Parliament told no solution at hand for church bat crisis: The Church of England Newspaper, July 28, 2013, p 6. August 1, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: bats, church architecture, Second Church Estates Commissioner
Bats are destroying British churches, the Second Church Estates Commissioner Sir Tony Baldry told Parliament. Speaking in response to a question from the member for Bury North, Mr. David Nuttall (Cons.) on the “ effects of bats in churches”, on 4 July 2013 Sir Tony said the “present situation” of 6400 churches infested with bats was “simply unsustainable.”
“A small number of bats living in a church can be manageable, but parish churches are finding an increasing number of bats taking up residence in large roosts. There are significant costs in financial and human terms to those who worship in these churches, and to the wider community,” he said.
Sir Tony noted “Parish churches have to raise the money for bat litigation at considerable cost to their community, and that can prevent their own mission and ministry,” citing the case of St Hilda’s Ellerburn which had spent “a total of £29,000 so far, which is a significant sum for a small congregation to finance.”
“As yet, there is no resolution in sight,” to the bat problem, he said. However the member for Bristol East, Ms. Kerry McCarthy (Lab.) rose to speak on behalf of bats, asking if the Church Commissioners would foster dialogue between the Bat Conservation Trust and the Church Buildings Council?
Sir Tony responded this was not “an issue that can be managed. Large numbers of churches are being made unusable by large numbers of bats roosting in them. Churches are not field barns; they are places of worship”
He added that he had “a number of letters from clergy up and down the country saying how distressing it was for them, before they could celebrate communion on Sunday, to have to clear bat faeces and bat urine off the altar and the communion table. That is not acceptable.”
He told the House bat infestation was “not a joking matter. This is serious and people have to understand that. I am grateful for the attention paid to this issue by the Under-Secretary. We are making real progress, but we need to ensure that [churches] can continue to be places of worship and are not closed as a consequence of bat faeces and bat urine.”
Second Church Estates Commissioner rejects govt’s gay marriage bill: The Church of England Newspaper, February 8, 2013 February 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Politics.
Tags: David Cameron, gay marriage, Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill, Parliament, Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry
The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry MP, broke ranks with his party’s leadership this week and spoke against adoption of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill.
Rising to speak during the debate following the Second Reading of the Bill, Sir Tony stated that while he would vote against the bill, he wished to thank the government for their assurances that the legislation would protect religious freedom.
Speaking in his capacity as Second Church Estates Commission, Sir Tony said he wanted to “make clear to the House the views of the Church of England on the provisions that the Government have included to safeguard religious freedoms. Let me make it clear that I entirely accept the Government’s good faith in this matter and am appreciative, as is the Bishop of Leicester, who convenes the Bishops in the other place, and as are senior Church officials, of the attempts the Government have made.”
He noted the government was correct in ensuring that “every Church and denomination can reach its own conclusion on these matters and be shielded so far as possible from the risk of litigation” and he accepted the government’s pledge that the “quadruple locks” would protect the rights of the Church of England.
“The so-called quadruple locks are sensible and necessary,” he said, adding the “simple point” is that the Church of England and the Church in Wales “have not wanted anything different in substance from all other Churches and faiths—namely, to be left entirely free to determine their own doctrine and practice in relation to marriage.”
However, Sir Tony noted the Church of England was not a creature of Parliament. While it had a common law duties to marry all parishioners, the issue was rather “complex” as its “canon law remains part of the law of the land and it also has its own devolved legislature which, with Parliament’s agreement, can amend Church legislation and Westminster legislation.”
He noted that in changing marriage, the government was creating a “number of extremely difficult second-order issues. Although the failure to consummate a marriage will still be a ground on which a heterosexual marriage can be voidable, the Bill provides that consummation is not to be a ground on which a marriage of a same-sex couple will be voidable.”
“It also provides that adultery is to have its existing definition—namely, sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. It therefore follows that divorce law for heterosexual couples will be fundamentally different from divorce law for same-sex couples, because for heterosexual couples the matrimonial offence of adultery will persist while there will be no similar matrimonial offence in relation to same-sex marriage. The fact that officials have been unable to apply these long-standing concepts to same-sex marriage is a further demonstration of just how problematic is the concept of same-sex marriage.”
“There is an inevitable degree of risk in all this,” he said. While the “Government believe that this is a risk worth taking. The Church of England does not.” Sir Tony said.
Knighthood for Second Church Estates Commissioner: The Church of England Newspaper, June 19, 2012 June 23, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry
The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. On 16 June 2012, the London Gazette reported the Queen had conferred the honour of Knight Bachelor upon Antony Brian Baldry for “for public and political service.”
The member for Banbury (Cons.) in Parliament since 1983, Sir Tony was appointed Second Church Estates Commissioner by the coalition government in 2010.
