Religion news 13 September 2023

Image credit: Copyright © 2008 Roger H. Goun CCLicense 2,0

Funding cuts ‘a hammer blow’ to community journalism

Community reporting in England is under threat, as META (formerly Facebook) withdraws a multi- million pound scheme providing community reporters and the BBC cuts local radio broadcasting hours to become regional instead. Editors representing local publishing groups said the Meta cut was like a hammer blow and they are trying to secure alternative funding, as well as speaking to MPs for support. In a Religion Media Centre briefing, they agreed that the future lies in collaboration between all engaged in local community journalism, including independent neighbourhood titles, community broadcasters and the BBC, to ensure communities are reported well. The BBC is cutting 39 local radio Sunday morning religious programmes and replacing them with 13 regional shows, while new roles are being created to provide more online content. There was a plea for the BBC to “be a better neighbour”, enabling its new digital reporters in local areas to collaborate with other local media. There was also an acknowledgement that every reporter is a community reporter and all should have the skills and knowledge to enable them to reflect under-reported communities. View the briefing on our YouTube channel here , podcast on all major platforms including Apple here and article here

Major appeals after floods and earthquake devastate north Africa

Islamic Relief has launched two major appeals after two catastrophes in Muslim countries in north Africa. In eastern Libya, flooding has devastated communities with at least 5,200 people dead and 10,000 more still missing. The floods followed the destruction of two dams in the region after a powerful storm. Whole neighbourhoods and transport links have been destroyed. This happened two days after an earthquake flattened villages and caused extensive damage in Morocco, with 2,800 deaths and 300,000 people displaced when their homes were destroyed. Islamic Relief aid workers in Morocco are delivering blankets and mattresses to survivors in remote mountainous areas who are still sleeping outside. Many of the worst-hit areas are remote mountainous areas which are extremely hard to reach.

Pope’s peace envoy continues mission to return Ukrainian children

Pope Francis’ Ukraine peace envoy, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, is in China on a mission to return Ukrainian children who were taken to Russia after the invasion. This is the fourth leg of the mission which has taken him to Kyiv, Moscow and Washington. The Associated Press reports that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s minister for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing them of abducting children from Ukraine. Russian officials have denied any forced adoptions, saying some Ukrainian children are in foster care.

Archbishop of Canterbury: Decline in religious faith makes church less bossy

The Archbishop of Canterbury has published a speech delivered at the British-Irish Association annual conference in Oxford on 2 September. He said the false idea of individualism had prevailed and religious faith had declined, but this was not all bad: “Churches are ruined when wealth and power lead them to self-reliance. I rejoice in less of a bossy attitude, and of the Church stepping back from telling everybody what to do, here and elsewhere. Except in the House of Lords”. He said the wounds of Brexit were slowly healing, climate change was a long slow explosion and advised that the government must function with humility. Speech is here

Report calls for mindfulness room in parliament amid growing popularity

A report on Mindfulness in Westminster has called for more support for politicians beginning or maintaining their mindfulness practice, including the provision of a mindfulness room within the parliamentary estate. The report was commissioned by the APPG on Mindfulness and reveals that more than 300 British politicians have been trained in its use during the last decade. Mindfulness technique is a form of silent meditation requiring focus on the moment, which releases stress and clarifies thought. It is rooted in Buddhism, but is widely practised without reference to religious belief or tradition. Among the quotes in the report, the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch revealed that she takes her shoes off in the chamber before giving a speech to “mindfully feel the ground beneath her feet and help anchor herself to improve performance”.

Healing  ministry country estate sold to Nigeria based church

The Christian charity Ellel Ministries, which offers and teaches supernatural healing, is selling its large stately home, Pierrepoint Centre, to the Redeemed Christian Church of God network. In a statement the charity says massively increasing mortgage costs, utility bills and other operating costs, together with the need for extensive renovations, caused them to face a budget shortfall. Pierrepoint is a large former boarding school building on a 35 acre estate in Surrey. The new owners are a rapidly growing Nigerian rooted denomination with more than 870 churches in the UK.

Petition to cut the excessive number of bishops in the CofE

 A petition to reduce the number of bishops in the Church of England, has  been started on by a church member in Littlehampton. John Cockrell says that as a concerned member, he is “deeply troubled by the current state of our beloved institution”. While parishes struggle due to a lack of sufficient vicars, he says the number of bishops with extravagant lifestyles is excessive. This drains “valuable resources that could be better utilized in training more parish vicars”. There are 106 bishops plus two archbishops.  So far, 276 people have signed the petition – the goal is 500.


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