As with previous visits to the TUC and party conferences, I was visiting alongside colleagues from other denominations, this time Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, Revd Graham Sparkes of the Baptist Union, Tim Stone of the Salvation Army and David Bradwell and Rachel Lampard from our Joint Public Issues Team. I was also here in my BMA capacity, and it was good that the programme of meetings and fringe events allowed me to fulfil both roles without any difficulty.
We shared in an inspirational Conference service on Tuesday evening in the splendid
On Wednesday we met prospective parliamentary candidates and MPs who all echoed the importance of Christians both engaging in political decision making and being willing to respond to the opportunities faith groups may have with a new administration.
Shaun Bailey hopes to be a London MP after the next election. He became a Christian 5 years ago and is enthusiastic about the powerful role churches could have both during the election and afterwards. He particularly emphasised the importance of supporting and encouraging marriage and questioned why churches charged any couple other than the minimum cost that wanted to marry in their building rather than seeing this as a mission opportunity.
Caroline Spelman is the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. We talked about the emphasis the
David Lidington has a shadow foreign office brief and we travelled the globe with him, discussing
The Conservative Christian Fellowship has grown in the last 10 years and now has increased influence within the Party. Elizabeth Berridge,
David Burrowes, shadow Minister for Justice, founded
Visiting the TUC and party conferences has been interesting and enjoyable. It's also been very worthwhile, demonstrating both the Churches support for Christians in politics and the relevance of involving the Church in political debate and policy development.