Monthly Archives: February 2022

Dear Editor

‘Let the silent Bell ring
Let the silent Bell sing
Throughout all lands
And to all peoples
With clarity
With charity
And with that Love
From Above’

I found myself writing this poem after reading a quote from Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala in Sweden, saying of George Bell as a young man:

“Nobody is more important to the future of the ecumenical revival than this silent Bell. The Bell never rings for nothing. But when it does ring, its tune is silver-clear”

Earlier this month, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey kindly read out my poem at one of two meetings in Chichester (‘Bishop Bell fund is launched at events’, Chichester Observer, Feb 10).

In his recently-published memoirs ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’, Lord Carey gives his own defence of the wartime Bishop of Chichester – Chapter 9 ‘George Bell, Prophet and Pioneer’ – in which he concludes:

“It seems that the only reputations wrecked and ruined were those whose rigidity of opinion had dumbfounded everyone”

At the February 4th event, George Carey said the actions of Bishop Bell’s accusers were “lamentable” and “unchristian”.

Three months ago, the present Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby retracted his original “significant cloud” accusation against Bishop George Bell, with an “I was wrong” apology.


But, astonishingly, nothing has yet been heard from Chichester’s ecclesiastical hierarchy – either from the present Bishop or the Cathedral Dean, who are keeping their own silence.

‘Silence is Golden
They say
I’m not so sure
Of that Silence
Nor They’


Yours sincerely


Richard W. Symonds
The Bell Society

THE BELL ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY – FEBRUARY 2022 – TO RESTORE BISHOP GEORGE BELL’S PLACE IN HISTORY

REBUILDING BRIDGES-BELL SOCIETY CONFERENCE – FEBRUARY 1 2022 [below]

‘Bell of Heaven’ by Tony Wheatley in November 2021 [before Archbishop Welby’s ‘I was wrong’ Statement]

[read by Richard Symonds -Feb 1 ’22

THE BELL ANNIVERSARY TRILOGY

  1. FEBRUARY 1 2022 – THE REBUILDING BRIDGES-BELL SOCIETY CONFERENCE – VICARS’ HALL, CHICHESTER

2. FEBRUARY 3 2022 – THE BISHOP GEORGE BELL INAUGURAL LECTURE – WESTMINSTER – LORD ALEX CARLILE CBE QC

3. FEBRUARY 4 2022 – THE BISHOP GEORGE BELL MEMORIAL FUND CONFERENCE – ASSEMBLY ROOMS, CHICHESTER

Lord  Carlile – Feb 3

My message is that the establishment of this fund and the restoration of George Bell’s amazing good name and his heroism should be the time when the Church of England says enough Is enough of bad regulation.

It is not built on anything fairly obscure, I hate to say this, like the Synod at the Church of England which acts like a state within a state which many of us feel is not a very professional one. 

I would like to hear what the present Bishop of Chichester will say in the light of the Archbishop’s recent statement. 

It’s easy to make a story it’s much harder to make a fair story

The answer to your question was that George Bell was not guilty and this has now been recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury

I don’t think there was any misunderstanding that people understood that I thought that the whole process was absolutely outrageous.

When I met the Archbishop he absolutely agreed that the present system is not fit for purpose.

We need the Synod which is regarded as a dinosaur, to wake itself up and recognise that it is not fit for purpose for the 21st century

I still remain mystified by the separate roles of the diocese, the Synod and other parts of the Church of England

If people say what is right even if it goes wrong for them in the beginning they are usually justified in the end. Bonhoeffer is an example

Lord  Carey – Feb 3

Today a new Fund is being launched in the name of the great 20th-century wartime leader, Bishop George Bell, specifically to support persecuted Christian pastors who are refugees. George Bell famously helped Lutheran pastors who opposed Hitler and had to flee for their lives. He, together with other British humanitarians such as Sir Nicholas Winton, recognised a need and acted upon it. There are still times today when Government inaction means that private individuals have to act in the wake of a crying need.

