Homeowners have to pay for church repairs – by law

From the National Secular Society, 27 Feb 2014:

Stottesdon-cchurch-repairsAn archaic law left over from the reign of Henry VIII has caused anger in a Shropshire village after a number of households found out they could be liable for paying for repairs at their local church.

Notices informing residents that claims against their properties had been made by their local parochial church council has left villagers in Stottesdon reeling.

Michael and Eunice Evans, who are a third generation family to farm land in Stottesdon, told the Shropshire Star that the letter had caused great anxiety.

“It’s not a very Christian thing to do at all,” said Mrs Evans.

“Our families are rooted in Stottesdon and we’ve always supported the church, but we’ve been put off now. We feel badly let down because of the financial implications for us and future generations.”

Mrs Evans added: “The notice we had was quite frightening and we’ve lost sleep over it.”

Under ancient ecclesiastical law, chancel repair liability gives ancient churches the right to demand financial contributions towards repairs to its chancel from local property owners.

Since October 2010 the Government and the Charity Commission have enabled parochial church councils (the churches’ charity trustees) to register chancel repair liability against affected property titles. Owners of properties with registrations against them are likely to see a fall in the value, or even saleability, of their property.

According to the Land Registry, properties in around 5,300 parishes in England and Wales are subject to chancel repair liability. Registration notices have recently been served on around 12,000 properties in around 250 parishes. Another 5,000 parishes that are eligible to do so have not registered any interests.
Elaine Hession, one of the organisers of a local campaign against chancel repair liability in Stottesdon, told the National Secular Society that she was shocked when the letter came through the post.

“We had no knowledge of this liability whatsoever so it came as a total shock to receive a Legal Notice from the Land Registry advising us that the local church were registering this claim against our property.

“In our correspondence with the Hereford Diocese, not once have they addressed the pain and suffering caused by this decision to register or expressed any regret for the distress this has caused. This has been one of the most stressful things we have had to deal with and has had a very negative impact on our health and happiness. I know the others affected here in Stottesdon feel the same.”

Jonathan Hill, another resident whose home subject is to registration, said: “I am deeply distressed by the situation I find myself in. Behind every faceless Land Registry title number, of the properties that have had chancel repair liability registered against them, are ordinary people deeply affected by the registration against their home and property.”

The National Secular Society has been actively campaigning for the abolition of chancel repair liability, and have involved parliamentarians and senior figures in the Ministry of Justice and the Church.

Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns manager, said: “Real hardship is being caused, and both the Government and the Church of England need to recognise this.
“Most people will acknowledge ancient churches are part of our heritage, but it is completely unfair that money for repairing them can be demanded from local property owners, often unconnected with the church. It’s time this ancient law was consigned to the annals of history where it belongs and a fairer way found to preserve our common heritage.”

A petition urging the Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling to abolish chancel repair liability can be signed at Change.org.

20 March meeting: Dr Charles West on the NHS

Charles WestWhy has the NHS been the envy of health service providers around the world?
Why do politicians constantly try to change it?
What is happening to the NHS now and what will be the effect of the latest changes?
What can you do about it?

On Thursday 20 March Dr Charles West will be addressing these issues at the meeting of Shrewsbury Humanist Group, 7.30 pm at The Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG.
Dr West has had a long career of service in the NHS both locally and nationally, having worked as a GP, an NHS manager and a specialist in Information and IT.

Humanist Celebrants in Shropshire

2014-02-20_113030We humans have a need for some ritual and ceremony to mark important stages in our lives, and for thirty years or so, humanist celebrants have been helping families whose lives don’t involve religion to organise funerals, baby-naming, partnership and wedding ceremonies which are meaningful to them.

Celebrants who have trained with the British Humanist Association, and are accredited by them, follow established guidelines and work to an agreed standard. They always visit their clients and together with them create a ceremony which is personal, dignified and relevant to them.

We now have a list of celebrants in Shropshire.

