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UK news in brief

19 May 2023


Hair-raising: the Dean of Blackburn, the Very Revd Peter Howell-Jones, has his head shaved in the cathedral on Sunday, to raise funds for East Lancashire Hospice

Hair-raising: the Dean of Blackburn, the Very Revd Peter Howell-Jones, has his head shaved in the cathedral on Sunday, to raise funds for East Lancash...


‘Soundings made’ before Edmonton decision

THE Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, has sought to reassure clergy about the arrangements for episcopal oversight in the Edmonton Area, after it was announced that the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, would take charge until the appointment of a new Area Bishop. Bishop Baker provides episcopal ministry in London and Southwark dioceses to congregations that have a theological objection to the ministry of a woman bishop. On Monday, Bishop Mullally wrote to clergy in the Edmonton Area that Bishop Baker was “very happy to support both male and female clergy in any way you would find helpful in your parish and chaplaincy ministry”. She said that “soundings were taken from a range of senior clergy in the area before the arrangement was agreed,” and that she was available if anyone felt “the need of a conversation”. The present Area Bishop, the Rt Revd Rob Wickham, is due to leave this summer to become the next chief executive of the Church Urban Fund (News, 21 February).


Archbishop Welby pays augmented speeding fine

THE Archbishop of Canterbury was fined £510, and three points were added to his driving licence on Wednesday of last week, after being recorded driving at 25 mph in a 20-mph zone near Lambeth Palace on 2 October last. A spokesperson said that Archbishop Welby had “tried to resolve this and pay the fine three times. He has all the paperwork to prove that he has tried to pay. Admin. errors seem to be causing problems.”


C of E investors urge Amazon to recognise unions

CCLA Investment Management, which invests money on behalf of almost 12,000 C of E bodies, including parishes, dioceses, and cathedrals, has called on the Amazon group to recognise the unionisation of workers in the company’s Coventry warehouse. The Telegraph reported that CCLA wrote to Amazon last Friday urging the company to recognise the GMB union after it reached the 51-per-cent threshold of members for mandatory recognition. CCLA is said to have demanded that Amazon conduct an “independent, third-party assessment” of whether the company is compliant with employment laws and the right to freedom of association. CCLA is thought to hold Amazon shares worth more than £500 million among the £14 billion of assets under its management. An Amazon spokesperson was reported as saying: “We offer competitive pay, comprehensive benefits, opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.”


Allow us to explain, say protesters outside court

THE Revd Sue Parfitt, a retired priest from Bristol, has joined a group outside the Inner London Crown Court protesting against the decision of a judge, Silas Reid, to prevent climate activists’ explaining the motivation behind their actions in court. The orders by Judge Reid are being challenged in the Court of Appeal. Ms Parfitt, with other protesters, asserts that such restrictions infringe the principle that a jury can acquit a defendant even if it believes that they are technically guilty of the crime. Acquittals have occurred in some jury trials of climate protesters after they were permitted to explain their motivation. In March, more than 120 lawyers signed a declaration that they would refuse under present conditions to prosecute cases involving climate protesters.


Kent cleric calls in police after social-media comments

THE Vicar of St Margaret’s, Rainham, in Kent, the Revd Nathan Ward, has informed police about “abusive and personal” comments about him made on Facebook, after Orchard Nursery, which is based in a building owned by the church, closed, owing to increasing costs, including rent. Mr Ward was reported by Kent Online as saying that the church had not been involved in the decision, but that some of the criticism levelled at him and a family member had been “expressed in terms which were neither acceptable nor helpful”, and that he had referred it to Kent police.


Graffiti prompt police’s heritage-watch plan

POLICE in Gloucestershire have launched a Heritage Watch scheme to protect churches and historic monuments and artefacts in the region from criminal activity. The scheme was launched last week, in partnership with Cheltenham Minster, Cheltenham Civic Society, Historic England, and the Borough of Cheltenham, after the Grade-I listed Minster suffering “lasting damage” from graffiti. The Rector of Cheltenham, the Revd Richard Coombs, told the BBC: “This is the oldest building in Cheltenham, and it’s extraordinary that people think they can just come in and spray all sorts of things here.” Removing it had created an “enormous” cost to the church because of the age of the walls, he said. Heritage crime includes deliberate damage, theft of architectural fabric, such as metal and stone, arson, unlawful metal-detecting, and anti-social behaviour, such as writing graffiti and carrying out unauthorised works.

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