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UK news in brief

by
09 February 2024

Church in Wales

Open wide: the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, stands with the Leader of the Bro Eifionydd Ministry Area, Canon Kim Williams, in New St John’s, Porthmadog, which has been planted in a former dental surgery in the High Street. After blessing the church, the Archbishop said: “I’m delighted to see a thriving Christian community gathered together right on the High Street. In addition to worship each Sunday, all kinds of new things will be happening here. New St John’s will become a space to welcome people in a new way.” The original church was built between 1873 and 1876 on a hill overlooking Porthmadog, but was closed last year after becoming structurally unsafe and difficult to get to

Open wide: the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, stands with the Leader of the Bro Eifionydd Ministry Area, Canon Kim Williams, in New St John’s, Porthmadog, which has been planted in a former dental surgery in the High Street. After blessing the church, the Archbishop said: “I’m delighted to see a thriving Christian community gathered together right on the High Street. In addition to worship each Sunday, all kinds of new things will be happening here. New St John’s will become a space to welcome people in a new way.” The original church was built between 1873 and 1876 on a hill overlooking Porthmadog, but was closed last year after becoming structurally unsafe and difficult to get to

 

From Herefordshire to Cyprus & the Gulf

THE next Bishop in Cyprus & the Gulf is to be the Revd Sean Semple, Rector of Ross with Walford and Brampton Abbotts, in the diocese of Hereford. The announcement was made by the Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Revd Hosam Naoum, on Wednesday. Fr Semple was ordained deacon in South Africa in 2009 and priest in 2011, after which he served as an associate priest in Larnaca, in Cyprus. It is one of three dioceses in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and covers several countries, including Cyprus, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirites, Oman, Yemen, and Iraq. Fr Semple moved to Hereford diocese in 2015 on his appointment as Vicar of Weobley with Sarnesfield and Norton Canon.

 

Usher pleas for banks for rural communities

THE Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, has called for a faster roll-out of bank hubs to meet the needs of rural communities. Hub openings were “lagging behind” the rate of bank closures, he said. Bishop Usher was speaking in the House of Lords on 25 January, in a debate on high-street banks and banking hubs. Lamenting the loss of 12 bank branches in Norfolk within the past 12 months, he said: “The sad reality is that the withdrawal of banks from market towns has disadvantaged sections of our community, especially those who want to speak to a human and not a robot, those for whom trust is a hard-won necessity, those with sensitive things to discuss, and that group of people who are not savvy with the internet or have poor connectivity and so are digitally disfranchised.” He asked the Government to set out plans for hubs in rural and market towns.

 

Dyson wins donation battle for C of E school

THE Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, has approved an application from Malmesbury C of E Primary School, in the diocese of Bristol, to enable it to receive a £6-million donation from Sir James Dyson. The entrepreneur had first offered the money in June 2022 to build a dedicated science and technology centre at the school, which — rated Outstanding by Ofsted and oversubscribed — is close to Sir James’s technology campus. Last year, however, he wrote a letter to The Times in which he said that both the Department for Education and the local authority had turned down the offer on the grounds that the plans would draw pupils away from other schools in the area (News, 3 November 2023).

 

Church leaders honour former Taoiseach John Bruton

THE Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, has paid tribute to a former Taoiseach, John Bruton, who died on Tuesday, aged 76, after a long illness. Mr Bruton, who served as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997, was instrumental in the evolving Northern Ireland peace process, alongside the then UK Prime Minister John Major, with whom he launched the Anglo-Irish Framework Document in 1995. Archbishop Jackson expressed his “gratitude for the generosity in public life that John Bruton showed. Over four decades he connected local, national, and international concerns and interests. In this way, he made a unique contribution to the common good and to the place of Ireland in the world.” The RC Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Dermot Farrell, described Mr Bruton as a “committed politician and dedicated leader” who worked for the common good.

 

Pandemic worship phoneline DailyHOPE closes

THE free phone line DailyHOPE — created by the Church of England, the charity Faith in Later Life, and Connections at Holy Trinity, Claygate, to support older people who lacked access to online worship during national lockdowns (News, 1 May 2020) — has closed after almost four years of ministry. It was launched in April 2020, providing prayers, hymns, and reflections. It ended on Wednesday of last week. The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Over these past nearly four years I have been so glad to hear the stories of lives transformed, encouraged, and supported by this telephone line. It is therefore sad that we have to cease this service.”

 

Council issues ‘unsafe’ headstones warning

STROUD DISTRICT COUNCIL has urged families whose relatives are buried in St Cyr’s churchyard, in Stonehouse, in Gloucestershire, to check the condition of their graves, after concerns were raised over the safety of 71 headstones that have fallen into disrepair, the BBC reports. Responsibility for the maintenance of memorials lies with the owner, who is usually the next of kin to the deceased. Where records exist, the owners of the memorials have already been contacted. The council has asked other families to get in touch. Cllr Chloe Turner told the BBC that many were “very old . . . and often very heavy, posing a risk to visitors if they lean, or develop structural faults”.

 

Bishop of Reading announces her retirement

THE Area Bishop of Reading in the diocese of Oxford, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, is to retire in September, it was announced last week. She was ordained priest in 1998, and has served all her ministry in Oxford diocese, in parishes, as a parish development adviser, and as an Hon. Canon of Christ Church. She was Archdeacon of Reading from 2013 until her consecration in November 2019. She has contributed to church thinking on issues such as knife crime and climate change.

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