The George Bell Memorial Fund will help them free danger, despotism and violence, and travel to safety – whether they land on British shores or elsewhere. Sometimes it takes brave humanitarians like George Bell to stand up against even our own Government and bring the persecuted to safety.

We have now given birth to a process of safeguarding which is creating a culture of fear in the Church of England

We have got to go back to basics. In the meantime the Church of England is failing in its basic mission to people

This is a moment of time when change might happen. Knowing the incumbent In Lambeth P

( Q. There is no change in the air brushing out which shamefully took place in Chichester) Is the Bishop of Chichester obliged to make a statement or is the Archbishop’s statement 

Lord  Lexden – Feb 3

To hear from the Bishop who has been remarkably unsatisfactory following the statement of the Archbishop.

And so there is a contrast between Bishop Bell and the present incumbent as Bishop of Chichester who is far as I know has not said anything since the 2nd of December when he said

“The people who speak most about the allegations against Bishop and Bell are those who wish to clear his name. For my part whenever I speak of Bishop Bell as I often do when I refer to his patronage of the arts,  I never refer to the allegations against him I speak of his good achievements.  Is it not the case that the reputation is shaped by how people speak of another person”.  As if it were a compliment to apply those weasel words to his reputation

There is no sign of any response from anybody in Chichester. Can any of the panel give hope that that might change.

Did you or Tim Briden have any input into your terms of reference?

There has been a deafening silence from the Dean and chapter and to some extent from the Dean as well about the renaming of George Bell House.

The skeletons are dangling high like a candelabra across all the dioceses of the Church of England

 Or even rogue bishops take a strange view of the keys and doing the wrong things. I am delighted that the George Bell case is making progress but this is an Augean stables which needs cleaning up

Vasantha  there are some simple steps that the church could take when we send a letter. They could acknowledge it and say this is being dealt with by a certain person

I think it can be said that although he is dead that he lives. Not just in the memories of those who know who knew him but….

DR ANDREW CHANDLER – FEB 3

The organizers of this evening’s programme have kindly allowed me to send a Note to say how sorry I am that I cannot join you this evening. The new teaching term has broken out here in Chichester and most of my lectures have come to fall on Thursday and Friday morning. 

St Matthew’s Church is, of course, virtually around the corner from Westminster Abbey. This does possess a particular significance in view of tonight’s occasion because in 1998 ten new statues were unveiled, in the presence of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, above the Abbey’s Great West Door. These statues commemorated ten Christians of the twentieth century who gave their lives in witness to the Christian faith in diverse contexts of political, social or cultural injustice. What underlay that project was the acknowledgement that martyrdom revealed the place of Christians of all traditions in the heart of the turbulence of the twentieth-century world – and that it spoke of the terrible cost of this.  It was also important to show that martyrdom had become a reality not only to men and women whose names might be known in the world at large, but to those who were almost unknown, people who died barely observed and hardly remembered outside their own families and communities. So today you will find there the figure of a young South African woman, Manche Masemola, standing beside the Pole, Maximillian Kolbe and the Uganda Archbishop, Janani Luwum. 

This work was the inspiration of the Sub-Dean of Westminster, Anthony Harvey. It also had much to do with the figure of George Bell, whose anniversary you have come together to observe, not least because it came to involve the quite new George Bell Institute, with its various practical resources, and its diverse networks of research and collaboration in many countries. 

If there is an essential lesson at work in these ten statues, it is not merely that such figures belong to the West Front of Westminster Abbey. It is that they belong to us all. They speak not of a dead past but of realities that are still going on all around us. How , then should we judge our own responsibilities this evening?

The most famous prisoner of conscience in the 1930s, Martin Niemoeller, once said, “George Bell was a Christian who was led and driven by the love of Christ Jesus himself. He couldn’t see somebody suffering without suffering himself. He couldn’t see people left alone without becoming their brother.” This new fund, which bears George Bell’s name, provides a new way in which we can make a vision of solidarity meaningful and effective. Such a venture would have been wholly recognisable to Bell himself, for the world itself was ever alive within him and when he died his widow found that she could not mourn to see him finally released from his care for it all. Only by degrees are we coming to realise the coherence, and integrity, of his life and work and the reality of a ministry that was expressed in ongoing, often private acts of creative kindness to families he barely knew. 

