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UK news in brief

07 June 2024

Church of Ireland

A service of thanksgiving on Sunday to mark 120 years of Belfast Cathedral

A service of thanksgiving on Sunday to mark 120 years of Belfast Cathedral

St Anne’s, Belfast, celebrates 120 years

“EVERY democracy will only be as good as the civic forces that sustain it,” the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, said during a service of thanksgiving on Sunday to mark 120 years of Belfast Cathedral, the nave of which was completed in 1904. Referring to the maritime origins of the word “nave”, he said that the people of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the whole island were “in the same boat” — facing “so many challenges and threats that it is impossible for any one person or one tradition to carry it alone.” A cathedral, he continued, was first and foremost a place of worship and witness but also a space for civic society beyond elected representatives which “makes the peace” after the ending of wars.


Next Dean of Lichfield announced

THE next Dean of Lichfield is to be the Rt Revd Jan McFarlane, who has been Interim Dean since 2023, Downing Street announced on Wednesday. She succeeds the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, who retired on 31 March, aged 70 (News, 20 January). Bishop McFarlane was consecrated bishop in 2016 for the suffragan see of Repton, in Derby diocese, a post that she held until 2020, when she became an hon. assistant bishop in Lichfield diocese. She was ordained priest in 1994 and served her title in Lichfield diocese, before becoming Chaplain and Minor Canon of Ely Cathedral in 1996. She was diocesan communications officer for Norwich, the Bishop of Norwich’s Chaplain, and Archdeacon of Norwich before her consecration.


Cathedrals on ‘best free UK days out’ list

THE cathedrals of Bristol, Chichester, Durham, and St Davids have been listed by Which? as among the best free days out in the UK. More than 4000 people took part in the Which? survey of the UK’s best museums, of which more than 3000 recorded their favourite historic attractions. Durham was the highest-rated cathedral, gaining 86 per cent of the votes. St Davids gained 80 per cent, Chichester 77 per cent (the only attraction in the county of Sussex to make the list), and Bristol 68 per cent.


Commissioners appoint chief investment officer

A SENIOR financial-services executive, Poppy Allonby, has been appointed as the Church Commissioners’ chief investment officer, responsible for their £10.4-billion endowment fund. She will succeed Tom Joy, who retired in April (Interview, 23 February), in September. Ms Allonby is currently vice-president and head of the ESG Enablement Remit for T. Rowe Price, where she leads a multidisciplinary team responsible for the firm’s sustainability strategy and execution. The First Church Estates Commissioner, Alan Smith, said that her “investment expertise coupled with her early and prescient focus on sustainable investment will be invaluable”.


Percy review group suspends work

THE review group overseeing the independent review of the handling of alleged safeguarding issues regarding the former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Dr Martin Percy, is suspending its work, it was announced last week. The Safeguarding Practice Review, commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council and Oxford diocese, was announced in November. A statement on the C of E website says: “Members of the review group were to consider evidence relating to the alleged safeguarding issues with a view to appointing and instructing an independent reviewer with relevant expertise and experience. That has been unable to happen despite the efforts of the review group members. This has meant no further progress can be made on the review. Stakeholders have been informed of this development and support offered.”


Six Pride flags stolen from Essex church

ESSEX POLICE have appealed for information after six Pride flags were stolen from the front of Leigh Wesley Methodist Church, Elm Road, in Leigh-on-Sea, over a two-week period. The thefts were reported between 10 and 25 May. Officers wish to speak to two people in connection with the incidents. A church spokesperson told the BBC: “This follows similar incidents where more than a dozen have been taken in the last few months. As an inclusive church, we are saddened by this.”


Bangor diocese launches Welsh course

THE diocese of Bangor has launched a ten-hour online taster course to help language-learners to participate in church services in Welsh. The first part introduces basic conversational phrases; the second is tailored towards the Church and the Christian faith, and includes saying the Lord’s Prayer in Welsh and understanding a simple eucharist. The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, said: “As a Welsh learner, I am delighted that this helpful and practical course is available.”


New pledge to back ‘climate solutions’

CHURCHES and other religious groups are being urged to make a commitment to investing in measures to reduce the impact of climate change by signing a new Green Investment Declaration. Published on Tuesday and supported by the UK charities Operation Noah and JustMoney Movement, it commits its signatories to investing at least five per cent of their assets in “climate solutions” within five years. Operation Noah’s campaign director, Clare Fussell, said that it also encouraged values-driven investors to advocate publicly for green investment, to “create ripples throughout wider Church and society”. Truro diocese was among the first to sign.

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