Thursday, October 25, 2012

Church Leaders say No to EDL

Church leaders have united to deliver a clear message to the English Defence League that it will not be welcomed in Norwich if a planned protest march goes ahead in the city. The right-wing movement, which opposes what it considers to be the spread of militant Islamism, is planning its first-ever march through Norwich on Saturday, November 10. It was organised in response to Norwich City Council’s decision to ban the Rev Alan Clifford of the Norwich Reformed Church from using a market stall on Hay Hill, where it was believed that anti-Islamic literature was being distributed. But the EDL, whose marches are often marred by violence, believe the ban infringed freedom of speech and arranged the protest to demonstrate against it. Now the leaders of all Christian denominations in Norwich have joined other community and religious groups in making it clear that any organisation exhibiting intolerance of any of the city’s diverse faiths would not be welcomed. The following joint statement was issued: “The intention of the English Defence League to mount a demonstration in Norwich is entirely unwelcome. Norwich has a long history of welcoming strangers, often in considerable numbers. The integration of so many different groups into the life of this fine city is what gives Norwich such richness in its life today. This is a cause for celebration, and we must not allow this honourable tradition to be broken.” The signatories were: -Fr David Bagstaff, diocesan administrator of the Diocese of East Anglia (Roman Catholic) -Major David Jackson, divisional commander of the Eastern Region, Salvation Army -The Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Church of England) -The Rev Richard Lewis, regional minister of the Eastern Baptist Association -John Myhill, on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) -The Very Rev Graham Smith, Dean of Norwich (Church of England) -The Rev Graham Thompson, chairman of the East Anglian District of the Methodist Church -Fr James Walsh, Dean of the Cathedral Church of John the Baptist (Roman Catholic) -The Rev Paul Whittle, moderator of the Eastern Synod of the United Reformed Church The Ven Jan McFarlane, Archdeacon of Norwich, added: “We pride ourselves on being open and welcoming and that is a great tradition that we want to continue, so the idea that there might be a march from an organisation such as the EDL goes against everything that Norwich stands for. All the church leaders signed the statement immediately. They all agreed that they do not want anything that says people here are not welcoming to everybody. It is just not Norwich.” Mr Whittle said the United Reformed Church, which he represents, had been mistaken for the similarly-named Norwich Reformed Church, which had sparked the controversy. He said: “I am aware that there has been some confusion between the two, but the United Reformed Church is a completely distinct entity from the Norwich Reformed Church. We would want to work in partnership with all religious leaders and respect the faiths of others. “We all really value the diversity that is found in Norwich. We would want to link with people of all faiths and we as church leaders would not be happy to support people who want to break that up; to suggest that people of different faiths are not welcome.” The EDL said it wanted to exercise its right to protest at what it sees as the “unfair” treatment of the Norwich Reformed Church. An EDL spokesman said: “The English Defence League will be showing their support for the church and protesting at Norwich City Council’s actions against the church and everyone else’s freedom of speech.” A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said the EDL had sent a formal notification that it intends to stage the protest on November 10. “There is a legal right to freedom of expression and assembly in this country so police will be working to facilitate any peaceful protests or assemblies on this day whilst also seeking to enable others to go about their lawful business,” he said. “We understand there may be concerns and feelings of vulnerability within a number of communities and we will be looking to work closely with the organisers, our partners and community leaders to help address these.” Local community organisation We Are Norwich, a coalition of faith groups, trade unions, political parties and activists, has said it will work with the police to hold a peaceful counter-demonstration which celebrates the city’s diverse cultures, should the march go ahead. Meanwhile members of Norwich’s Muslim community say they are alarmed at the prospect of the EDL visiting their home city. Jamal Sealey of Chaplefield Mosque said: “The Norwich Muslim Community has been a part of this city for over 30 years and welcome the opportunity to work with the other members of the We Are Norwich group to ensure this city remains safe for people of all backgrounds, beliefs and ethnicities.”

