12th May - Forthcoming local elections. The Church Leaders in the ecumenical region of "Shire and Soke" (Northants and Peterborough) have issued the following statement:
Statement by the Church Leaders of Shire and Soke
We represent thousands of Christians in Northamptonshire and Peterborough, from all the mainstream denominations of churches.
Our care is not only for our members, but also for the communities in which we and they live, work and worship. We are charged with pursuing the common good of all people, but especially those who are in particular need and who find themselves marginalised and disadvantaged in our society. We cannot stand by when groups and individuals are maligned, misrepresented and singled out for verbal or even physical abuse.
In a democracy it is even more alarming when prejudices founded upon country of origin, race or religion become part of a political platform, and are offered to the electorate for endorsement.
So we wish to express in the strongest terms our distaste for any political platform which has the effect of destabilising communities through the use of misinformation, scare stories and inflammatory rhetoric and which should be resisted and not rewarded, be it via the ballot box, silent assent or public endorsement. The presence in our communities of Migrant Workers in significant number undoubtedly raises issues which have to be addressed. However, these issues must be addressed in an informed and balanced way according to the highest standards of civilised society and mutual respect.
There is now sufficient evidence to confirm that Migrant Workers are vital to the economic well-being of our region, and they can also greatly enrich the cultural life of our communities if encouraged to do so.
Finally, we further confirm that the core beliefs and policies of the BNP are inconsistent with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, and for the avoidance of doubt, we confirm that no Ordained Ministers from any of our Churches will be standing as BNP candidates in the forthcoming elections.
Rt Revd Frank White, Church of England Bishop of Brixworth
Rt Revd Peter Doyle, Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton
Revd Helen Wordsworth, Central Baptist Association Regional Minister
Revd Alison Tomlin, Methodist Northampton District Chair
Revd Terry Oakley, East Midlands Synod, United Reformed Church Moderator
Major Jonathan Roberts, Salvation Army East Midlands Division Divisional Commander
1st April - All Change in Bedfordshire where the former county has, on this date, split into two Unitary Authorities, which will each combine county and district functions. Central Bedfordshire includes all the southern towns from Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable via Flitwick, Shefford and Biggleswade up to Sandy. The HQ is at Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands SG17 5TQ, and the phone number is 0300 3008000. Bedford Borough Council looks after the town and the northern part of the county and has only changed in absorbing the County's responsibilities: the HQ is still at the Town Hall, St Pauls Square, Bedford MK40 1SJ, phone 01234 267422. See the revised map of the Diocese here,
1st April - CONGRATULATIONS to the Northampton group of the Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT) who have raised £15,000 this year to take children from the diocese to Lourdes at Easter, thanks to the generosity of people from around the local Catholic community! Pictured is Group Leader Liam Connolly who did a sponsored parachute jump.