In March 1946 George Bell broadcast an urgent appeal for money for the starving peoples of continental Europe. We should remember his words then, because they are words to us too. “Remember”, he said, “the spontaneousness of Christ … And do not wait till you can see your way clear through all stages.  You can begin here and now.’

Andrew Chandler

ADDRESS BY LORD CAREY – FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY – FEB 4

I am delighted to be here today for this meeting and launch of George Bell Memorial Fund for Refugees. I want to thank Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson for her contribution and our friend Dr. Chandler, who has done more than most to keep the memory of Bishop Bell alive. 

There is a challenging verse in 1 Kings 18 where King Arab meets Elijah and says ‘ Ah, there you are – the troubler of Israel!’ That was a trifle rich because Ahab was one of the most corrupt leaders of Israel. But to evil people good people are always seen as troublemakers – disturbers of the peace. George Bell was a troublemaker and all people who want to make real changes in our world are often seen as troublemakers. I want to salute all troublemakers present, because we are following in the footsteps of George Bell – valiant fighter for truth and indomitable troublemaker. Andrew Chandler is a troublemaker because he has used his considerable scholarship to protest against the treatment of a great man. Patrick Sookdeo is undoubtedly a troublemaker because he more than most has been vocal in his concerns for Christians in Muslim lands. Richard Symonds has been a brave and persistent dragon fly in the ear of the hierarchy; so has Ruth and many of us here. Sometimes it has to be done. George Kennedy Allen Bell was a troublemaker. He showed it persistently throughout his career. He was not always liked, respected – even within his own church and the government did not always appreciate his interventions.

I note with some amusement that in 1938 Bell was instrumental in getting valuable information from Bonhoeffer through to the British government but his activities were not always appreciated. Anthony Eden would say later ‘ I see no reason to encourage this pestilent priest’. I am sure that Eden was deliberately echoing the words that led to Thomas Becket’s murder – although I am quite sure that that was not what Eden intended – of course not. Bell was never going to relent in his concern for those suffering in German. Those who disturb the placid waters of cowardice and complacency will always be regarded as troublemakers. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that great German theologian, had a special relationship with George Bell. And Bell for his part had a close relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his friend, Franz Hildebrandt referring to them both as ‘my boys’.  They were all troublemakers.

What would Bell be concerned about today if he lived to share our times?

Without question, this man who cared so deeply for Jewish refugees would be angry about the plight of refugees today.

Every year the annual World Watch List produced each year by  Open Doors which identifies, in rank order, the various countries where persecution is prominent. It confirms the increasing trend, year on year, and reveals that over 360 million Christians worldwide — that’s 1 in 7 – now live under persecution.

Their conservative estimate is that last year 5898 Christians were killed for their faith,  5110 Churches and other Christian buildings were attacked or torn down, 6175 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned…and 3829 were abducted.

This is followed by the Release International Report on the situation, globally. Both reports identify that Afghanistan has become the No1 hotspot and there are a number of appeals out to assist Afghan minorities who are stuck in Kabul or sitting in tents as refugees in Pakistan Iran Turkey Greece and elsewhere.

In India, encouraged no doubt the new anti-conversion laws and pre-existing prejudices towards the lower-caste Dalits, a series of attacks on Christians and their churches are carried our by Hindu nationalists.

 In Pakistan, the longest-serving Christian victim of the draconian Blasphemy Laws – Zafar Bhatti – is given a death sentence. Meanwhile, Qamar Rafiq discusses the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan seen through the lens of ongoing rape abduction and forced conversions / marriages.

 From China, an Uyghur intellectual who was incarcerated and tortured by the Chinese Community Party describes the horror that goes on in their ‘killing fields’. A Christian book-seller is sentenced to 7 years in prison despite appeals and protests from NGOs and the West. The CCP now bans the sharing and promotion of religious literature on the internet. There then follows is a chilling report on how Human Rights are defined in China and which are widely divergent with the rest of the civilised world. Finally, Human Rights Lawyer Nina Shea shows how the CCP attempt to cover up Religious Genocide and Repression.