Andrew Brown, Secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: “I am delighted that Tony Baldry has been awarded a knighthood. Sir Tony plays a vital role in the link between the Church and Parliament, regularly answering questions on Church matters in the House of Commons.
“Since his appointment as Second Commissioner two years ago, he has worked tirelessly to ensure both Church and State understand each other, and encourages each to work together for the benefit of the whole country.”
Sir Tony said: “I am very proud to have been made a Knight, particularly in the Birthday Honours of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
“All the work in which I am involved as an MP, from campaigns on the Horton Hospital, to campaigns with the Churches, are team efforts, and I hope that I will always be an effective advocate for such campaigns.”
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: gay marriage, Parliament, Second Church Estates Commissioner
The Church of England will be making a submission to the government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Mr. Tony Baldry told Parliament last week.
On 1 March 2012, the member for Wellingborough, Mr. Peter Bone, (Con.) asked what “recent representations he has received on the implications for the Church Commissioners of the Government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage.”
Mr. Baldry stated the Church of England would be making a “detailed submission to the forthcoming consultation exercise, which will provide an opportunity for a more focused critique of what is proposed, including the proposal to distinguish in law between civil and religious marriage.”
In response Mr. Bone asked if it would not be simpler “just to write back and say, ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman so this is completely nuts’?”
The Second Church Estates Commissioner declined to be drawn over the sanity of the government’s plans, but noted that “so far as the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and many other faith groups are concerned, marriage is a union between one man and one woman. That is a point that we will be putting forward, I hope, responsibly and clearly in the consultation.”
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
Bell ringing questions in Parliament: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012 p 6. March 15, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Campanology, Second Church Estates Commissioner
The Church of England remains keen to support campanology, the Second Church Estates Commissioner told Parliament last week.
In response to a question from the member for Pendle, Mr. Andrew Stephenson (Con.) who asked what steps the Church Commissioners were taking to “promote bell ringing,” Mr. Tony Baldry stated that a “general fund provides grants to enable the repair and maintenance of historic bell towers.”
He added that the Church of England was “delighted” that bell ringing in churches would take “centre stage” during the diamond jubilee and Olympic celebrations.
Mr. Stephenson informed the House that the bell ringers of St Mary-le-Ghyll church in Barnoldswick had raised more than £60,000 to add three bells to their church, and were in the process of raising funds to add an additional two bells.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner stated this was a “fantastic achievement” and expressed his hope that all six bells would ring out on 3 June 2012 to coincide with the river pageant on the River Thames.
“I am glad to report to the House that the lead barge—the herald barge—will contain a floating belfry, the first of its kind with a new ring of eight bells cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Each of the royal jubilee bells will have the royal arms cast on it and will be named after a senior member of the royal family. The bells will go down the Thames and ring a quarter peal on the river, with the church bells along the route providing a musical response. It is hoped that at 3 pm on 3 June bells throughout England will ring out to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee,” Mr. Baldry said.
The speaker congratulated the Second Church Estates Commissioner for the breadth of his knowledge on bells, saying “no one could accuse the hon. Gentleman of providing the House with insufficient information.”
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.
Women clergy now make up 15 per cent of Anglican clerics: The Church of England Newspaper, October 27, 2009, p 6.10.27.09 October 27, 2009Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
Tags: Anne McIntosh, Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Stuart Bell
Women vicars comprised 15 per cent of the parochial-incumbent status clergy of the Church of England at the close of 2007, the Second Church Estates Commissioner told Parliament last week.
At the end of 1997, six per cent of parochial-incumbent status clergy — or 426 overall — were women, whereas in 2007, 15 per cent, or 974, were women,” Sir Stuart Bell said on Oct 15. However, the number of full-time parochial clergy had also fallen over the past 10 years, from 7,471 at the end of 1997 to 6,450 on Dec 31, 2007.
The member for the Vale of York, Miss Anne McIntosh (Con) asked Sir Stuart what the Church of England would do to arrest this decline and “increase the number of parish priests, particularly in rural areas.”
“Because the number of priests has fallen, the size and number of parishes that they are being asked to look after has risen. That is putting huge pressure on them, and is obviously quite stressful,” Miss McIntosh said.
Sir Stuart responded that the Church of England was “keen for stipends to be flexible enough to allow it to put clergy where they can best be deployed, consistent with preventing their mobility from being impeded.” He added that the number of ordinands had also risen to 552 in 2007, “the highest number since 2000.”
The Church of England welcomed the “upward trend” but “owing to deaths and retirements the number of stipendiary clergy is falling overall,” he said. The Church recognised that the amalgamation of parishes, particularly in rural areas had increased the “work load of priests,” Sir Stuart said, “but how we deal with it shall have to be discussed with the Archbishops’ Council.”