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Newbigin research centre now open

Last month, as part of the second annual Lesslie Newbigin Summer Institute programme, the Newbigin Centre for Gospel and Western Culture was officially launched at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. More than 60 people attended the launch event, including academics, leaders in culture, business and church life, and mission partners.

The centre's director, Paul Weston, outlined his vision for the Newbigin Centre at the launch event, explaining how the centre aims to attract research students for MPhil and PhD degrees on themes relating the Gospel and western culture, and to develop resources for the wider Church. The Revd John Proctor, general secretary of the United Reformed Church, also spoke at the event.

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Magna Carta barons appear in Salisbury

Statue of the conceptual baron outside Salisbury URC © The Barons' Charter

In honour of the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary this year, an art trail has been set up through Salisbury – home to the best preserved of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta.

The trail features 25 life-sized statues of medieval barons representing the discontented barons of medieval England who created the charter, limiting the power of King John.

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Riding High for Mozambique

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Last Friday, 14 August, Helen Hogg the Northern Synod’s finance officer travelled to Bethesda in Wales, to ride a zipwire to raise funds for the synod’s Mozambique Fund.

Helen’s desire to raise money for the IPM (Igreja Presbiteriana de Mocambique) Presbyterian Church of Mozambique, followed Helen's visit to the IPM’s central offices in Maputo, Mozambique earlier in the year.

The zipwire at Penrhyn Quarry offers riders the closest experience a human being can get to skydiving without actually leaping out of a plane – it involves flying head-first down a mountain for just under one mile, exceeding speeds of 100mph.

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Stop lowering the level of immigration debate, churches tell government

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Leaders of four UK Churches have called on the Government to rethink the way it speaks about migrants.

Today leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church issued a statement on the situation in Calais, emphasising the importance of public debate being grounded in values of compassion and of decisions being made on the basis of facts.

They called on the Government to adopt language which better reflects the British values of compassion, hospitality and respect for human dignity and to promote a more informed and higher level of debate.

"The language in which the Calais situation is being discussed tends too often to demonise, denigrate or dehumanise the individuals seeking refuge in Britain. To talk of those gathering at Calais as a 'swarm', or 'marauding around the area' encourages people to see those in desperation as less than human, and so less deserving of sympathy, respect or dignity.

"The numbers involved do not warrant talk of an ‘invasion’ or ‘flood’ of migrants. The people at Calais represent a tiny fraction of the overall number of migrants who have entered the EU in the past year. In 2014, Germany took three times more asylum seekers than the UK's 14,000, and Sweden twice as many. France, Italy and Switzerland also granted asylum to more people than the UK.

"We welcome the affirmation by the Home Secretary that Europe would 'always provide protection for those genuinely fleeing conflict or persecution'. We share the concern of all involved to see a peaceful and humane solution to this particular expression of a far broader catastrophe."

The Churches have also asked the Government to recognise that most migrants cannot be returned to their country of origin and to accept the need for the UK to take its share of migrants.