 From Kenya come reports of further Islamist killings of Christians – and a brave woman who stood up to them and called them out.

 From Nigeria come reports of more killings of Christians by Fulani Militants whilst Government forces look on and do absolutely nothing.

 In Iran a convert from Islam begins a 4 year prison sentence. Three Christian guys record a song on behalf of the persecuted minorities there.

 And in France a Catholic religious procession is subject to Islamist death threats and insults.

I think this shows the relevance of the Charity we are launching today- in conjunction with yesterday’s gathering in Westminster. George Bell would definitely have approved of this launch, although I suspect he would not want to have his name attached to it. He would have been thrilled by Ruth’s initiative in this project. He would make no distinction between Christians, Jews and others. For him, need not creed was the key factor. Freedom from want, fear, persecution and violence was paramount and Bell’s concern for the Jewish people was well known. He would agree wholeheartedly with the Barnabas Fund that in today’s world it is Christians who are so greatly in need of protection. Indeed, it is my conclusion that the Barnabas Fund is the only organisation capable of doing what is required at this time. It has the reach, it has the links, it has professional and experienced workers in the various countries.

I do urge us all to take a special interest in this new charity; we all have a part to play. Ruth has began this work with a substantial gift and we must build on it.

And, of course, in this diocese of all dioceses there will be especial sympathy to this project. George Bell may be physically dead but his values, his concerns and his love – together with that of Henrietta, his formidable wife- live on.

In Andrew’s wonderful biography of George Bell, there is a quotation from the Swedish Archbishop

Bishop Söderblom, Bishop of Uppsala, saying of George Bell as a young man that ‘nobody is more important to the future of the ecumenical revival that this silent Bell. This Bell never rings for nothing. But when it does ring, its tune is silver-clear’.

But this very morning, Richard Symonds dropped me an email with this simple line in it:

Let the silent Bell sing,

Let the silent Bell ring,

Throughout all lands

And to all peoples

With clarity

With charity

And with that Love

From Above.

This new Charity will give fresh power to the relevant message of Jesus Christ, through his servant, George Kennedy Allen Bell.

STATEMENT BY NOEL OSBORNE [unread at the Rebuilding Bridges-Bell Society conference – Feb 1

The restoration of Bishop George Bell’s place in history is the focus of this paper for the Rebuilding Bridges Conference. That bridges need to be rebuilt is a cause for deep regret, but before we can brief the builders, we must rehearse the causes of the  collapse.

In October 2015 the Church of England announced that George Bell had committed serious sexual abuse of a child ( to be known as ‘Carol’) 65 years previously, in 1950. Bell died in 1958, so was in no position to answer charges. At no point was there a presumption of innocence, which lies at the heart of English law. Indeed, the Core Group set up by Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester, went about its work assuming Bell’s guilt. 

In a statement of 22 October 2015, Warner claimed: ‘ . . .the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties. . . . The settlement (£16,000 and £15,000 legal costs to ‘Carol’) followed a thorough pre-litigation process . . .’

In Chichester, damaging and disastrous decisions were then made. Warner instructed that his great predecessor’s name should be removed from buildings and institutions in the diocese. He stated: ‘We face with shame the story of abuse of a child.’ On the same day, 22 October 2015, the Cathedral issued a Statement presuming and accepting Bell’s guilt, and the Dean, Stephen Waine, wrote to the Cathedral guides: ‘I would be grateful, therefore, if you could refrain from including George Bell in your guided tours and external presentations.’

As a result, George Bell House in The Close was designated 4 Canon Lane. Bell House in Bishop Luffa School (the Church of England secondary school, of which the Dean and Chapter were governors) was renamed after another past Bishop. The students were told by way of explanation, ‘ Bishop Bell was a paedophile’. A school in Crawley had to change its dedication. A monument in the Cathedral was covered and Bell’s name, connected to the Arundel screen and the café in the cloisters, disappeared. In their wisdom, the Cathedral revised their published Guide to include the accusation against Bell. He was cancelled.

