Religion news 16 April

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Ukrainian churches appeal for peace

The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations is appealing for peace, following the build-up of Russian forces on the border. As the Orthodox church prepares for Easter on 2 May, the council issued a statement: “Before one of the greatest Christian holidays, Easter, which for many citizens of our country remains an opportunity for inner renewal and a source of spiritual consolation, we ask you to show wisdom and courage, so that at this time solemn Easter songs, not shots, echo over our homeland. May sincere Easter greetings be heard again, the weapons be silenced, and a lasting peace be established”.

Church bells to toll for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The Dean of Windsor, David Conner, will conduct the funeral Service for the Duke of Edinburgh tomorrow at 3pm, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will pronounce the blessing. During the hour before, churches throughout the country will toll a single bell, slowly. Churches and cathedrals have held commemorative services and prayers this week and York Minster will hold a thanksgiving on Wednesday.

French advised to leave Pakistan in row over cartoon

French nationals and companies in Pakistan have been advised to leave temporarily after violent anti-France protests brought large parts of the country to a standstill. Reports suggest anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a satirical magazine’s right to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, deemed blasphemous by many Muslims. The Associated Press says about 400 to 500 French nationals live in Pakistan and they will leave on commercial flights.

 Quilliam Foundation shuts

Maajid Nawaz has announced the closure of the Quilliam Foundation after financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. He tweeted: “Due to the hardship of maintaining a non-profit during Covid lockdowns, we took the tough decision to close Quilliam down for good. This was finalised today. A huge thank you to all those who supported us over the years. We are now looking forward to a new post-Covid future.” Quilliam was started in 2007 to counter Islamist extremism and advance democratic values. But it was criticised by Muslim organisations for fuelling anti-Islam sentiment.

Legal action over Billy Graham association and church cancelled bookings

The Christian Institute is supporting legal action against the owners of The Barracks conference centre in Scotland which cancelled bookings from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Free Church of Scotland at Stirling. The church says the cancellations were based on religious discrimination, but the owners deny this, saying the decision was based on their long-standing policy of not funding or supporting projects and activities that incorporate the promotion of political or religious beliefs. The case will be heard next week. Premier Christian News story here

Alpacas keep the grass in trim at Leeds churchyard

Two alpacas have been enlisted to help maintain a four-acre church graveyard in the village of Calverley near Leeds. The yard at St Wilfrid’s, a 12th-century parish church, contain 3,500 graves which are too tightly packed for mowing. Volunteers help to look after them which, the curate says, allows young people to connect with their parish church.

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