Rt Revd Stephen Lake, the new Bishop of Salisbury, gave away £10,000 during his inauguration service. Each person attending the service was given an envelope containing £10. Using the parable of the ten talents he encouraged them to use their resources to be a blessing to people and for the good of the kingdom of God. Two anonymous donors gave a total of £10,000 to make the idea possible. ‘This is your talent,’ Bishop Stephen said, ‘What will you do with it? Will you bury it, save it, or make it grow so that good can come from this?’ He suggested ideas of how to use the money which included buying a meal for someone struggling, donating to the local food bank, buying tiles for a church roof or taking someone lonely for a drink. Some people have already invested their money, giving to charities that are matching funds, and therefore multiplying their talents.

Worcester College, run by David Isaac, previously the chairman of the LGBTQ charity Stonewall, apologised to students for hosting a Christian Concern training camp and cancelled a second booking after a small number of students complained. But after being warned that the move could be discriminatory, the college has backed down and issued a statement saying that it was committed ‘to the right to freedom of speech and religious belief and the dignity of all people’. The joint statement with Christian Concern confirmed that the evangelical campaign group would now be invited to speak at the college, adding, ‘In a world where differing views are strongly and sincerely held, it is important to come together and listen to each other.’

To strengthen international efforts to ensure freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), the government will host an international conference in London on 5 and 6 July. Promoting FoRB is one of the UK’s long-standing human rights priorities. The government remains deeply concerned about the severity and scale of violations and abuses in many parts of the world. Persecuting or discriminating against people for their religion or belief is often linked to other foreign and development policy challenges. The summit will gather politicians and campaigners from over 50 countries to continue to make progress on the issue. This year the organisers are being approached by diplomatic representatives from countries with historically poor records on religious freedom and who aren't part of the alliance, saying they want to come.

The Commonwealth Games start Thursday 28th July and end Monday 8th August in  Birmingham. They are known as ‘the friendly games’. As thousands of athletes and officials arrive from the 54 nations, The World Prayer Centre wants to prepare a highway of blessing and thanksgiving. The team have joined with Gas Street Church in Central Birmingham for a service that will include worship led by Tim Hughes and Gas Street music, together with prayers and messages from countries including, The Caribbean, India, Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. It’s free to attend this powerful event on Saturday 16th July 2022 for an afternoon of celebration to welcome and bless the nations and territories of The Commonwealth to the UK. Between now and 28th of July we can pray for God to watch over the police and security teams, keeping them safe and giving them wisdom as they keep our streets free from violence.

After President Zelensky told NATO he wants the war to finish ‘before winter sets in’, the UK pledged an additional £1bn of military aid to Ukraine. This brings UK military aid to £2.3bn plus £1.5bn spent in humanitarian and economic support. (Ukraine’s monthly defence cost is £4.12bn). The new £1bn comes from departmental underspends plus £95 million from Welsh and Scottish government budgets. Questions remain about whether the aid will be sufficient. Also, the Defence Secretary wants the government to increase spending on UK armed forces - to be prepared to invest more to keep people safe. Army personnel are being cut from 82,000 to 73,000 soldiers after 2021’s defence review. The new head of the armed forces said he had never known such a clear threat ‘as the brutal aggression of President Putin’. He likened the Ukraine war to the build up to World War Two.

The religious organisation, Jehovah’s Witness, has kept details of molestation accusations against members over the last 25 years at its headquarters known as Bethel. Documentation obtained by The Telegraph newspaper shows that senior officials - known as elders - were asked in the late 1990s to log details of child abuse allegations and forward them on to Bethel in Chelmsford. The instruction to record and keep details of abuse has been repeated multiple times since then. The existence of a database of abuse allegations has already been established in America and Australia, but this is the first time it has been shown to be in Britain. In a statement, the Christian Congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses said current child protection policies instruct leaders to ‘make a report to the police wherever it appears that a child is in danger of abuse’. They did not, however, respond when asked if the historical database of allegations had been passed to the authorities.

Over £132m of taxpayers’ money for housing the most vulnerable people has been handed to providers who exploit the system. Huge sums in housing benefit for ‘exempt accommodation’ have been given to organisations since 2018 despite judgments and warnings from the Regulator of Social Housing. The figures cover 95 of over 300 local authorities. The true figure is far higher. Some bosses of non-profit organisations exploit regulation loopholes to steal money. Exempt accommodation is for women fleeing domestic violence, those with substance abuse and people leaving care, for which providers can claim higher rates of housing benefit and can also charge residents service fees on top of this. It is a booming industry that is beset by concerns raised by charities, police and government about the quality of support available to those in exempt accommodation, as well as cases of violence and sex work within properties.

A statutory body set up to monitor and review EU citizens’ rights after Brexit will review Home Office rules impacting 2.5 million European nationals living in the UK. The Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA) is challenging the Home Office decision to remove the rights of people living in the UK for less than five years before Brexit if they do not apply in time for permanent residency status. The rules mean they would be classed as undocumented migrants and lose their rights to reside, work, rent property or access services including the NHS. At worst, they could face deportation. The IMA argued the rules were a breach of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, which guaranteed the rights of EU citizens who were in the country before Brexit. There is also a real issue as to the potential application of EU law in the interpretation of the withdrawal agreement.

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