Longest overdue library book has been returned – 313 years late
If you have ever been late in returning a library book, take heart: the 1704 copy of The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man was recently handed back to Sheffield Cathedral.
A handwritten inscription inside reads: “This Book belongs to ye Lending Library in Sheffield Church 1709.” It left the library just over 300 years ago.
Sheffield Cathedral’s Reverend Canon Keith Farrow said that the family of a deceased woman who lived locally had asked in her will for it to be returned.
“Now it’s come back home. It’s a joy to have this little jewel back in the cathedral.”
With overdue fines of 50p a day, librarians could have charged the family more than £54,000 for the book — which itself is worth about £300.
The canon joked: “We might have got a new roof or something.”
Make time for your older relatives
Many of our older people are lonely. They lost touch with their families during the pandemic, and it seems that they have still not caught up again.
A recent survey by Age UK found that as many as 27 percent of people aged 60 and over admit that they speak less to their families now, and 24 per cent of older people say they feel less close to their relatives than before the pandemic.
The survey also found that millions of older people have lost the confidence to go out, and suffer more from memory loss, disturbed sleep, and anxiety.
The charity is urging people to reach out to their older friends and relatives and encourage them. It warns: “The pandemic has had a big impact on everyone and very few of us are emerging from the last two years completely unscathed.”
Ukrainian church leaders urge people to pray
A senior church leader in Ukraine has told the citizens that Russia’s war on Ukraine “did not begin with missiles and bombs – it began with deception, untruth and lies.” So says the head of Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko).
“The Lord is now showing us how we must resist with the testimony of truth. Evil is evil, not just an alternative viewpoint, and war is war, not just some conflict. Rapists, looters and murderers are criminals, and what they are perpetuating is a genocide of the Ukrainian people.”
The Metropolitan also said that Ukrainians knew that Russia had long had “evil plans to restore the tyranny of a rotten, overthrown empire.”
But, he said “The Lord is with us in this struggle, because we are fighting for truth and goodness against demonic tyranny and resentment…. We believe that our people will overcome all new challenges – that Ukraine will win its victory.”
Meanwhile, the Primate of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, said that this Spring and Summer may well be the last for many, including himself.
He went on: “As the war escalates, and the enemy intensifies its offensive against Ukraine, I call on everyone to pray vigorously and tirelessly for the Ukrainian army, because the fate of Ukraine and the world is now being decided.”
Call for Russian Church to be ‘distanced’
The Church in Wales has recently appealed to the World Council of Churches to distance itself from members which supported the war in Ukraine.
In an emergency motion, members of the Church’s Governing Body called on the WCC to take “clear and appropriate action” to distance itself against any of its members, including the Russian Orthodox Church, who had supported the war.
The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, said: “The WCC has itself spoken out against the war, including voicing support for the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, who has been clear in his condemnation of the war. What has been disappointing has been the response of the Patriarch of Moscow himself, who has sided with President Putin, and who has become increasingly vociferous in toeing the official line.”
Starving in the shadow of Ukraine
The huge outpouring of support for Ukraine is now eclipsing other crises around the world, which in turn is threatening millions with starvation.
So warns a number of charities and other humanitarian organisations. The UN reports that the situation in Somalia, where 4.5milliion people are at risk of starvation owing to the worst drought in a decade, is deteriorating quickly. Somalia urgently needs some £1.1billion in aid, of which only three per cent has been secured.
As one spokesman at the UN explains, “The outlook for Somalia was already grim prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, but we were then overshadowed by the crisis in Tigray, Yemen, and then Afghanistan. Now, Ukraine seems to suck all the oxygen that is in the room.”
The international director of Tearfund, Veena O’Sullivan, said: “While the eyes of the world have been fixed on Ukraine, other horrors have been taking place.”
These range from a “hunger crisis of massive proportions” in the Horn of Africa, which includes Somalia, and the ongoing violence and famine in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, as well as humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.
The director of CAFOD, Christine Allen, said: “It is right that we support a response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, in whatever way we can, but this cannot be at the expense of vital funds meant for tackling the root causes of global poverty.”
Meanwhile, church leaders in Africa have warned that the war is already affecting their food security, as 40 per cent of Ukraine’s wheat and maize is exported to the Middle East and Africa. The poorest are the most affected, as market prices rise.
Child poverty strategy needed now “more than ever”
A cross-party strategy is urgently needed to tackle rising levels of child poverty in the UK. So says a new report by the Church of England.
The report brought together the views of 14 organisations, church leaders and grassroots groups. It has called for cross-departmental approach in Whitehall, and formal structures for driving forward this work.
The report argues that any effective child poverty strategy should have agreed measures and specific targets for reducing poverty. There was widespread support for a number of measures, including extended school and extra-curricular activities for school age children and increasing housing support for low-income families in rented housing.
Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, who speaks for the Church of England in the House of Lords on child poverty, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is upon us. It’s crucial that we listen to the organisations who are responding to child poverty across the country, and we urge the Government to recognise the overwhelming consensus that this report presents.”
Archbishop calls for the Government to work with faith groups to achieve net zero carbon
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called on the Government to work with faith groups to achieve net zero carbon.
Speaking recently in the House of Lords during a debate on Behaviour Change for Net Zero, he said: “My Lords, like the Government, the Church of England has targets for reaching net-zero carbon, in our case by 2030.
“Churches across the Anglican Communion are deeply affected by climate change. We are working right across the Communion on this question.
“Will the Minister set out the plans that the Government have to work further with faith communities, which have unique distribution and contacts, from the grass roots to the highest level, both nationally and internationally, and will he commend the work that they are already doing?”
Visit the C of E online page
There is now a range of digital resources for to you connect with God at this difficult time. These include:
Time to Pray app (https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/time-to-pray) which is free and has an accompanying daily audio offering on SoundCloud and iTunes.
Mental health reflections (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/supporting-good-mental-health)
Finally, there are the Church’s smart speaker apps, which provide a range of Christian resources. https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/our-smart-speaker-apps In March alone, the number of people using the Alexa app rose by more than 70 per cent.
More details at: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online