Bishop of Truro to head up new government forum for the advancement of religious freedom across the globe

Fri 10 Jul 2020

Premier Christian News reports:

A new Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB) Forum has been set up following a landmark report into global Christian persecution by the Bishop of Truro last year.

Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro will chair the new initiative after the government accepted his findings and recommendation that the UK must become “the global leader in championing freedom of religion and belief [FoRB]”. 

In an announcement, the government said it was commissioning the UK FoRB Forum “to ensure that the UK plays a leading role in global efforts to advance religious freedom or belief around the world”. The Forum is due to be launched in September and will work to raise awareness of religious intolerance and discrimination across the globe. 

Bishop Philip said on Thursday: “In one of his first speeches to the House of Commons on the slave trade, William Wilberforce said this: ‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.’ My hope is that the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Forum will enable us all to look steadily at this egregious problem of our time, not to let it be overlooked, and together to face it down.”

The group, which will comprise of representation from civil-society organisations, NGOs, academic organisations, and the Government, will seek to inform the government on policy-making in relation to the protection of religious expression and belief make recommendations for action. It will also liaise closely with the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on FoRB, Rehman Chishti MP, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FoRB in order to hold the government to account for the implementation of Bishop Mountstephen’s recommendations.

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House of Lords Symposium Marks the First Anniversary of The Publication of the Truro Review of the Global Persecution of Christians

8 July 2020

Lord Alton’s opening remarks:

Closing remarks:

The links to the other contributions made during the Symposiuum, which was attended by several hundred people – on line – will be made available later in the week here

Foreign Office video on Freedom of Religious Belief:

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A Fair & Just Future for Cornwall

Leading Cornish voices, drawn from business, community, faith and charity sectors, have set out their vision of a ‘Fair and Just Future for Cornwall’ in a report that will be presented to council leaders and the Cornwall’s MPs.

“The decisions we take now will shape our future for good or ill and Cornwall should have a say about its own future,” says Andrew Yates, chair of Cornwall Independent Poverty Forum. “As we come out of lockdown we feel it is vital our elected representatives both here in Cornwall, and at Westminster, listen carefully to local businesses, voluntary and community organisations. These are people who live in the communities they serve and know them well.”

The report features contributions from 21 different organisations including Anne Thomas, CEO of Cornwall Care, Ann Vandermeulen from Cornwall Federation of Small Businesses, Manda Brookman from Extinction Rebellion, Wailim Wong from Cornwall Citizens Advice, Allister Young from Coastline Housing and Jane Yeomans from Transformation Cornwall.

The Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro and report contributor, said: “Whilst not everyone will agree with its conclusions, we are keen that this report enables a wider public conversation about Cornwall and what its future might look like. I salute all the contributors for their deep commitment to Cornwall and its people.

“This crisis has forced change on us in a way that few things, if any, will do in our lifetimes. It is our responsibility to respond to, and manage that change in a way that really does benefit one and all – and the natural world around us too. I hope we will commit ourselves – One and All – to work together for a better future.”

Read the full A Fair & Just Future for Cornwall report here.

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Faith leaders call for a green recovery

03 July 2020

Faith leaders have called for an environment-focused economic recovery. The statement has been signed by the Methodist Church President, the Revd Richard Teal and Vice-President, Carolyn Lawrence.

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.
We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean. We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most.

All this shows us how precarious our previous ‘business as usual’ was, socially, economically, ecologically and spiritually.  Yet we have also demonstrated our capacity to adapt to new realities.  Many people have discovered a deeper sense of spirituality. We have seen the possibility of creating a more sustainable and generous society in which we care more deeply for each other and the world.

Our faiths teach us that our planet, with its rich resources and inspiring diversity, is lent to us on trust only and we are accountable for how we treat it. We are urgently and inescapably responsible, not just before God but to our own children and the very future of humanity.

This unique moment calls us to develop a shared new vision for our future which we cannot afford to miss. As faith leaders we are committed to working alongside the people and governments of this nation and the world to formulate and live by such a vision.

