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UK news in brief

08 December 2023

Carlisle Cathedral

Triumph: these brownies, made by the Learning and Volunteer Officer, Ellen, were the winning treat of Carlisle Cathedral’s annual staff Bake-Off competition. All funds raised by this and Christmas Jumper Day are being donated to a local charity, Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland

Triumph: these brownies, made by the Learning and Volunteer Officer, Ellen, were the winning treat of Carlisle Cathedral’s annual staff Bake-Off compe...

Government challenged over new visa barrier

THE Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, questioned the decision to raise the salary requirement for a skilled-worker visa from £26,200 to £38,700, saying in a House of Lords debate on Tuesday that it would prevent clergy from abroad working in the C of E. Bishop Usher said that the Church “benefits from the ministry of clergy from all around the Anglican Communion”, and asked whether faith communities would be consulted about exemptions for religious workers. Responding on behalf of the Government, Lord Sharpe of Epsom said: “There is no barrier to recruiting people to the Church, as long as £38,700 is paid to them. I do not think that unreasonable, I am afraid.” The current median stipend is less than £30,000. After Bishop Usher’s intervention, the Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, posted on social media that the proposals would be likely to affect the diocese in Europe, as “transferability of clergy from here into English territorial dioceses will become even more difficult”.

Acting Dean of Leicester to become Dean


CANON Karen Rooms (right) is to be the next Dean of Leicester, having served as Acting Dean since January, after the Very Revd David Monteith’s appointment as Dean of Canterbury. Canon Rooms was previously the cathedral’s Sub-Dean and Canon Missioner. Making the announcement last Friday, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, said that it was an “exciting time” as the cathedral reopened after a two-year restoration project (News, 24 November).

Christmas parties for asylum-seekers

THE refugee charity Sanctuary Foundation is joining churches and community groups to invite 2000 refugees and asylum-seekers to Christmas parties this month. The head of Sanctuary Foundation, Dr Krish Kandiah, said that they wanted to counter “negative rhetoric” around migration and asylum, and new arrivals “feeling less and less welcome in our nation”. Businesses have donated food for the events, which will be held in 40 locations around the UK.

Isle of Man
churches register for same-sex marriages

TWO Methodist churches in Douglas, Isle of Man, have become the first churches on the island to register their buildings for same-sex marriages. The District’s equality, diversity, and inclusion officer, Pam Gold, said: “Many LGBT people don’t go to church as they do not feel welcomed. We wanted to change that, to make ourselves visible and let them know we would love them to be part of our community.” In 2021, the Methodist Conference voted to permit its ministers to perform same-sex marriages in Methodist church buildings (News, 2 July 2021).

New Shadow Faith Minister is C of E priest

THE Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has appointed a Church of England priest, Baroness Sherlock, as the new Shadow Faith Minister. Lady Sherlock has been a member of the House of Lords since 2010, and was ordained priest in 2019. She is a self-supporting Associate Minister of St Nicholas’s, Durham, and became a Priest-Vicar of Westminster Abbey last year. In Parliament, she has served as a spokesperson on work, pensions, and education.

Catholic Union reports impact of lockdowns

IN A survey of almost 1000 Roman Catholics, 62 per cent said that their physical or mental health had been affected by the closure of churches during Covid lockdowns, while 90 per cent said that places of worship should have been deemed an “essential” service. One respondent described the closure of their church as “one of the most distressing experiences of my life”. The president of the Catholic Union, Baroness Hollins, described the results as “shocking”.

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