Bishop supports call for churches to combat knife crime

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Churches will be encouraged to offer a place of sanctuary for young people as part of efforts to combat knife crime and serious youth violence.

The proposal will be part of a key debate to be held at the Church of England’s General Synod next month.

The news comes a day after a 14-year-old boy was seriously injured in a stabbing in Handbridge, Chester.

The Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead, says: “I was shocked and saddened to learn that a boy of 14 has been seriously injured in Chester. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

“We can all do better at reducing violence in our society. Our churches are uniquely placed to offer a spiritual dimension to our communities and I welcome the debate at General Synod to explore what practical and pastoral measures our church leaders and churches can take to support those at risk of violence or affected by it.”


Bishop Keith Sinclair

The Revd Canon Dr Rosemarie Mallett, a priest in Angell Town, south London, and a prominent campaigner in combating knife crime, will lead the debate at the General Synod in York.

She will call for churches to take a range of practical measures - from providing knife amnesty bins, to training clergy and other leaders to protect young people potentially vulnerable to ‘county lines’ exploitation.
 
Speaking ahead of the debate, Dr Mallett said: “We must work with other organisations to find the best way to support young people in our parishes and our schools, and to be part of the solution to the challenges - not only of serious youth violence, but the whole issue of young people who fall through the system.”
 
Serious youth violence will be one of the major issues discussed at the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, when it meets at York University between Friday 5 July and Tuesday 9 July.

The Revd Jonathan Phillips, Priest-in-Charge of St Peter's Chester, spoke with BBC Merseyside on Sunday 23 June and said that relationship is at the heart of ministry to children and young people.

The Revd Jonathan says: "Last year, our church drummed up the cash to employ a children's and youth worker with the very goal of setting up an after-school club at St. Peter's which is starting in September. It's all about relationship... it's about significant adults that show respect and show love; who are trained and engaged and actually take the time to be with these young people and listen to them. [The Church] needs to make sure that these good, well-meaning people don't start over a three-month sprint and then burn out - we need to make sure the training is consistent and long-term."

 


Listen to the Revd Jonathan Phillips speak to BBC Merseyside


 

In the east of the Diocese, churches are responding to the challenge of youth knife crime.

The Revd Dr John Harries, and others from the Macclesfield Team Ministry, together with local MP David Rutley have met with the police and other agencies to discuss how best to respond. Plans include working with current and ex-offenders to attend Macclesfield Academy to enlighten students about how young people can fall into criminality and gang culture. A follow-up information evening for parents and the wider community will be taking place at St Michael and All Angels' Church in Macclesfield next month. 

For one-to-one support and advice on all aspects of youth and children's ministry, please contact Jonny Masters at Church House, Daresbury. 

 


 

General Synod, July 2019

The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England. It came into being in 1970 under the Synodical Government Measure 1969, replacing an earlier body known as the Church Assembly. Members are due to meet in July. Read more here about what is planned for debate and discussion