It must be based on the recognition of our limits: this planet is a complex ecosystem in which we are only one part. It must be rooted in sustainability and respect for nature and the earth’s resources. It must be founded on the fundamental principles of justice and responsibility.

In this, the fifth anniversary year of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, we undertake to:
– Speak out urgently about the need for change;
-Promote the vision of the earth as our common home which must be shared equitably;
– Protect biodiversity and restore natural environments;
– Work with our communities to reduce substantially the carbon intensity of our activities;
– Build worldwide partnerships to reduce the impact of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable;
– Model what we teach in our faiths and communities.

We therefore call on our Government to:
– Ensure that every element of the economic recovery strategy has at its centre the urgent need to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change;
– Implement policies for sustainability in every sector of the economy;
– Take its due share of responsibility for a global & just transition, including through its approach to trade, investment and overseas aid;
– Use its COP26 presidency to work for a global commitment to net zero, building on the Paris Agreement;
– To protect biodiversity and restore the environment;

We urge every sector of civil society to use this opportunity to work together to create a better world.

Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and Church of England lead on the environment.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi, New North London Synagogue and Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism
Bishop John Arnold, RC Bishop of Salford and lead on Environment for the Catholic Bishop’s’ Conference of England and Wales
Dr Husna Ahmad OBE, CEO, Global One, Trustee, Faith for the Climate
Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, Chair, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board
Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Interim Director of Liberal Judaism
The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener of the Faith Impact Forum, The Church of Scotland
Talia Chain, CEO, Sadeh Farm, Trustee, Faith for the Climate
Lord Chartres, formerly Bishop of London
Rt Revd Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark
Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon
Commissioner Anthony Cotterill, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland
Jamie Cresswell, Chair, Religions for Peace UK, Trustee, Faith for the Climate
Rt Revd Woyin Karowei Dorgu, Bishop of Woolwich
Mr Derek Estill, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
Olivia Fuchs, Eco Dharma Network coordinator
Revd Giles Goddard, Chair, Faith for the Climate
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Senior Rabbi, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue
Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
BK Jayanti, Director, Brahma Kumaris UK
Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Senior Lecturer, Sikh Studies, University of Birmingham, Trustee, Faith for the Climate
Bishop James Jones KBE, former Bishop of Liverpool and former Co-founder of Faiths4Change
Fazlun Khalid, Founder, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Carolyn Lawrence, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Co-Director, Virtue Ethics Foundation
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Mrs Trupti Patel, President Hindu Forum of Britain, Trustee, Faith for the Climate
Gopal D. Patel Director, The Bhumi Project
Imam Sayed Razawi FRSA, Chief Imam, Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society
Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich, Rabbi, Nottingham Liberal Synagogue
Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
Revd Richard Teal, President of the Methodist Conference
Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich
Canon Guy Wilkinson CBE, Secretary, Faith for the Climate
Lord Williams of Oystermouth, Master of Magdalene College Cambridge and formerly Archbishop of Canterbury

Audio recording at home

In the UK, 7.1 million people are now listening to podcasts weekly, a figure that has doubled in the past five years (Ofcom). 

Audio content consumption continues to grow and understanding a few key audio production skills can greatly improve the quality of your content. 

This blog post focuses on recording audio only, for tips on improving the audio quality in your video productions, please see this post

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Lighting up the cathedral website

The chance to light a candle when in Truro Cathedral is something that physical visitors have always had. But, from 6 July, the cathedral is pleased to offer the same opportunity to digital visitors with the launch of its new ‘Light a Virtual Candle’ page. 

The new page allows visitors to Truro Cathedral’s website the chance to ‘light’ a virtual candle that will be present, flickering and visible on the page for a 48-hour period. Should they wish, there is the ability for people to write their name and leave a message or prayer alongside their candle too – though equally there is the option for these to be anonymous.

Speaking about the development, Dean of Truro, Roger Bush, said, “As a team, we understand that for various reasons, there are times when individuals who would really like to visit the cathedral, unfortunately, can’t. Something that has been heightened throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We have developed the virtual candle on the website to try to bridge the gap a little and offer the chance to engage with this important spiritual aspect remotely.”

