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UK news in brief

10 May 2024


Luston Methodist Chapel

Luston Methodist Chapel


Luston ecumenical partnership celebrates 50 years

THE Luston Methodist Chapel, in Hereford diocese, is this month celebrating 50 years of ecumenical worship. In 1974, the chapel, located in a rural community, was facing falling attendance figures and struggling to stay open and viable, while the nearest C of E church, St Peter and St Paul, at Eye, about a mile down a muddy lane, was often inaccessible for some Anglican worshippers from the village. The Revd Duncan Philips, then Vicar of Eye, suggested that ministers from both Churches work together to keep the chapel open, and a system of alternating weekly services began. It continues to this day, with the support of the Leominster Methodist and C of E ministry teams. The anniversary is being celebrated on Saturday 26 May with a morning walk up the lane from the village pump in Luston to the church at Eye, followed by a walk across the fields to the chapel for coffee and cakes. The celebrations will continue on the Sunday at the chapel, where the Methodist Superintendent, the Revd Richard Hall, will lead a special service.


House of Keys votes to end episcopal Tynwald vote

THE House of Keys, on the Isle of Man, has voted to remove the Bishop of Sodor & Man’s right to vote in the Tynwald (News, 3 November 2023), the BBC reports. The Bishop is one of the three ex-officio members of the Legislative Council, the upper chamber of the Tynwald. The Isle of Man Constitution Bill 2023, a Private Members’ Bill brought by Lawrie Hooper late last year (News, 10 November 2023), had its Third Reading on Tuesday. Mr Hooper said that the proposed law would make the Tynwald “more democratically accountable”. It does not remove the Bishop’s seat from the Legislative Council, which will now examine the legislation. The seat is currently vacant after the retirement of the Rt Revd Peter Eagles, in October. There had been two previous attempts to remove the vote during his six-year tenure.


Chris Brain trial relocated ‘to ensure fairness’

THE trial of Chris Brain, who founded the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS), in Sheffield, has been moved from the city, where the alleged offences occurred, because of potential links to local judges, The Times reported on Monday. Last week, Mr Brain, 66, of Park Road, Wilmslow, in Cheshire, pleaded not guilty at the Inner London Crown Court to one charge of rape and 33 counts of indecent assault relating to 11 women. A spokeswoman for the judiciary told the paper that the trial had been relocated to London on the recommendation of the Recorder of Sheffield, Jeremy Richardson KC, “to ensure a fair trial can take place”. She said: “It could not properly be heard in Sheffield, as there was a risk that someone connected to the case who may be a witness, or to whom reference may be made in the trial, is a person known to some of the judges in Sheffield.” The offences are alleged to have been committed between 1981 and 1995, when the rave-culture-style Evangelical initiative NOS attracted hundreds of young followers. Mr Brain, who was charged in February (News, 9 February), and released on unconditional bail last week, will next appear in court for a case-management hearing on 10 June 2024. His trial is scheduled to begin at the same court on 30 June 2025.


Bishop of Dover thanks Bibby Stockholm protesters

THE Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, has praised the protesters who last month blocked a Home Office coach believed to be moving asylum-seekers from Margate, in the diocese of Canterbury, to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset, The Guardian reports. In late April, a government-commissioned coach attempted to relocate to the barge 22 men from Afghanistan and Pakistan who had been living in Margate for seven months, but was blocked by protesters. On Thursday of last week, The Guardian reported that 15 of the 22 had received letters from the Home Office saying that they would no longer be moved. Bishop Hudson-Wilkin thanked “the local people who have stood up for those housed on their doorstep”. A Home Office spokesperson said: “Accommodation is allocated to asylum-seekers on a no-choice basis and asylum-seekers can make representations if they believe they are unsuitable to be moved to the Bibby Stockholm, which are considered in full before any decision is made.”


Christian family-work charities merge

THE UK Christian charities Safe Families and Home for Good are merging to form one charity, while retaining their separate names, it was announced on Tuesday. The legal aspects of the merger are due to be completed by the autumn. The charities both work to prevent children and young people from entering the care system by supporting families. When children do enter care, to ensure safe homes are available through fostering, adoption, and supported lodgings for teenagers.

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