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The Churches Network for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma has written an open letter expressing concern over the distress caused to Gypsy and Traveller communities by the new Planning Policy for Traveller sites issued in August 2015.

The Churches Network, which includes representation from the United Reformed Church, the Council for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and the Salvation Army, said: 'as Churches we have a responsibility to affirm, welcome and celebrate the many diverse ethnicities and cultures and challenge all forms of social exclusion and marginalisation, and we share the concern of Gypsies and Travellers about the impact this policy will have on their lives.

'Of all the guidance in the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, the part that has caused greatest anxiety is the definition of Gypsies and Travellers which effectively removes Gypsy or Traveller status for people who have settled permanently. This denies to people in "bricks and mortar" (houses) the aspiration to live within the customs of their culture.

'To people on private or council-run Traveller sites it raises fears about the security of their tenure. In particular, people with temporary planning permission for a Traveller site are fearful that their home will cease to attract planning permission when the period of the temporary permission has expired, and that they will then face eviction.'

The United Reformed Church has developed a set of resources, @home in a strange place, to help churches and church groups talk about migration.

The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, secretary for global and intercultural ministries, said: 'The church cannot shy away from the issue of migration – while some politicians are using fear tactics to scaremonger voters into believing that migration is dangerous to our society, while far right groups are on the rise in Europe, and while hate crimes against religious and racial minorities are becoming more frequent.

Read more: We need a better conversation about migration

Shrewsbury United Reformed Church welcomed 16 new members at the last communion service of the Revd Tim Harword's 29-year ministry in Shrewsbury on 1 May.

The members – one youth member and 15 full members – range in age from 13 to the eighties. 'It's delightful. I think it is good for the future, and a vote of confidence in the church,' said Mr Harwood, who is due to retire at the end of this month.

Read more: Shrewsbury URC welcomes 16 new members

A new poem from Lucy Berry

Camden* believed it was this quick;
that the no-place between two places
could hold forgiveness of life-long wrong:
Betwixt the stirrup and the ground
Mercy I ask’d, Mercy I found.

Read more: Purgatory