Religion news 15 September 2021

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Image credit: DHCLG

£1 million Faith New Deal Pilot Fund announced by minister for faith

The minister for faith, Lord Greenhalgh, has announcedThe Faith New Deal Pilot Fund” to encourage continuing engagement between faith groups and local or national government in the delivery of services. In a statement, he says the deal has two elements: a £1 million grant awarded in a competitive process to support faith groups to deliver innovative partnership projects; and the development of a Faith Compact which will set out key principles to aid engagement between faith groups and government. He says the initiative will build on the work of faith groups in the pandemic with pastoral care, support networks for the vulnerable, and a vital role in the vaccine roll out.  He says there is “underutilised capacity of the faith sector to work alongside local public services” and it can play a significant and effective role in supporting communities.

Review proposes Church of England structures are shaken to the core

The governance structures of the Church of England could be shaken to the core under proposals put forward by a review group chaired by the Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines. It suggests new powers over the use of money. A newly created charitable board, the Church of England National Services (CENS), would oversee most of the work of the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops Council. It would have power to decide how money was distributed, but the Church Commissioners would still manage assets and be responsible for Cathedrals. Other proposals include giving power to the “Nominations Committee” to vet people joining CENS. The review says the current structures are complex and encourage “confusion, duplication, and accountability gaps”. The Telegraph quotes an anonymous campaigner who decries the centralisation of power and warns of the negative impact on parishes.

Justin Welby becomes patron of mental health charity

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has become patron of the Sanctuary, a charity which helps the church support mental health and wellbeing. It offers courses which explain the relationship between faith and mental health, offering reflection on real experiences and Christian responses.  In a statement, it says it is thrilled with his appointment as his “openness about his personal experiences with mental health challenges displays the type of leadership needed in the Church”.

Death is announced of the pastor of the world’s largest church

Dr David Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world’s largest church in South Korea, has died aged 85. He founded the Yoido Full Gospel Church, Assemblies of God, with his mother-in-law in 1958. The church has almost one million members and preaches a theology of the three fold blessing – body, soul and spirit – emphasising physical health and prosperity alongside salvation.

Methodist district chairman in Cornwall suspended during safeguarding investigation

The Methodist Cornwall and Isles of Scilly District says its Chairman, the Rev Steven Wild, has been suspended while a safeguarding investigation is taking place. Mr Wild was the President of the Methodist conference in 2015. No details of the investigation have been disclosed. A statement on the district’s website says the action was taken “In accordance with Methodist Church process, as a neutral act and without prejudice… Your prayers are asked for all involved in this difficult situation. In your consideration, please be aware that Mr Wild is unwell at this time”.

107 year old Irish granny whose faith interview went viral has died

Nancy Stewart, a life long Catholic from Clonard in Ireland, whose interview about her faith for EWTN was viewed five million times, has died at the age of 107. Born in 1913, she lived through two world wars, saw Ireland become a republic and experienced poverty. In her interview, she said that during her last years, she had been looked after by the Blessed Virgin and all the saints and angels. She carried three rosaries on her arm, saying prayers several times a day sitting in her armchair. Her granddaughter Louise Coughlan tweeted that she had lost her best friend. Her interviewer, Colm Flynn, said Nancy was a granny to all of Ireland.


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