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UK news in brief

16 February 2024

Beata Cosgrove Photography

Foundation: the Queen visited Bath Abbey at the start of the month for a service to mark the 850th anniversary of St John’s Foundation, of which she has been patron since 2009. Originally a medieval refuge, it works with older adults and children

Foundation: the Queen visited Bath Abbey at the start of the month for a service to mark the 850th anniversary of St John’s Foundation, of which...


Films made for General Synod about Wilkinson findings

SIX documentary-style films about the findings of the Wilkinson report on the disbanding of the Church’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) (News, 15 December 2023) have been created by two General Synod members, Clive Billenness and Martin Sewell, who are due to release the short films — The Wilkinson Files — on YouTube over six days from today. In her report, Sarah Wilkinson, a barrister, concludes that a “complex matrix of reasons” led to the disbandment, and identifies the Archbishops’ Council as responsible for “structural” issues in its founding and running. A paper on the findings from the Church’s National Safeguarding Team is to be considered by the Synod in London next weekend. The aim of the film project, Mr Billenness said this week, was “to help Synod members to be as fully informed as possible” before considering the findings.


Abbey decides to repatriate Ethiopian tabot

WESTMINSTER ABBEY has agreed “in principle” to repatriate a sacred tablet from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (News, 7 September 2007), it was reported this week. The tabot — a stone tablet whose liturgical function has parallels with the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant — was looted in 1868 when British forces seized the Abyssinian fortress of Magdala. It is not on public view. A spokesperson for the Abbey told The Art Newspaper this week: “The Dean and Chapter has decided in principle that it would be appropriate to return the Ethiopian tabot to the Ethiopian Church. We are considering the best way to achieve this and we are in ongoing discussions with representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. This is a complex matter and it may take some time.”


Wolfson Foundation awards grant to Worcester Cathedral

WORCESTER CATHEDRAL has been granted £200,000 by the Wolfson Foundation towards restoring and redesigning College Yard — as part of a plan to improve the precincts, on which work has already begun. An announcement last week explained that the Yard, filled with monuments and trees, had been “plagued with car parking misuse, varying surface quality and poor signage” and was in need of modernising. The grant is to fund changes to the main north entrance to the cathedral, and to provide a new green space with improved entrance points, signage, and accessibility. Other plans include reducing parking, improving biodiversity, surface-water management, new lighting, and creating learning opportunities for visitors.


Work on Loughborough bell foundry enters second phase

THE Loughborough bell foundry John Taylor & Co has received £835,000 from the Government’s Town Fund to support the second phase of its £5-million development project to protect and regenerate its Grade II* listed buildings and museum. This second stage includes upgrades to the boardroom and entrance, and landscaping. Thought to be the last purpose-built bell foundry in Britain, it has been on the same site in Leicestershire since 1859, and has heritage dating back to the 14th century. More than 25,000 bells have been cast from the site, and are hung in more than 100 countries. Among these bells is the largest in Britain, Great Paul, in St Paul’s Cathedral. Once the project is complete, the foundry will be taken off the Heritage at Risk Register. The £3.6-billion Towns Fund was announced in January 2021.


Blackburn launches Fruitful discipleship app

A DISCIPLESHIP app, Fruitful, has been produced by the diocese of Blackburn to help younger people to learn more about Christianity and the Church. The app has been downloaded more than 1000 times since its launch last week on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Users can read, or listen to, and study the Bible and watch a new five-week Lent course given by the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Philip North. The app includes 2024 Lent Daily Devotions, a lectionary, Church of England prayers, and national online services, and promotes faith events and retreats and podcasts. The Bishop said: “Digital technology is having a wonderful impact in deepening the faith of many Christians. . . My hope and prayer is that many will come to meet with Jesus and deepen their relationship with him through the diverse resources that [Fruitful] makes available.”


St Michael’s, Newquay, offers infant formula to needy

NEWQUAY PARISH CHURCH, in Cornwall, has received funding from the charity Feed to provide infant formula to families in need. Rachel Craze, the operations manager for the Towan Blystra Benefice, of which St Michael’s is a part, told Radio Newquay last week: “As someone out of the baby-formula loop, I was beyond shocked at the cost of infant formula in the supermarkets. The tins have security tags. Formula prices have increased 25 per cent in the last two years, adding yet more pressure on families already struggling with the cost of living. This grant funding allows us to provide infant formula to those with babies under the age of one.” Families can enquire at the church during opening hours.



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