Religion News 22 June

Pic: English Heritage

English Heritage live streamed the rising of the sun at Stonehenge, to commemorate the summer solstice this weekend. More than 220,000 people tuned in. Despite the fact that gatherings were cancelled due to the coronavirus, a few people did arrive at the Stones in the wind, rain and mist, for a socially distanced celebration. The solstice is an important festival for pagans and druids – read more here.

Wave House Pentecostal church in Newquay, Cornwall, held an open air service on Sunday with the congregation joining from their parked cars, with some leaning out of windows. The Rev. Matt Timms won support from his MP before the country council granted permission. Matt Timms is a passionate surfer, and a member of Christian Surfers UK, which evangelises among surfers in coastal towns throughout the UK.

The Methodist Church has published guidelines for churches to raise awareness of sexual harassment, support victims, and ensure all churches are places where people meet safely. Jill Baker, Chair of the Methodist Council said the guidelines were “seeking to respond to a number of confidential disclosures while I was Vice-President of the Conference a few years ago. These made it very clear that, sadly, there are many within our Church who have experienced sexual harassment.” In a film alongside the guidelines, the church says the project aims to “initiate a change of mind-set and behaviours to take responsibility away from victims and bring those who harass to task.” In 2015, the church issued a public apology after an investigation discovered 2000 alleged abusers over the previous 50 years.


A statue of Father Junipero Serra, who founded Christian missions in California in the 18th century, has been razed to the round in Los Angeles. Civic leaders have vowed to remove other statues of him in the state. Serra was canonized as a saint by Pope Francis during a trip to the United States in 2015. But protesters want his statues brought down because he beat and enslaved Native Americans, who were forced to live and word in the missions.

Black Roman Catholics in the United States are calling for an investment in schools to combat racism, a cause which they say requires the same zeal as the campaign against abortion. The Associated Press is reporting that the Rev. Mario Powell, a black priest who leads a Jesuit middle school in Brooklyn, says the closure of Catholic inner-city schools should be reversed and all Catholic schools should teach the history of Black Catholics in America.