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UK news in brief

04 August 2023


The stone tombs are revealed in the quire of Exeter Cathedral

The stone tombs are revealed in the quire of Exeter Cathedral

Tombs found in Exeter Cathedral dig

STONE tombs, a crypt, and the foundations of the original high altar are among the discoveries of archaeologists investigating the quire of Exeter Cathedral. The tombs have been identified as those of two former Bishops, William Brewer of the 13th century, and the 12th-century William Warelwast, who was a nephew of William the Conqueror. The quire project is funded by the cathedral’s 2020s Development Appeal, supported by the Valencia Communities Fund. The archaeological investigations are now concluding; specialist contractors are to take over next week to complete essential building conservation, reduce the carbon footprint of the building with an underfloor heating system, and lay a new “Jubilee Floor” tile design using Devon stone, based on the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78).


York suffragans announce their retirement

TWO suffragan bishops in the diocese of York — the Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, and the Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Revd Paul Ferguson — are both to retire in July 2024. Each will have served for ten years since their consecration together by Lord Sentamu, when he was Archbishop, in York Minster, in July 2014. Brought up in Uganda, Dr Thomson trained at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, was ordained priest in 1986, and served his title at All Saints’, Ecclesall Bierlow, in Sheffield diocese. He was a tutor of St Paul’s College, in what was then Grahamstown, now Makhanda, in South Africa, and an assistant lecturer at Rhodes University. He came back to Sheffield diocese in 1993, as Vicar of St Mary’s, Doncaster, before serving as the Diocesan Director of Ministry. He is a keen cyclist who has become known as “the biking Bishop of Selby”. Bishop Ferguson was also ordained priest in 1986, and trained at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his title at St Mary Without-the-Walls, Chester, before moving to Westminster Abbey as first Sacrist and Chaplain, and then Precentor. He then became Canon Precentor of York Minster, Archdeacon of Cleveland, and Diocesan Warden of Readers. He has chaired the diocesan board of education, and is an assistant bishop in Sodor & Man diocese.


Children’s Society welcomes High Court ruling

THIS week’s High Court ruling that the Government’s “routine” housing of unaccompanied child asylum-seekers in hotels is unlawful has been welcomed by the Children’s Society. The charity’s policy and practice adviser, Marieke Widmann, said that the ruling “reaffirms that UK child-protection laws cover all children and young people here, and we are grateful to ECPAT UK for bringing this much-needed legal challenge. We welcome the Court’s judgment, calling out the Home Office’s unlawful approach. These children, far from their homes and without guardians, have been unjustly denied safety.” The High Court had said that children could be placed in hotels for “very short periods in true emergency situations”, but not “systematically or routinely”. The Home Office told the BBC that it had “no option” but to house children temporarily in hotels.


Group appointed to carry out next safeguarding audits

THE Archbishops’ Council has appointed the INEQE Safeguarding Group to carry out the second round of independent safeguarding audits commissioned in 2015 as part of a national programme covering Church of England dioceses, cathedrals, and palaces (News, 4 April 2019). The first phase was carried out by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and included Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces (News, 11 February 2022). The second phase will take four years to complete, an update published on Wednesday says. “As part of their audits, INEQE will speak with children and vulnerable adults in each diocese (including victims and survivors of abuse).” The Bishop of Stepney, Dr Joanne Grenfell, who is the lead safeguarding bishop, said: “It is important we are open to external scrutiny in our safeguarding work and, as with the previous audits by SCIE, there will be lessons to learn for all of us.” The director of operations for INEQE, Hannah Paul, said: “We look forward to working with the entire church community.”


Salvation Army calls for review of housing laws

THE Salvation Army has called on the Government to amend housing legislation to prevent rising homelessness in London. Currently, it says, councils have a duty to find accommodation for people who are homeless, but only if they are classed as in priority need, such as pregnant women or those with dependants. Figures released by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network on Monday found that 3272 individuals were sleeping rough in the capital between April and June: nine per cent more than in the same period in 2022. The director of the Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services Unit, Nick Redmore, said that it was “unbelievable” that people living on the streets were not prioritised by legislation. “We understand that public services are under huge financial pressure at the moment, but it’s not acceptable to leave destitute people on the streets and in harm’s way. It’s for the Government to ensure local authorities have the funding and guidance they need to meet their obligations.”


Welby recalls Lambeth Conference hospitality

ON THE anniversary of the opening of last year’s Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Christians to join the calls that were discussed. In a video message released last week, he said that, while the gathering had “had its tense moments”, it was also “rich in prayer and conversation” — including on the theme of hospitality. “It may have been over meals together, in worship sessions, or Bible study groups. Or at times, during some of our more challenging conversations.” He concluded: “One year on from the conference, my invitation is this: Add your voice to the Calls. Whether as a church, a youth group, a college or religious community, a chaplaincy. I hope you will join us on the journey. . . People around the world face so many issues which need the transformation that comes only from the power of God in Jesus Christ. May Anglicans far and wide join us for these discussions.”


Keswick appoints new Ministry Director

KESWICK MINISTRIES has appointed Mark Ellis, director of Christian Unions Ireland, as its new Ministry Director, from next month. He also has experience of overseas mission work with OMF International. A statement from Keswick Ministries, which runs the annual Keswick Convention, said: “This is an exciting time . . . as we make the most of the wonderful Pencil Factory site, [and] continue to develop year-round teaching and training to bless the church in the UK and beyond.”

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