By common consent, and in the words of Justin Welby, Bell was ‘one of the most courageous, distinguished Anglican bishops of the last century’. He is honoured for resisting Hitler, for his outstanding assistance for Jewish refugees from Nazism, and for those enduring persecution. In hard times he called for ‘courage and confidence, for thinking of others, and for faith in God.’

Following sustained pressure from Bell’s many supporters, the Archbishop of Canterbury set up a Review, to  be conducted by Lord (Alex) Carlile. His Report, published on 15 December 2017, made shocking and devastating reading. The investigation into Carol’s accusation was fatally flawed; the Core Group, set up by Bishop Warner, had assumed Bell’s guilt; the Church did not test evidence, nor seek witnesses; the processes were deficient and failed to respect the rights of both sides.
There was no shred of hard evidence nor any attempt to investigate facts.

Lord Carlile concluded that Bell’s reputation was ‘wrongfully and unnecessarily damaged’. In response to such a ‘calmly damning’ Report, the Archbishop refused to apologise, and stuck by a wrong and illogical claim that ‘a significant cloud’ remained over Bishop Bell.

That was back in 2017. It took four years, until 17 November 2021, for the Archbishop to retract. At last he made his big admission: ‘I was wrong. There is no significant cloud’, and he took personal responsibility for the injustice done to Bishop George Bell.

And from this  point the Rebuilding must start. The Archbishop’s apology does much to heal division in the Church of England. The restoration of George Bell’s reputation can and should start in Chichester and George Bell House must be top of the list. The house was gifted to the Dean and Chapter – Sister Jane and Mother Angela CSC made ‘a generous grant’ – who conceived it as a place dedicated to vocation, education, and reconciliation: three of George Bell’s passions. Archbishop Rowan Williams opened the service of Dedication on 5 October 2008 with the charge: ‘May the vision and tradition of Bishop George Bell be always honoured in this place.’

It is now two months since Welby’s words, but we have yet to hear a similar apology from either Bishop Warner or Dean Waine. Christopher Hoare, who has left a legacy to the Cathedral conditional on the full restitution of George Bell House, is right to ask (23 December 2021) ‘ Why are the Dean and Chapter dragging their feet over the restoration of as much as possible of Bishop Bell’s memory that can be salvaged, particularly George Bell House.’

This can and must be done now. There is much talk in Chichester (and Canterbury) of a statue to Bell;  and services, conferences, concerts can be planned as part of a continuing process of restoration and reconciliation. This will take time. It has been said that it will take a generation for Chichester to recover from other scandals that have beset it, in particular sex offences by such as Michael Walsh and Terence Banks, both of whom went to prison. It may take as long for students at Bishop Luffa School to understand that Bell was wrongly accused and that they are privileged to be in Bell House.

But what of Carol? It does not follow that, given Bell’s innocence, she was not abused. There is a ‘dark side’, which must be confronted before genuine healing and rebuilding can take place. Such confrontation can be painful. The likelihood is that the abuse happened, but by another person. Canon David Jasper alludes to this in his Reflection on Bishop George Bell (December 2021): ‘This unhappy episode of the accusations made against Bishop George Bell is over, with hurt on all sides, and those who still refuse to close the door on it will have to live with their own consciences.’ Who was the abuser? Why the silence? We will probably never know.

Let us pray, in the spirit of this Conference, that we can all move forward in reconciliation and renewal.

Noel Osborne 
11 January 2022

FEBRUARY 7 220 – THE GEORGE BELL MOTION [‘THE GBM’] – A RESOLUTION PROPOSED BY SANDRA SAER AND THE BELL SOCIETY TEAM

Sandra Saer

Chair of the Rebuilding Bridges-Bell Society conference – February 1 2022



PRESS RELEASE – FEBRUARY 3 2022

CHICHESTER 2022 – THE REBUILDING BRIDGES-BELL SOCIETY CONFERENCE

Vicars’ Hall, Chichester – 1st February 2022

Lively and useful discussions were a feature of the Conference. They included a motion, agreed by the attendees, requesting the Bishop and Dean of Chichester to clarify the position of the Cathedral, in relation to the multi-faceted restoration of Bishop George Bell’s reputation.

