On Thursday 10th January 2012 Mark Reckless MP joined children, parents and guests, including the Mayor of Medway, to attend the academy dedication service for St James’ C of E Primary Academy School on the Isle of Grain.
The service, held in the wonderful Norman church of St James, Grain, which neighbours the school, was very well attended. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, led the dedication service following the school’s conversion to a Church Academy.
The St James’ school has been co-sponsored by the Rochester Anglican Diocesan Board of Education and The Williamson Trust.
Following the event Mark Reckless said:
“I was delighted to join both pupils and staff this morning at Grain church to celebrate the conversion of the school to an academy. This is an excellent opportunity for the school to build on the solid progress which has been made recently, giving them the freedom to take a pragmatic and effective approach to the education of children in Grain and the surrounding villages.
I would like to wish head teacher, Mrs Ginny Wilson, and everyone involved with the school the best of luck with their new academy status and I look forward to visiting again in the future.”
Following my last blog post on The Archbishops’ Council’s extraordinary evidence given to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which suggested that the Government re-educate Eurosceptics and that the Prime Minister’s veto in December left the UK “without credibility”, I have received a response, not just from the Archbishops’ Council, but the Lord Bishop of Guildford, Chair of the ‘House of Bishops Europe Panel.’
Their letter is surprisingly positive and seems to break new ground, determining that “there is an emerging consensus in favour of a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU”. I have replied to welcome the Church’s new stance.
In the last couple of weeks, the British Chambers of Commerce has recognised EU regulation and legislation makes British businesses less competitive in the global market and David Cameron has said that he is prepared to ‘consider’ an EU referendum (of some sort, albeit not an In/Out referendum immediately.) Now, the Church has revised its view and supports a referendum.
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It was recently my pleasure to attend the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee service at Rochester Cathedral shortly after installation ceremonies for both our new Dean, the Very Reverend Dr Mark Beach and the new Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend James Langstaff. I also enjoyed working under our Dean’s chairmanship last week to seek out common ground with the Occupy Faith movement on their march from St Paul’s to Canterbury.
I was shocked, however, to see that the Church of England appears to have told MPs that the Government needs to re-educate Eurosceptics. Its Archbishops’ Council has stated to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that it is unfortunate the Government’s referendum lock “ties the Government’s hands” into holding a referendum on future European Union treaty changes, claiming that the Prime Minister’s veto in December left the UK “without credibility”, and that we risk the “travesty” of splitting from the European Union.
Indeed, the evidence prepared by the Church of England’s ‘Mission and Public Affairs team’ reads as if it is a missive from pro-European Union lobbyists, rather than a document befitting a Church ministering to the people of Britain, over 80% of whom want a referendum on Europe.
The work of the Church of England and its Cathedral in Rochester are generally welcome and praiseworthy. The Archbishops’ Council’s extraordinary political intervention, however, is the reverse and a travesty of the gospel to ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’