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UK news in brief

by
03 May 2024

Jason Bryant

Seven cygnets swimming: Gabriel and Grace, a pair of mute swans who have made their home on the moat of the Bishop’s Palace in Wells for the past five years, have become parents. The tradition of swans at the Palace is thought to go back to the 1850s, when it is said that a bishop’s daughter first taught the swans to ring a bell at the gatehouse for food. Two bells — one just beneath the window on the left of the gatehouse, the other to the right — hang from ropes for the swans to pull

Seven cygnets swimming: Gabriel and Grace, a pair of mute swans who have made their home on the moat of the Bishop’s Palace in Wells for the past five years, have become parents. The tradition of swans at the Palace is thought to go back to the 1850s, when it is said that a bishop’s daughter first taught the swans to ring a bell at the gatehouse for food. Two bells — one just beneath the window on the left of the gatehouse, the other to the right — hang from ropes for the swans to pull

 

Archbishop of York praises church magazines

THE Archbishop of York has praised the work of church-magazine editors, as Parish Pump — an online subscription service which provides news, features, and illustrations for church magazines — celebrates its 25th birthday. The service has supported 3000 publications a month since its launch at the Christian Resources Exhibition in May 1999. The journalist Anne Coomes has edited Parish Pump throughout the quarter-century from her home near Macclesfield. In a message to celebrate the anniversary this week, Archbishop Cottrell said: “Even in a digital world, paper-based communications can help build bridges for local churches. I’m deeply appreciative of the effort put in by numerous church magazine editors.”

 

Next Walsingham Priest Administrator named

Guardians of the Shrine of Our Lady of WalsinghamFr EadonTHE next Priest Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, in Norfolk, is to be the Revd Ben Eadon CMP, the College of Guardians has announced. Fr Eadon, Vicar of St Bartholomew’s and St Paul’s, Brighton, since 2020, will succeed the Revd Kevin Smith, who has held the post since 2016, in the autumn. The Priest Administrator has day-to-day responsibility for the Shrine and its staff. Fr Eadon was ordained priest in 2012 and served his title at St Chad’s, Sunderland. He was Assistant Curate, Priest-in-Charge, and Vicar of St Symphorian’s, Durrington, in Worthing, until taking up his present appointment. The Shrine has about 10,000 residential pilgrims each year, as well as day pilgrims, tourists, and visitors. The next Master of the Guardians, it has also been announced, is a current Guardian, Prebendary Philip Barnes, Vicar of St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road, in London.

 

Former Synod member to be Bishop Ordinary

THE next Ordinary and first Bishop Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is to be the Revd David Waller, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales announced on Monday. He was appointed by Pope Francis to succeed Mgr Keith Newton, who stood down at the end of last month. Fr Waller, who is 62, was a community worker in Bradford before training for ordination at Chichester Theological College. He was ordained priest in 1992 and served his title at Aldwick, in Chichester diocese, before becoming Team Vicar of Crawley. He was on the General Synod from 2005 until 2010. He was Vicar of St Saviour’s, Walthamstow, in east London, from 2000 until 2011, when he was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Chris Brain pleads not guilty to charges of rape and assault

THE founder of the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS) in Sheffield, Chris Brain, 66, of Park Road, Wilmslow, in Cheshire, has pleaded not guilty at the Inner London Crown Court on Tuesday to one charge of rape and 33 counts of indecent assault relating to 11 women. The offences are alleged to have been committed between 1981 and 1995. He was charged in February (News, 9 February). Mr Brain, who was released on unconditional bail, will next appear at court for a case-management hearing on 10 June 2024. His trial is scheduled to begin at the same court on 30 June 2025. NOS was a rave-culture-style Evangelical initiative that attracted hundreds of young worshippers in Sheffield during the 1980s and ’90s. It collapsed in the ’90s amid claims of sexual and mental abuse. NOS was initially held in St Thomas’s, Crookes, Sheffield, before moving to Ponds Forge in the city centre.

 

Leicester diocese signs union agreement with Unite

THE diocese of Leicester has become the first diocese to sign an agreement with Unite to represent its staff, both clergy and laity, the union announced on Monday. The agreement ensures collective-bargaining rights over clergy stipends and staff pay, as well as terms and conditions for both. It was negotiated by the Church of England Clergy and Employee Advocates, which is part of Unite’s wider faith workers’ branch. The workplace representative for Leicester diocese, the Revd Peter Hobson, said: “Even when you work for God, your terms and conditions are still drawn up by human beings, and we all know that a healthy church can only be helped by healthy employment practices for its staff.”

 

Former Exeter cleric convicted of sex offences

A FORMER assistant priest in the diocese of Exeter, Julian Wheeler, 75, of Mount Raleigh Avenue, Bideford, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after being found guilty at Exeter Crown Court last Friday of 13 counts of indecent assault. He has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life. A diocesan statement confirmed that Wheeler had served from 1975 to 2003 and that the offences of which he was convicted had occurred while he was an Honorary Curate between 1986 and 2003 in a group of nine parishes in north Devon. The Acting Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Jackie Searle, said that the sentence was “a reflection of the extremely serious crimes committed by Julian Wheeler. . . I hope the justice done today will bring some peace to all affected by this case.”

 

Rochester Chancellor is behind dementia single

THE Chancellor of Rochester Cathedral, Canon Gordon Giles, and the award-winning British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones have released a love song, “If one day”, to raise awareness of dementia. Available on streaming platforms, it is performed by Freddie Benedict. Canon Giles wrote the lyrics, which begin: “If one day I forget your name Hold my hand and spare my shame.” He said that the song “reminds us that there is a lot of life that takes place before any diagnosis of dementia”. Proceeds from the sale of the single will be donated to UK dementia charities.

 

Dr Braybrooke walks a mile a day for RNLI

The Revd Dr Marcus BraybrookeTHE former President of the World Congress of Faiths and a co-founder of the Faith and Belief Forum, the Revd Dr Marcus Braybrooke, is planning to walk one mile a day in May to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. He said: “Just before Christmas, I fell and broke my leg quite badly, and spent Christmas in Torbay Hospital and received very good care. It was a triumph after five days to walk a few yards to have a shower, and not be pushed there. Slowly, I walked a few more steps. After three months, I could walk a short distance without a knee brace, and, using a rollator, gradually, managed half a mile. Now, four months after the accident, I have just walked a mile with one stick!” fundraise.rnli.org/fundraisers/marcusbraybrooke/mayday-mile

 

Jim Cotter commemorated in lecture and book

TEN years after his death, the legacy of a priest and campaigner for gay rights, the Revd Jim Cotter, is to be recognised in a new book, Anglican Spiritual Writers of the 20th Century, and in the 2024 Jim Cotter Memorial Lecture. Cotter co-founded the Gay Christian Movement (now known as OneBodyOneFaith) in 1976. Dr Nicola Slee, Professor of Feminist Practical Theology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, is to deliver the lecture — “Jim Cotter: Writing and living a sexual spirituality” — at the R. S. Thomas and M. E. Eldridge Poetry and Arts Festival in Aberdaron, Gwynedd.

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