This clarification is earnestly and anxiously awaited, subsequent to the withdrawal by Archbishop Justine Welby of his original statement – about a ‘significant cloud’ remaining over Bishop Bell – with an apology for his mistake.

The uncertainty surrounding this vitally important aspect of Cathedral and Church of England history, is hugely damaging to the morale of many faithful Christians, not just those living locally.

You already should have received a copy of the detailed Agenda for yesterday’ Conference. In case not, attached is an updated copy.

We were especially pleased to see Jonathan, the Earl of Cork and Orrery and Lady Cork and other members of the Cathedral community who have close connections with its day-to-day running. These also included Jeremy Mudford, one of our key speakers, who, after his own, read a Statement from Christopher Hoare.

Bishop Nicholas Reade, former Bishop of Blackburn and Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings read the Opening Prayer, and his Statement was also read out.

Other Statements (there were nine) included another key one from the brother-in-law of Bishop Reade – David Jasper, FRSE, Professor Emeritus of Literature and Theology at the University of Glasgow.

An audio visual recording of the Conference proceedings was made, and the resultant, edited film will go on YouTube very shortly.

For more information, contact Sandra Saer: sandramhsaer@gmail.com tel. 01903 884968

THE BELL SOCIETY CONFERENCE

1st February 2022

9.30 am – 1 pm

AGENDA

Chair’s Welcome – Sandra Saer (SS)

Opening Prayer – Bishop Nicholas Reade

STATEMENTS

  1. Bishop Nicholas Reade,
  2. Jeremy Mudford, Guide for 22 years at Chichester Cathedral,

and Head Doorkeeper for 19 years, and

  1. Christopher Hoare – both read by JM
  2. Martin Sewell, General Synod – read by SS
  3. Revd Canon Professor David Jasper, Professor Emeritus of Literature and Theology at the University of Glasgow – read by SS

MESSAGES – read by SS, from:

  1. Richard Harries, Lord Harries of Pentregarth
  2. Frank Field, Lord Field of Birkenhead
  3. Daniel Hodson, Chairman, Chichester Cathedral Roof Appeal
  4. Charles Moore
  5. Revd Peter Mullen

30-minute break – 11-11.30 am

STATEMENTS

  1. Terry Martin, using screen to illustrate
  2. Revd Dr Alan Gadd – read by SS
  3. Geoffrey Boys
  4. Vasantha Gnanadoss – read by SS
  5. Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson (for Barnabas Fund) – read by SS

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

CHAIR’S FINAL REMARKS

FEBRUARY 4 2022 – BISHOP GEORGE BELL MEMORIAL FUND CONFERENCE – ASSEMBLY ROOMS – CHICHESTER

ADDRESS BY LORD CAREY – FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

GEORGE BELL CHARITY

FEB 4TH 2022

I am delighted to be here today for this meeting and launch of George Bell Memorial Fund for Refugees. I want to thank Dr. Ruth Hildebrandt – Grayson for her contribution and our friend Dr. Chandler, who has done more than most to keep the memory of Bishop Bell alive. 

There is a challenging verse in 1 Kings 18 where King Arab meets Elijah and says ‘ Ah, there you are – the troubler of Israel!’ That was a trifle rich because Ahab was one of the most corrupt leaders of Israel. But to evil people good people are always seen as troublemakers – disturbers of the peace. George Bell was a troublemaker and all people who want to make real changes in our world are often seen as troublemakers. I want to salute all troublemakers present, because we are following in the footsteps of George Bell – valiant fighter for truth and indomitable troublemaker. Andrew Chandler is a troublemaker because he has used his considerable scholarship to protest against the treatment of a great man. Patrick Sookdeo is undoubtedly a troublemaker because he more than most has been vocal in his concerns for Christians in Muslim lands. Richard Symonds has been a brave and persistent dragon fly in the ear of the hierarchy; so has Ruth and many of us here. Sometimes it has to be done. George Kennedy Allen Bell was a troublemaker. He showed it persistently throughout his career. He was not always liked, respected – even within his own church and the government did not always appreciate his interventions.