If you live outside Shropshire, you can find a local celebrant through the British Humanist Association. The BHA publishes three booklets which are helpful for those thinking about a non-religious ceremony: Funerals Without God, Sharing the Future and New Arrivals. They all contain suggestions for wording and whole ceremonies to give you some ideas and can be obtained from the BHA website or by telephoning 020 7324 3069.

Honor Diaries: To raise awareness on International Women’s Day, 8 March

Hayley Cropper’s funeral: Simon Nightingale, local Humanist celebrant, comments on radio

200px-Hayley_Cropper1Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper’s Humanist funeral was screened to a huge audience. This is not the first Humanist funeral in the Street – Alma Baldwin’s funeral in 2001 was also a Humanist one. Simon Nightingale, a Shrewsbury hospital consultant, is a Humanist celebrant, and has officiated at many funerals. He was asked to comment on Shropshire Radio’s early morning program about Hayley’s funeral and also a bit about suicide and assisted dying.

This can be heard again for a few more days by going to:
and listening on the time-line between 1:18:00 and 1:26.00.

Many people who aren’t religious know they wouldn’t want a church funeral for themselves but aren’t really sure what else is available. Hayley’s funeral will certainly let people know that there is an alternative – and that it’s a really good one.

Humanist celebrants conduct bespoke non-religious funerals in crematoria, burial grounds and other settings. Everyone is unique and leads a different life. The funeral reflects this and focuses on that person as an individual. By giving Hayley a humanist funeral, Corrie is reflecting what many of us now want from funerals. People want an occasion that is about celebrating a life led and the relationships forged with family and friends, as well as being able to share sadness.

When preparing a funeral, the celebrant visits those closest to the person that has died to find out about their life and what is wanted from the occasion. He/she advises on music, readings and contributions from other people and then goes away and writes a unique ceremony. Humanist funerals are completely flexible. There are no rules or set script. The celebrant’s role is about helping to create a funeral that’s just right for that person that has died.

Hayley Cropper’s life has been a colourful one, even for a soap character. The first transgender character in a UK soap, the final storyline has stirred up debate around ‘right to die’ issues as Hayley took her own life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Humanist celebrants also mark the other important stages of life and the British Humanist Association accredits celebrants for non-religious baby naming and wedding ceremonies as well as funerals.

You can see a short video about humanist funerals at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28FxOKDpobE and read more at https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/non-religious-funerals/.

The British Humanist Association has around 300 celebrants in its Humanist Ceremonies network. It is estimated that around 750,00 people each year attend a humanist baby naming, wedding or funeral ceremony.

For more information about local funerals, weddings and baby namings, please contact us at info@shropshire.humanist.org.uk or your local Humanist group.

Ludlow and Marches Humanists: change to programme

ludlowThe Ludlow and Marches Humanists have announced a change to their programme. The February talk on Alfred Russel Wallace has been postponed to March, and they are therefore bringing forward the March discussion.

The first meeting is on Tuesday 18 February, 7.30pm, at The Friends Meeting House, St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ. The topic is ‘Humanist Hot Potatoes’ – what topic really gets you exercised? Bring it to the meeting and see what others think. For more information email: rocheforts [at] tiscali.co.uk. All are welcome.

The 18 March meeting is a a talk on The Forgotten Evolutionist, by Fred Langford Edwards. He received a grant from the Wellcome Trust in 2007 for a 30 month project to research and promote the contributions of Wallace. This project included travel to the Malay Archipelago with collaborator George Beccaloni. Fred is an independent artist with a good scientific understanding based in Llandudno, North Wales.

The future programme of the Ludlow and Marches Humanists is currently:

15 April – ‘Choosing the Buddhist Path – meditation in the Marches’ talk by Elizabeth Sommerville, from The Samatha Meditation Centre.
20 May – Annual General Meeting. Appropriate video and cake on offer.
June: Summer Social

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