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UK news in brief

26 May 2023


From on high: The choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, sing the Ascension Day carol at noon on Thursday of last week, from the top of their chapel tower. The custom dates back to 1902

From on high: The choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, sing the Ascension Day carol at noon on Thursday of last week, from the top of their ch...

Methodist Church ‘unsafe’ for women, review says

AN INTERNAL safeguarding review says that leaders in the Methodist Church must “seek to understand why the Church continues to be unsafe” for women, according to a report in The Times on Monday. The review was leaked to the newspaper by a source who expressed concern that action wouldn’t be taken if it was not made public. The review’s author, Meg Munn, who is also acting chair of the C of E’s Independent Safeguarding Board (News, 2 May), wrote: “Some victims and survivors told me that there is a culture of sexism within the Methodist Church. In the words of one woman, the culture is ‘misogynistic and toxic’.” A spokesperson from the Methodist Church said: “The report was commissioned so we can better understand how our processes effect those involved in them, particularly how we have failed those who have not been heard when they have complained, and how we can address this behaviour when it happens. We will continue to work to make sure everyone understands abuse of any kind is not acceptable in our churches.”


Organ pipes stolen in West Sussex

POLICE are appealing for information after organ pipes were stolen from St John the Divine, Patching, near Worthing, between 12 and 13 May. Sussex Express reported that the repairs are likely to cost thousands of pounds. The Grade I listed church dates back to 1203, and is a popular spot for people walkers in the Sussex Downs, according to the churchwarden, Kath Hutchinson. “It’s quite unusual and disconcerting that these incidents are moving into our villages,” she said.


Down’s syndrome campaigner takes case to Strasbourg

HEIDI CROWTER, who is campaigning for the removal of a clause allowing abortion after 24 weeks if the child is likely to be born “seriously handicapped”, a definition which includes Down’s syndrome, has announced her intention to pursue the case at the European Court of Human Rights. In November, the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by campaigners, including Ms Crowter, who has Down’s syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, the mother of a three-year-old son with Down’s syndrome (News 28 November 2022). In a post on social media, Ms Crowter said that the UK Supreme Court had refused to hear the case. Earlier court judgments ruled that the current law does not infringe upon the human rights of the appellants.


Coronation cherry tree plucked from churchyard

A TREE planted at St George’s, Farnworth, near Bolton, has been uprooted, just a few weeks after it was planted in honour of the Coronation. Bolton News reported the churchwarden, Rob Tyler, saying that the tree would have “cast a shade over the entrance of the church. It’s not for us, but for the people coming here in the future . . . That was the idea behind it so it’s sad that someone has decided to take it.” He said that they intend to replace the tree and will take steps to ensure that it is not stolen again.


School singing programme expands to Northern Ireland

THE National Schools Singing Programme, which aims to widen opportunities for state-school students to engage with music, has expanded into Northern Ireland. On 16 May, a special service was held in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, attended by more than 500 state-school students, to mark the end of a two-month pilot involving a dozen schools in the area. The programme is funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, and in February six English cathedrals were invited to take part in the scheme (News, 27 February).


Clarification: In last week’s report on the Devamanikkam review (News, 11 May), we mentioned a CDM against the former Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd (Robert) Roy Williamson, but omitted to say that the investigation had concluded that he had no case to answer.

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