I note with some amusement that in 1938 Bell was instrumental in getting valuable information from Bonhoeffer through to the British government but his activities were not always appreciated. Anthony Eden would say later ‘ I see no reason to encourage this pestilent priest’. I am sure that Eden was deliberately echoing the words that led to Thomas Becket’s murder – although I am quite sure that that was not what Eden intended – of course not. Bell was never going to relent in his concern for those suffering in German. Those who disturb the placid waters of cowardice and complacency will always be regarded as troublemakers. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that great German theologian, had a special relationship with George Bell. And Bell for his part had a close relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his friend, Franz Hildebrandt referring to them both as ‘my boys’.  They were all troublemakers.

What would Bell be concerned about today if he lived to share our times?

Without question, this man who cared so deeply for Jewish refugees would be angry about the plight of refugees today.

Every year the annual World Watch List produced each year by  Open Doors which identifies, in rank order, the various countries where persecution is prominent. It confirms the increasing trend, year on year, and reveals that over 360 million Christians worldwide — that’s 1 in 7 – now live under persecution.

Their conservative estimate is that last year 5898 Christians were killed for their faith,  5110 Churches and other Christian buildings were attacked or torn down, 6175 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned…and 3829 were abducted.

This is followed by the Release International Report on the situation, globally. Both reports identify that Afghanistan has become the No1 hotspot and there are a number of appeals out to assist Afghan minorities who are stuck in Kabul or sitting in tents as refugees in Pakistan Iran Turkey Greece and elsewhere.

In India, encouraged no doubt the new anti-conversion laws and pre-existing prejudices towards the lower-caste Dalits, a series of attacks on Christians and their churches are carried our by Hindu nationalists.

 In Pakistan, the longest-serving Christian victim of the draconian Blasphemy Laws – Zafar Bhatti – is given a death sentence. Meanwhile, Qamar Rafiq discusses the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan seen through the lens of ongoing rape abduction and forced conversions / marriages.

 From China, an Uyghur intellectual who was incarcerated and tortured by the Chinese Community Party describes the horror that goes on in their ‘killing fields’. A Christian book-seller is sentenced to 7 years in prison despite appeals and protests from NGOs and the West. The CCP now bans the sharing and promotion of religious literature on the internet. There then follows is a chilling report on how Human Rights are defined in China and which are widely divergent with the rest of the civilised world. Finally, Human Rights Lawyer Nina Shea shows how the CCP attempt to cover up Religious Genocide and Repression.

 From Kenya come reports of further Islamist killings of Christians – and a brave woman who stood up to them and called them out.

 From Nigeria come reports of more killings of Christians by Fulani Militants whilst Government forces look on and do absolutely nothing.

 In Iran a convert from Islam begins a 4 year prison sentence. Three Christian guys record a song on behalf of the persecuted minorities there.

 And in France a Catholic religious procession is subject to Islamist death threats and insults.

I think this shows the relevance of the Charity we are launching today- in conjunction with yesterday’s gathering in Westminster. George Bell would definitely have approved of this launch, although I suspect he would not want to have his name attached to it. He would have been thrilled by Ruth’s initiative in this project. He would make no distinction between Christians, Jews and others. For him, need not creed was the key factor. Freedom from want, fear, persecution and violence was paramount and Bell’s concern for the Jewish people was well known. He would agree wholeheartedly with the Barnabas Fund that in today’s world it is Christians who are so greatly in need of protection. Indeed, it is my conclusion that the Barnabas Fund is the only organisation capable of doing what is required at this time. It has the reach, it has the links, it has professional and experienced workers in the various countries.

I do urge us all to take a special interest in this new charity; we all have a part to play. Ruth has began this work with a substantial gift and we must build on it.

