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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.

Read more: Newbigin research centre now open


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.

Read more: Riding High for Mozambique

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.

The Jewish community in Britain is being encouraged to engage in prayer and spiritual reflection on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East

The Council of Christians and Jews' If Not Now, When? campaign urges Jews of all traditions to pray for the Christian community in the Middle East throughout the month of August.

The deputy director of the Council of Christians and Jews, Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko, said that the month of prayer was designed to increase compassion and empathy for both sides of the organisation. "This unique campaign has united all dominations in the Jewish community, which is quite rare, to stand together. It is a springboard for the future," she said.

To inspire springboard for prayer and other forms of spiritual reflection, the council has also created a general resource with information about Christians in the Middle East and ideas for personal and communal responses.