It is completely free to light a virtual candle, and people are warmly invited to do so. Anyone wishing to make a donation, however small, to enable the cathedral to continue its life and work can do via the cathedral’s Just Giving page.

“People light candles for so many reasons,” said Dean of Truro, Roger Bush. “Often remembering people who are unwell, far away, facing a challenging time, those that have passed, but also in celebration too, of new babies, marriages, big birthdays. Whatever the motivation, the candle and its burning light can become a symbol of prayer or thought with that person or cause at its heart. Whether a physical or digital flame, the meaning absolutely remains.”

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Religious London : Theos Report

London is more religious than the rest of the country. This research project seeks to map and analyse this phenomenon. (2020)

London is often perceived to be different from the rest of the UK – more liberal and more secular. However, Londoners are not just more likely to belong to a particular religion, but to actively participate by, for instance, attending services on a regular basis. London’s religious micro–climate is paradoxical: a secular, liberal and cosmopolitan city in which religion is becoming more visible and significant.

The research found that London is more religious than the rest of Britain (62% identify as religious compared to 53% across the rest of Britain ex. London).

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Reaching out to the non-digital community

‘Connected’ – a new project reaching out to people without internet access

Anna Chaplaincy network member Sally Nevitt, Older Persons Director, at Immanuel Church, Bournemouth tells of a way of reaching those left behind in the pandemic world of reliance on new technology:

A simple concept using a conference call system means we can offer a range of different activities for people to join in with. They can access the activity one of two ways, either they can dial in and enter a room number when prompted or we can hold their number on our database, ring out and all they need to do is press the hash key and they are connected with others in the “room”.

We are currently offering seven activities, a Midweek Service with Communion, a Psalm and reflection, a short story, a current affairs discussion, quizzes, crosswords and bingo. We are planning to expand this and offer at least two activities each day, catering for a variety of tastes.

This project for which we have produced a flyer has had a very enthusiastic response and is ensuring that the most vulnerable and isolated members of the community are not forgotten. We have been blessed with some funding to help promote the scheme and are sending out 500 flyers in an effort to reach more people.

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Julia and Hans Rausing Launch £10 million Charity Survival Fund

New Charity Survival Fund launches to provide much needed funds to UK charities struggling with loss of income due to Covid-19.

The Charity Survival Fund has been set up in response to Julia and Hans’ ongoing concern about Covid-19’s economic impact on charities. This £10m Fund will provide core funding to help charities, especially small and medium sized, to offset lost income in the current financial year.

Who can apply

The fund is open to UK registered charities that:

  • Have a beneficial area within the UK
  • Actively operate across one of the three areas prioritised by The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust: Health and Wellbeing, Welfare and Education, Arts and Culture
  • Have annual income below £5m
  • Have lost (or are forecast to lose) income due to Covid-19
  • Have not already received Covid-19 related funding from The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust

Grant sizes

Charities may apply for grants up to the maximum threshold indicated in the table, depending on their annual income.

Up to £20,000£5,000
£20,001 – £100,000£10,000
£100,001 – £250,000£50,000
£250,001 – £500,000£100,000
£500,001 – £5,000,000£250,000
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Church of England awards £24 million in grants to spread Christian faith in towns and cities

A funding package worth £24 million has been announced by Church of England to help spread the Christian message in urban and deprived areas.

Awards have been made by the Archbishops’ Council to fund mission and evangelism in towns and cities alongside social action projects, from support for new parents to community cafes and food banks.

The Strategic Development Funding (SDF) grants have been awarded as part of the Church of England’s programme of Renewal and Reform, aimed at ensuring that the Church of England once more becomes a growing church for all people in all areas of the country.

The awards have been announced as many areas of the country  – particularly the most deprived communities – cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Debbie Clinton, Director of Renewal and Reform for the Church of England, said: “The range of work outlined in these projects is a measure of the Church of England’s commitment to all areas of the country – including some of the most deprived urban communities.  Our churches are sharing the love of Jesus Christ and bringing the good news of the gospel through spiritual and pastoral support to people as well as practical action.”

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