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Be prepared

Be Prepared - Is your community ready for anything? A Focus for prayers and sermons on October 7th 2012 October 7th sees the start of Norfolk Prepared Week-a week of action to build awareness of the vital work being done to prepare for any emergency situation hitting our county-from severe weather to terrorist attack, from a dangerous flu epidemic to a plane or train crash. It is an opportunity to pay tribute to and give thanks for the emergency services, the military, utility providers, emergency planners and decision-makers working tirelessly behind the scenes preparing for the worst case scenario through exercises and developing protocols which could literally save lives, learning the lessons of incidents elsewhere. It is an opportunity to explore ways than we can work together to make our communities more resilient and cohesive, ensuring the needs of our less able and vulnerable are considered and remembered, and identifying and managing risks. Consider whether there is anything you can do to help. What skills could members of your congregation bring to the table? It is a time to forge partnerships with parish council, local authorities, government agencies and voluntary sector groups such as the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance. It is also a chance to raise awareness of the Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together Ecumenical Emergency Incident Team (EEIT) - a group of clergy and lay people accredited, trained, supported and ready to be called into action at any time. The team is convened by Rev Simon Wilson in his capacity as County Ecumenical Officer. Please pray for the work of the EEIT and other faith-based organisations whether Christian like the Salvation Army or from minority faith communities; for those involved in resilience work and preparing for what could be very difficult and traumatic work providing humanitarian assistance during an incident and in promoting community recovery in the aftermath. Supporting the injured, the bereaved, the homeless, the evacuated and the unsettled. Providing practical, pastoral and spiritual support. Ensuring that religious needs are met. Pray also for Chaplains in our hospitals, supporting the police, fire, ambulance and coastguard services, the military, the coroner’s court, the airport and county hall-building relationships and raising awareness-being ready for anything. Pray for disaster management across the world-for those from Norfolk serving in overseas contexts. Give thanks that Norfolk is generally a safe place to live and work but pray against complacency - what would you do if the services you rely on suddenly weren’t there anymore? Are you ready for anything? Find out more at : Contact O God our father Our refuge and strength in times of trouble We thank you for all you provide for us, for those who care for us and those who keep us safe. Guide those preparing for emergency situations Make our communities cohesive and resilient places where we care for our neighbour Prepare and support us for those times when things go wrong and protect us from harm. Bless the dedication and skills of the emergency services and sustain the ministry of chaplains and the ecumenical emergency incident team In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen

Friday, April 06, 2012

Lib Dem President Tim Farron MP responds to open letter

Thanks very much for the letter, I will raise this directly with Nick and his team.

I think you probably know my views on this matter. As a Liberal I was extremely concerned by the press reports of new surveillance powers potentially to be included in the Queens Speech.

I also agreed very much with Julian Huppert’s article on Lib Dem Voice — there must be no question of the authorities having universal internet surveillance powers.

We are reasonable people and we should be prepared to look at what will now be draft legislation with an open mind, but we should be prepared to put our foot down and pull the plug if we consider the proposals to be illiberal. We must not as Liberal Democrats fall into a position of trying to amend, unpick or apologise for a piece of authoritarian Tory policy.

Over the last couple of years we have made some mistakes, which is OK so long as we learn from them. This is our opportunity to put those lessons into practice. Britain must be more liberal and free as a result of Liberal Democrats in power, not less. The proposals as they were first set out undoubtedly cross a red line, we’ve crossed enough of those already – no more.
Open Letter to Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat President

Re: Concerns over our liberal identity and mission in government

We understand that the leaked policy on RIPA internet surveillance is now being reviewed more thoroughly, rather than rushed into the Queen's speech. As such we would like you, as our president, to convey the following thoughts to appropriate Liberal Democrat ministers.

The Home Secretary wrote in the Sun on Tuesday that "Only suspected terrorists, paedophiles or serious criminals will be investigated." This is akin to saying "if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about." If the hacking scandal and ongoing Leveson inquiry has taught us anything, it is that argument is demonstrably false.

At first hacking was tolerated by the public when it was only celebrities and politicians who were victims. It was only after it was exposed that private individuals were hacked that there was public outrage. Even the Queen's own police protection sold information about her to the News of the World. If our head of state cannot be safeguarded from corrupt police officers, what chance has the rest of us got? This is our fear over these leaked proposals; we believe that extending universal, rather than targeted internet surveillance powers to the police, exposes innocent citizens to corrupt sections of authority. We agree with Julian Huppert MP when he argues that the police should only be allowed to access private internet usage when they have obtained a "named, specific and time-limited warrant" from a judge or minister.

