Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
On 12 April, 1.6 billion Muslims will begin thirty days of prayer and fasting for Ramadan. Tens of thousands of disciples around the world will pray for them to come to know Jesus and experience new life in him. You are invited to join ‘Beyond’ for a regional update focused on the Islamic world and hear how God is working among Muslim peoples, the challenges and strongholds they face, and how we in the UK can get involved in reaching them with the Good News. The free online multi-week trainings are called Disciple-making Movement Nuggets. Each session focuses on one component - giving a short, practical piece people can ‘try out’. If they find it helpful, they can be connected to more detailed training and coaching. See also
On 8 April the gates of Belfast's so-called peace wall were prised open and set alight, police were attacked, petrol bombs thrown and a bus burnt in another night of violence. Over the week 41 police were injured, and ten people arrested. The most recent violence saw eight more officers hurt on both sides of an interface between several hundred loyalists and nationalists throwing petrol bombs in both directions in the loyalist Shankill Road and the nationalist Springfield Road. The power-sharing executive has met to consider the situation; the escalation in disorder requires a united response. It is hard to know how ministers will work in unity when they have not been on the same page about why the violence has been happening. Also criminals are orchestrating violence by putting petrol bombs into the hands of 12-year-olds: see
Sir Keir Starmer apologised for the ‘hurt’ caused by his visit to Jesus House of All Nations after the church was criticised for holding traditional biblical views on homosexuality. He praised the church for opening its premises as a vaccination centre, then later tweeted it was a ‘mistake’ to visit the church, and that he was ‘not aware’ of their views on gay rights. The church was criticised for being anti-LGBT and supporting conversion therapy, but it does not engage in conversion therapy. Pastor Agu, the church pastor, said they provide appropriate pastoral support, including prayer, to all their members, whatever life situations they find themselves in: ‘This is consistent with the fundamentals of freedom of speech and freedom of religion and the government's current position. Over the past 48 hours, in the courtroom of social media, we have felt prosecuted, judged, and sentenced unfairly.’ He said he is very concerned for the thousands of churches and millions of Christians who hold a traditional biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
In November, the Government proposed cutting its aid budget as a result of the pandemic. In March the Prime Minister said the proposed reduction was only temporary and the figure would return to 0.7% cent ‘when the fiscal situation allows’. In a joint statement Archbishop Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that the recent review of defence, diplomacy, and development was a pledge to return the aid budget to 0.7% and honour the many promises made and to deliver on the duty imposed by Parliament. They added, ‘Saying the Government will only do this “when the fiscal situation allows” suggests it will act in contravention of its legally binding target. This promise, repeatedly made even during the pandemic, has been broken and must be put right.’
L’Arche are committed to providing adults with learning disabilities with the opportunities they need to lead fulfilling and empowered lives through person-centered support. There are eleven L’Arche communities in the UK. L’Arche Brecon are working to rebind old hardback books into beautiful journals and notebooks. Rebound Books are individually and uniquely created from original publications. People with and without learning disabilities work together, removing spines from the original books and, using quality reclaimed paper, intersperse blank pages with selected pages from the original book. The books are then wire-bound into unique journals and notebooks. Agnes, a workshop facilitator at Rebound Books, said, ‘Everybody here enjoys what they are doing. Just because we think a person might not be able to do something doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to do it. It is about working together to discover our gifts.’ See also
Twelve girls from southern England were in an Instagram chat group whose name refers to suicide. The group was discovered when three of the girls were found seriously unwell in a street and taken by ambulance to hospital for emergency treatment. One of the girls mentioned they had met online and discussed suicide. Police examined digital devices and found the group’s other members. Seven of the girls had self-harmed before being traced by the police. Children's social care services from seven different local authorities are involved in safeguarding members of the group. In November Instagram launched technology to recognise self-harm and suicide images and words in content on its app in the UK and Europe. Sadly, Instagram said it found no suicide or self-harm related content in this group. The police said that peer-to-peer influence increased suicidal tendencies amongst the children involved, to the extent that several escalated to suicidal crises and serious self-harm.
Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Church of England’s first black female bishop, is concerned that a Government’s report on race and ethnic disparities said that the success of the ethnic minority population in education and economy is a model for other white-majority countries. The Bishop said that we will be an example when black people are not just sweeping floors, cleaning, and catering in establishments, but sitting around every table and in leadership in all walks of life. ‘There are serious issues around that report if it is telling us we are now a model country.’ The report, commissioned after the Black Lives Matter movement began, said there was no evidence of institutional racism in the UK: rather, geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture, and religion all impact life chances more than racism. Many say the report was culturally deaf and out of step with public opinion.
Many churches and cathedrals which have remained closed throughout the recent lockdown are reopening in time for in-person worship during Holy Week and Easter - but online services and events remain at the heart of festivities. The stay-at-home rule has been replaced. Now up to two households of unlimited numbers, or up to six households of six people, can meet outdoors. The rector of Bath Abbey said, ‘We look forward eagerly to celebrating the life-renewing hope of Easter. It will be a great joy to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, as a church family back in the abbey once again - especially as we were unable to meet at Easter last year.’
The Government formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in 2016. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, warned that universities faced funding cuts if they failed to adopt the definition by Christmas 2020. However, anti-Semitism is still allowed in British universities under the guise of Israel Apartheid Week: this means that it is operating in plain sight, with events taking place on taxpayer-funded campuses. These events (this year’s will be virtual) are designed to compare Israeli rule to apartheid in South Africa. See also
A teacher who showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad is in fear for his life. His parents have also gone into hiding, amid growing concerns the wider family may be targeted and even killed by extremists. Mass protests have been held outside the school since the teacher used the cartoon in a lesson looking at blasphemy. A Paris teacher was beheaded in October after showing his class the same image. Despite appealing for calm, local leaders have noticeably stopped short of calling for the protests to stop. Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said teachers should be allowed to show such images in free society. ‘We want religions to be taught to children and children to be able to question and query them.’ 70,000 people signed a petition supporting the teacher, but anger grows as others demand that he goes.