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UK news in brief

28 April 2023


Reminder: OneBodyOneFaith held a memorial service at Hinde Street Methodist Church, in London, on Sunday to raise awareness of the loss of life by suicide that can follow when LGBTQ+ people are excluded from Christian communities

Reminder: OneBodyOneFaith held a memorial service at Hinde Street Methodist Church, in London, on Sunday to raise awareness of the loss of life by sui...


Archbishop celebrates three years of help line

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has celebrated the “significant milestone” of three years of DailyHOPE, the telephone line launched on 26 April 2020 to support older people unable to gain access to online worship during lockdown. Originally a partnership between the Church of England, Faith in Later Life, and Connections at Holy Trinity, Claygate, it remains available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is free to call from any UK landline or mobile phone. Since the launch, more than 2.5 million of minutes have been called with a continued monthly average of 10,000 callers: 0800 804 8044.


Couple sentenced for child sexual abuse

A FORMER incumbent in the diocese of Chester, the Revd Stephen Clapham, aged 61, of Northwood Avenue, Middlewich, and Sally Shaw, 52, of Mirion Street, Crewe, with whom he was having an affair, have both been sentenced to four years for child sexual abuse. The affair began when he was Vicar of All Saints’ and St Paul, Crewe, and continued when he became Priest-in-Charge of All Saints’, Lawton. The CPS reported that they engaged in sexual activity in the presence of a child, and incited that child to become involved in their sexual activity. Indecent photographs of the child were also taken by Ms Shaw and distributed to Mr Clapham. They were arrested in 2021, and Mr Clapham was suspended from all ministerial positions. They entered guilty pleas before being sentenced on Thursday of last week. “I cannot begin to express my shame and anger for the betrayal and pain that this young person has endured,” the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Mark Tanner, said this week. “I am sincerely sorry for what they have experienced and continue to live through.”


‘Communication breakdown’ led to mass in Rome

THE Chapter of the Archbasilica of St John Lateran in Rome issued a statement expressing “deep regret” on Thursday of last week that the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, had celebrated mass at the high altar of cathedral, “in contravention of canonical norms”, on Tuesday of last week. The Chapter Vicar, Bishop Guerino Di Tora, said that this was “caused by a breakdown of communication”. Bishop Baker was in Rome with more than 30 priests for the Anglo-Catholic clergy’s triennial conference.

Founder of Riding Lights mourned

THE founder and artistic director of the Christian theatre company Riding Lights, Paul Burbridge, died on Wednesday of last week, after a short illness. He led the company, founded in York in 1977, with “unwavering vision and extraordinary creativity”, a statement from the company said. “He was an encourager, guide, mentor and friend to many, whose faith and faithfulness to God flowed into the lives of others. Riding Lights was his life’s work, his calling, and a source of deep joy to him.” In 2021, the company staged an online Passion play (Arts, 26 March 2021).

Correction. An item about a teacher (“Judge rejects claims by Christian teacher of ‘mockery’ in court”, News 8 April) contained inaccuracies for which we apologise. We mistakenly stated that Mr Burke refused to attend a court hearing; also that he was repeatedly moved in prison for his own safety. The story has been updated online.

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