In a February 2011 interview with the Guardian Nick Clegg said: "You should not trust government – full stop. The natural inclination of government is to hoard power and information; to accrue power to itself in the name of the public good." And later: Clegg says the restoration of liberty is ongoing, and urges campaigners to "hold the government's feet to the fire". We are attempting to do just that with this letter. Surely an important part of our party's mission is to defend and protect the civil rights of our fellow citizens, and if we fail, our party's liberal identity will be put at grave risk. We urge our ministers to heed our call – block these illiberal proposals and lead the charge for reform of RIPA to ensure our citizens enjoy the fair, free and open society we seek to build and safeguard.

Kind regards,

1. Cllr Lev Eakins, Manchester City Council 2. Cllr Janet Battye, Leader, Calderdale MBC 3. Cllr Guy Poultney, Cabinet Member, Bristol City Council 4. Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, Leader, Southwark Liberal Democrat council group 5. Cllr Iain Roberts, Cabinet member, Stockport MBC 6. Cllr Prue Bray, Leader, Wokingham Liberal Democrat council group 7. Cllr Tom Papworth, Leader, Bromley Liberal Democrat council group 8. Cllr Erica Kemp, Liverpool City Council 9. Cllr Alex Folkes, Deputy Leader Cornwall Liberal Democrat council group 10. Cllr. Tony Harwood, Deputy Leader Maidstone Liberal Democrat council group 11. Cllr Tom Simon, Deputy Leader, Camden Liberal Democrat council group 12. Cllr Tom Morrison, Chair Liverpool Wavetree 13. Cllr. Neil Taylor, Chair Altrincham and Sale West 14. Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Manchester City Council 15. Cllr James Baker, Calderdale 16. Cllr Nigel Ashton, Southport 17. Cllr Michelle Pearce, Wiltshire 18. Cllr Colin Rosenstiel, Cambridge 19. Cllr Darren Thornton, Richmond 20. Cllr Colin Strong, Spelthorne 21. Mark Pack, London, Co-Editor Lib-Dem Voice 22. Stephen Tall, Oxford, Co-Editor Lib-Dem Voice 23. Paul Walter, Newbury, Co-Editor Lib-Dem Voice 24. Mark Thompson, Bracknell, LD Blogger 25. Richard Morris, Richmond, LD Blogger 26. Zadok Day, Co-Chair Liberal Reform, Secretary Bury LDs 27. Linda Jack, Member of FPC and SLF Council and Chair Liberal Left 28. Kelly-Marie Blundell, Vice Chair of Ashford, Diversity Champion for the SE Region and South East SLF 29. Conor McKenzie, Harrogate, England Convenor Liberal Youth 30. Hannah Bettsworth, Liberal Youth Scotland Ordinary Executive Member-elect 31. Sara Lloyd Williams, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru Liberal Youth Wales Chair 32. Tom Lister, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru Liberal Youth Wales Vice Chair/Treasurer 33. Linden Parker, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru Liberal Youth Wales Communication Officer 34. Cadan ap Tomos, Aberystwyth, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru Liberal Youth Wales Young Members' Officer 35. Rory Roberson, Ieuenctid Rhyddfrydol Cymru Liberal Youth Wales Branch Officer 36. Natasha Chapman, East Midlands Regional Liberal Youth chair 37. David Cope, LD Youth South West Regional Chair 38. Joe Donnelly, Rossendale, Chair of Durham Liberal Youth 39. Daniel Waterfield, Liverpool, Co-Chair Liverpool LD Youth 40. Madeleine Spink, Chair York University LDs 41. Alan Belmore, Horsham (Former Chair, Liberal Youth) 42. Richard Gadsden, Manchester, Exec Member NW Region 43. Josh Allen, York Central (Press Secretary) 44. Tracy Connell, Newcastle, Regional Officer 45. Neil Derby, Chair of Preston Liberal Democrats 46. Gemma Roulston, Reigate, LDDA officer 47. Paul Wild, Walsall, MDO 48. William Jones, Chair, Wythenshawe and Sale East 49. Steve Middleton, Treasurer, Salford Lib Dems 50. Jennie Rigg, Branch secretary, Brighouse Liberal Democrats 51. Steven Haynes, Northfield Liberal Democrats, MDO 52. Joy Winder, Manchester, former Councillor 53. Karen Chilvers, Brentwood, Essex 54. Maria Pretzler, Swansea & Gower 55. Lance Idiabor-Moses, Leeds Central and Yorkshire and the Humber Liberal Youth 56. Kevin White, Liverpool 57. Penny Burgess, Cotswolds 58. Peter Reisdorf, West Kirby 59. Graham Hopgood, Hastings & St Leonards 60. John Richardson, Newark 61. Iain Donaldson, Manchester 62. Tim Allan, Newcastle Central 63. Alan Neil Webb, Amber Valley 64. Kat Dadswell, Liverpool 65. Bevis Maun, Manchester 66. Stuart Wheatcroft, Carlisle 67. James Rowe, Barnsley 68. Gareth Peter Jones, Swansea 69. Graeme Cowie, Glasgow 70. Martin Veart, Edinburgh 71. Louise Shaw, Stockport 72. Leon Duveen, Bassetlaw & Sherwood 73. Ian Morris, Doncaster 74. Jason Kay, Folkestone 75. Stephen Clarke, Tower Hamlets 76. Jack Cartwright, Brighton 77. Andy Spracklen, Manchester 78. Jock Coats, Oxford 79. Andrew Hardwick, Manchester 80. George Potter, Guildford 81. Hywel Morgan, Calderdale 82. Harry Matthews, Sheffield 83. Callum Morton, Colchester 84. Robert Pitt, London 85. Colin Walklin, Canterbury 86. Rev Simon Wilson, Broadland 87. James Howitt, Salisbury 88. Jonathan Bates, Southampton 89. Andrew Tennant, Charnwood 90. Jonathan Lancaster, York Central 91. Gary McKenna, Salford 92. David Roberts-Jones, Cheadle 93. Riff Devin, Dudley 94. Lee Thacker, Rhondda Cynon Taff 95. Iain Coleman, Edinburgh 96. Martin Tod, Winchester 97. Shaun Young, Portsmouth 98. Martin Gentles, Battersea 99. Caron Lindsay, Dunfermline & West Fife 100. Valerie Talacko, Prague 101. Rob Parsons, Lewes 102. Ron Stafford, Warrington 103. Will Howells, London. 104. Richard Struck, North Bedfordshire 105. Lois Norton, Wealden 106. Frank Little, Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats 107. Andrew Hickey, Manchester 108. Ed Trelinski, Rugby 109. Leslie K. Clark, Aberdeen South 110. Sam Bennet, Greater Reading Lib Dems 111. Aidan McGuire, Southport Lib Dems 112. Bob Browning, Ealing

