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UK news in brief

17 November 2023


The entrance to Church House, Westminster, on Great George Street, in London

The entrance to Church House, Westminster, on Great George Street, in London

New C of E director of communications

THE King’s Communication Secretary, Hannah Howard, has been appointed as the next director of communications for the Church of England. She succeeds Mark Arena, who left earlier this year. Ms Howard was previously Communications Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II. During her time in the royal household, Ms Howard was responsible for the communications strategy and media operation for the Platinum Jubilee, the late Queen’s funeral, and the Accession and Coronation of King Charles. She was appointed a Lieutenant of the Victorian Order in 2018. She previously worked for the BBC. She will take up post in January. Meanwhile, the Anglican Communion’s Director of Communications, Gavin Drake, is stepping down at the end of this month after almost five years, to develop a new publishing and media business. He had previously supported the Anglican Communion in other posts, including editor of the Anglican Communion News Service.

Disestablishment Bill to be introduced

A PRIVATE Members’ Bill to disestablish the Church of England is due to be introduced on 6 December by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven. The House of Lords ballot for Private Members’ Bills in the new session of Parliament was held on Thursday of last week. The Disestablishment of the Church of England Bill would remove the Lords Spiritual. Lord Scriven said that disestablishment was “long overdue”, and that the Church’s position in the country was “archaic and unacceptable”. The National Secular Society and Humanists UK have both welcomed the draft Bill.

University creates world-religions unit

THE official launch of the World Religions and Education Research Unit at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, is due to take place on Thursday. The unit has been created for scholars and researchers to explore the “intricate interplay” between education and religion, an announcement this week said. There are 49 members so far, including visiting, honorary, and established staff and doctoral researchers from the UK, Australia, Turkey, Israel, and Hong Kong. The unit will be co-directed by Professors Leslie J. Francis and Julian Stern.

Liverpool diocese feeds 4000 over the summer

TOGETHER LIVERPOOL, a family-engagement programme run by the diocese, provided 3834 meals to 2139 people over the summer, through its network of 12 churches and partners. Its Feast of Fun initiative, funded through small grants from the anti-poverty charity Meals and More, set up 19 activities to combat holiday hunger, including “fun days” and barbecues, holiday clubs, and family activity sessions, its latest impact report says. Almost all of the families who took part were single-parent households in receipt of free school meals (95 per cent). Two-thirds of participants were from BAME households; 42 per cent were asylum-seekers and refugees.

Long way to go toward racial justice, AMEN hears

THE Church of England still has a long road ahead towards racial justice, members of the Anglican Minority-Ethnic Network (AMEN) and its supporters heard this month. Speaking at the AMEN Living Well conference at St Matthias’s, Burley, in Leeds, the Bishop of Kirkstall, the Rt Revd Arun Arora, said: “We are far from the place of being done with making our case.” He pointed to three key areas of development for AMEN: how the GMH community could support church growth, securing sustained funding for racial justice, and having an “external focus” for AMEN. The Racial Justice Commission and other prominent groups were underfunded; so AMEN should step up, he said. Other speakers included Professor Kelly Brown Douglas (Interview, 20 October); the author of Ghost Ship, the Revd Azariah France-Williams; and the Revd Evie Vernon.

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