And, of course, in this diocese of all dioceses there will be especial sympathy to this project. George Bell may be physically dead but his values, his concerns and his love – together with that of Henrietta, his formidable wife- live on.

In Andrew’s wonderful biography of George Bell, there is a quotation from the Swedish Archbishop

Bishop Söderblom, Bishop of Uppsala, saying of George Bell as a young man that ‘nobody is more important to the future of the ecumenical revival that this silent Bell. This Bell never rings for nothing. But when it does ring, its tune is silver-clear’.

But this very morning, Richard Symons dropped me an email with this simple line in it:

Let the silent Bell sing,

Let the silent Bell ring,

Throughout all lands

And to all peoples

With clarity

With charity

And with that love

From above.

This new Charity will give fresh power to the relevant message of Jesus Christ, through his servant, George Kennedy Allen Bell.

End.

FEBRUARY 6 2022 – RESTORING 4 CANON LANE BACK TO GEORGE BELL HOUSE IN CHICHESTER – PART 1

This Notice has appeared in a window at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester [aka George Bell House] – Saturday February 6 2022

George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane

Chichester Cathedral

St Richard’s Walk

FEBRUARY 3 2022 – BISHOP GEORGE BELL ANNUAL PUBLIC LECTURE – DELIVERED BY LORD CARLILE CBE QC – ST MATTHEW’S, WESTMINSTER. “BISHOP GEORGE BELL IS INNOCENT…OFFICIAL” – PETER HITCHENS

George Bell Memorial Fund
Lord Carlisle and Lord Carey
On Thursday, Lord Carey together with the Barnabas fund launched the first annual public lecture in memory of Bishop George Bell. The inaugural lecture also served as the official launch of the Bishop George Bell Memorial Fund at the Barnabas Fund. The annual public lecture and Memorial fund seeks to raise awareness and support of causes that were close to Bishop Bell’s Heart. 

The inaugural lecture was given by Lord Carlile of Berriew and was devoted to humanitarianism, the crisis of refugees and religious freedom.  

The lecture can be viewed here.

BISHOP GEORGE BELL ANNUAL PUBLIC LECTURE

Home / Bishop George Bell Annual Public Lecture

Barnabas Fund, together with its patron Lord Carey, are delighted to announce their first annual public lecture in memory of Bishop George Bell. This inaugural lecture will also be the official launch of the Bishop George Bell Memorial Fund at Barnabas Fund. The annual public lecture and Memorial Fund will raise awareness and support those causes close to Bishop Bell’s heart.

The first Bishop George Bell Annual Public Lecture will be held on Thursday, February 3, 2022. The inaugural lecture will be given by Lord Carlile of Berriew. The lecture will be devoted to humanitarianism, the crisis of refugees and religious freedom.

Date and time: 3 February, 2022 (Thursday), 15:00 – 17:00

Watch the event here:

PETER HITCHENS

https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2022/02/bishop-george-bell-is-innocent-ok-official-.html

04 February 2022 2:54 PM

Bishop George Bell is Innocent OK – official 

Statement by Lord Carlile of Berriew, CBE, QC , given after the George Bell Lecture in St Matthew’s Church, Westminster on Thursday 3rd February 2022:

‘Bishop Bell would certainly have been found not guilty by a jury in this case. George Bell is not guilty and that has now been recognised in the apology given by the Archbishop of Canterbury.’

Bishop Bell, who died in 1958 (and is absolutely not to be confused with the convicted sex offender Peter Ball) was accused of sexual abuse by an anonymous person more than half a century after the alleged events had taken place. An inquiry by Lord Carlile, in a report commissioned by the Church of England, condemned the one-sided and sloppy process after which the C of E publicly declared him guilty. But Lord Carlile, a distinguished trial lawyer, has not previously proclaimed an explicit ‘not guilty’ verdict.   

February 4, 2022 Comments (3) 

This sign has appeared in a window at 4 Canon Lane, Chichester [aka George Bell House] – Saturday February 6 2022