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Faith Communities and Organ Donation

The letter below was published in the Eastern Daily Press (Feb 27th 2012)

I am afraid that I must take issue with some of the comments made by John Ferguson (Solution is Simple, EDP 22/2) relating to the supposed attitudes of the Church regarding organ transplant.

Christian Church leaders, along with colleagues from other faith communities remain at the forefront on the ongoing debate around issues such as the campaign for presumed consent.

Church of England teaching and synodical policy suggests that organ donation be a Christian duty, in keeping with giving oneself and one's possessions freely-The ready willingness to donate an organ is a clear sign of that sacrificial self-giving for others patterned by Jesus Christ.

Pope John Paul 2nd declared that, "Every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value… Here lies the nobility of a gesture which is a genuine act of love. There is a need to instil in people's hearts a genuine and deep love that can find expression in the decision to become an organ donor."

The Methodist Church has consistently supported organ donation and transplantation in appropriate circumstances, as a means through which healing and health may be made possible.

Of course, we all grieve differently and pastoral sensitivity has to be at the
heart of this issue;

Jesus Christ demonstrated with his own life how, even in sorrow, love enables us to embrace
the needs of others. We can choose to donate our organs to save the lives of many people. The decision to donate at the end of life is the beginning of healing for many others. As a disabled person myself, I know that healing and saving life is a great gift. Jesus sent his twelve disciples out with the imperative to heal disease and illness and care for the sick; we are called to
do likewise.