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UK news in brief

21 July 2023

Lambeth Palace

Lady Williams of Elvel

Lady Williams of Elvel

Tributes to Archbishop of Canterbury’s mother

THE secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Anthony Poggo, has paid tribute to Lady Williams of Elvel, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s mother, who died on Saturday, aged 93. Bishop Poggo, speaking personally and also on behalf of the Communion, said: “I would like to assure Archbishop Justin and Mrs Caroline Welby, and their entire family, of our thoughts and prayers.” The Archbishop had, in his own tribute, spoken “of the great courage, faith, and hope shown by his late mother towards the end of her life as she knew she would soon be with God”, Bishop Pogo said. In a statement on Sunday, Archbishop Welby said: “I am the person I am in part because of her love, example, and encouragement. . . The grief we feel is a measure of the love we have shared.”



Labour advised to scrap two-child limit

THE campaign group Christians on the Left has expressed concern about the recent announcement from Labour that it would be keeping the two-child cap on benefits, should the party win the next General Election. The Conservative policy was “incompatible” with the group’s belief that ending child poverty in the UK should be a “political priority”. In a statement, Christians on the Left says that the policy “unjustly penalises children already in the greatest need of support and does not help families out of economic hardship. It is also a key driver of food-bank use, as our members in churches across the country are all too aware. While there are clearly difficult economic decisions facing any government in the coming years, we believe that ending this cap should be a priority as soon as is fiscally possible and within the first term of a Labour government.”


Next Dean of Newcastle appointed

NORTH NEWS & PICTURESThe next Dean of Newcastle, Canon Lee Batson

THE next Dean of Newcastle is to be Canon Lee Batson, the Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, announced last Friday. He succeeds the Very Revd Dr Jane Hedges, who has been Interim Dean since January, after the retirement of the Very Revd Geoff Miller last year (Gazette, 6 January, 11 November 2022). Canon Batson is currently Team Rector in the Epping District Team Ministry, Rural Dean of Epping Forest and Ongar, and World Church Partnership Officer, in Chelmsford diocese. He also serves on the diocesan board of education and chairs a large multi-academy trust. Canon Batson, who is married to Stephanie, was ordained priest in 2005, and has served all his ministry in Chelmsford diocese. He was appointed an honorary canon of Chelmsford Cathedral in 2019. He will be installed in Newcastle Cathedral on 14 October.


Former Windsor verger sentenced for child abuse

A FORMER verger at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, Clive McCleester, aged 77, has been sentenced to 16 years, at Inner London Crown Court, after pleading guilty to ten counts of child sexual abuse. The victims were 13 at the time the abuse began: the first from January 1968 to December 1970, the second between January 1986 and May 1987 when Mr McCleester was working at Southwark Cathedral. Mr McCleester, of the Hospital of St Cross, an almshouse in Winchester, was due to stand trial earlier this month, but entered guilty pleas and was released on bail until the sentencing hearing on Monday of last week, when he appeared via a video link from HM Prison Thameside. Judge Jane Rowley told him: “You were in a position of great responsibility within the hierarchy of the Church of England. You took advantage of your position of responsibility to sexually abuse young victims at the school and at the church.” A spokesperson for Southwark Cathedral described his crimes as “a grievous breach of trust, which will have lifelong effects for both his victims and their families”.


ST MARY’S, TENBYST MARY’S, TENBYSt Mary’s, Tenby, celebrates local mathematician

A MEMORIAL has been dedicated at St Mary’s, Tenby, in the diocese of St Davids, to a prominent mathematician, Robert Recorde, who was born there, c.1500-10. Recorde was a mathematician, astronomer, and doctor of physics who is best known as the inventor of the equals (=) sign. He founded the English School of Mathematics, and is also credited with bringing algebra to England. A special cake (pictured) was made to celebrate after the service on 9 July.


Diocese of London receives Eco award

THE diocese of London has received a Bronze Eco Award from the Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK. The diocese reports that more than 40 per cent (184) of its churches participate in the Eco Church scheme, and that more than 20 per cent have received awards: two gold, 17 silver, and 69 bronze. The Diocesan Creation Care Group hopes that, by 2030, every church in the diocese will be an Eco Church. The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said: “This award is the culmination of years of hard work.” Also on Monday, St Mark’s, Broomhill, and Broomhall became a Gold Eco Church: a first for the diocese of Sheffield and the 25th for a Church of England church.


Spurgeon’s celebrates centenary with first degrees

SPURGEON’S COLLEGE, South Norwood, in south-east London, has awarded its first degrees in a graduation ceremony and commissioning service at Trinity Baptist Church, in Croydon. The event also marked the centenary of the college’s move to South Norwood Hill. For the first time, the college was able to award full degrees in its own name to students, after the 2022 decision by the Office for Students to award the College Full Taught Degree Awarding Powers. The first degree awarded by the College was a posthumous Master of Theology degree to Charles Spurgeon, in recognition of his contribution to literature, evangelism, and charitable work. He created 66 charities, three of which continue: Spurgeons (Together with Families); the London Baptist Association; and Spurgeon’s College.


Adam Matthews steps down from TPI

THE chief responsible-investment officer at the Church of England Pensions Board, Adam Matthews, is stepping down as chair of the Church’s Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) from September. The TPI was established in 2017 by a coalition of the C of E’s national investing bodies and other ethically minded funds, to help investors to assess how effectively a firm is addressing the challenges of climate change (News, 13 January 2017). The next chair is to be David Russell, who is currently head of responsible investment at the Universities Superannuation Scheme.


Progressive Judaism movement to be established

THE two movements Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism are joining to become one Progressive Judaism movement. An advisory board, to be chaired by Dr Ed Kessler, will oversee the transition, to support the two chief executives — Rabbi Charley Baginsky and Rabbi Josh Levy — as they work with subgroups, synagogues, and clergy to form the vision of the new Progressive Movement and shape its implementation. The board will exist for the length of the project. The new group will represent 35 per cent of the UK Jewish population, an announcement this week said. Dr Kessler founded the Woolf Institute with the Revd Professor Martin Forward in 1998, and was appointed MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.

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