bangladesh, Barbados, Kenya, and Morocco.

Linen creation goes on display at Belfast Cathedral

ST ANNE’S CATHEDRAL, BELFASTOne of the items on display at Belfast Cathedral

A NEW piece of textile art, Revive and Renew, portraying the displacement of people around the world, and how people can experience loneliness and isolation in the company of friends and family, is on display at Belfast Cathedral. The creators, Wilma Kirkpatrick and Helen O’Hare, discuss the work — part of the second Northern Ireland Linen Biennale — in a new episode of the Church of Ireland’s Inspiring Angles podcast series on YouTube. The work conveys “the outlines of people, shoulder by shoulder, strength to strength, with elements of clothing applied to create a sense of community”, a Church of Ireland press release says.


Long-standing Scottish General Synod official steps down

THE Secretary General of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod, John Stuart, is to retire next summer after 28 years in the post. The convener of the Provincial Standing Committee, Bridget Campbell, said: “No one could have given more to supporting the Scottish Episcopal Church, and our gratitude to and admiration for him cannot be measured. As well as being endlessly patient, and willing to take pains to find a consensual way forward, John’s personal kindness to all with whom he comes into contact is a Christian example to us all.” A recruitment campaign to find Mr Stuart’s successor has begun, and the position is being advertised nationally.

Yorkshire goal to double subsidised music lessons

THE Richard Shephard Music Foundation has announced its goal to double the number of children for whom it subsidises weekly music lessons to more than 10,000 by 2026. To raise funds, it took part in the Big Give Christmas Campaign, raising £10,000 by 5 December, which will be matched by the Campaign. Launched in 2021 after the death of the composer Dr Richard Shephard (Obituary, 26 March 2021), the charity is based in Yorkshire. This month, it arranged for children from primary schools and choirs in the region to demonstrate their musical skills on high streets and in other venues.

Welsh Primate praises departing First Minister

CHURCH IN WALESMark Drakeford with the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John

THE Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, has paid tribute to the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, who announced his resignation on Wednesday, after exactly five years in office. He is 69. “Mark Drakeford has carried out his task of leadership in Wales with integrity, diligence, decency, and humanity and he deserves the thanks and respect of all as he lays down his responsibilities,” Archbishop John said. “We assure him and his family of our prayers and our best wishes for the future.”

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