UK news in brief

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Synod members urged to join FOBT consultation

THE Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has urged General Synod members to contribute to the government consultation on fixed-odd betting terminals (FOBT), launched last month, and help reduce the minimum stake to £2. The Synod passed a motion in February which, Dr Smith wrote, had “without doubt, been crucial to the great progress which has been made so far” (News, 17 February). The consultation asks for views on what the maximum stake should be. “I hope all those who supported the motion at Synod will be able to express their support for a £2 stake directly to the Government in a response to the consultation,” he says. The consultation closes on 23 January. The online survey is at surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3XGGFP7 or email gamblingreviewconsultation2017@culture.gov.uk.

 

Faith leaders support world’s stateless

MORE than 100 religious leaders have signed a statement, during Faith Week (this week), calling for improved rights and better support for people who no longer have a home country. There are an estimated ten million “stateless” people worldwide. In the UK, a person cannot leave the country without legal status, because no other country will accept him or her. But without status, people are not permitted to work in the UK, and remain vulnerable to destitution, exploitation and detention, the Methodist Church, a signatory, reported this week. The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, another signatory, said: “Faith groups have an important role in calling for policy-makers to prioritise the welfare of people who face marginalisation and exclusion.”

 

New ‘resource church’ planted in Leeds

ST PAUL’s, Ireland Wood, in the north of Leeds, has been church-planted by a former assistant curate of St George’s, Leeds, the Revd Mark Harlow, with 45 churchgoers from his previous congregation. Mr Harlow, now Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s, is joined by his wife, Kathryn, who is Associate Priest. The move is part of the “Resource Churches” initiative under which designated churches plant or “revitalise” others. St George’s is the first church in the diocese to be designated a Resource Church. The Bishop of Richmond, the Rt Revd Paul Slater, said this week: “The idea is that there’s a cascading effect; so our hope is that St Paul’s, Ireland Wood, will eventually become a Resource Church itself, and will develop leaders who can help revitalise another church.”

 

Army’s formal legal chief heads for Falklands

THE former chief legal officer for the British Army during the 2003 Iraq war, the Revd Nicholas Mercer, is to be new Rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, it was announced this week. He workd on ensuring that the Human Rights Act was applied to prisoners of war detained on the battlefield. He left the Forces in 2011 and was ordained to a title at St Mary the Virgin, Gillingham. He has been Assistant Chaplain at Sherborne School for three years. He wrote in a Facebook post this week: “I loved my placement and was very warmly welcomed by the parish. I am delighted to be returning as the Rector seven years later.” He will start his new ministry next year.

 

Bell-ringers to mark Armistice centenary

SOME 1400 bell-ringers are to be enlisted on 11 November 2018 to celebrate the centenary of the Armistice, the Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, announced this week. “On November 11, 1918, the ringing of church bells erupted spontaneously across the country, as an outpouring of relief that four years of war had come to an end,” her statement said. “I am pleased that to honour that moment.” Eight memorials erected during the First World War, including a mass grave for 15 children killed at school in Poplar, east London, during an air raid, were Grade II listed by Historic England, last Saturday. Other memorials included a stone column at Barton on Sea, Hampshire, commemorating Indian soldiers treated at a hospital there, and a cross in Burton, Cheshire.

 

ANNA SIKORSKAFragile vessels: lanterns in the light well of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, made by the congregation from fragments of porcelain, form the SALT installation by the artist Anna Sikorska. The exhibition closes on 18 November www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org

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