Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Labour Party Conference-Manchester

At the Labour Party Conference I joined the
Free church delegation of representatives-

Rev Graham Sparkes- Baptist, Head of Faith and Unity
Michael Bartlett- Quaker, Parliamentary Liason
Lieut-Colonel Marion Drew-SalvationArmy,Sec for Communication
Revd Kirsty Thorpe - URC, Co-Moderator
Gareth Wallace - Salvation Army, Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Dr Helen Cameron - Salvation Army, Public Affairs Officer
Revd Rosemary Kidd, JPIT Faith and Unity Co-ordinator

The Methodist Church and the Religious Society of Friends have historically had individual presences at the three main party conferences. In 2003 the Methodist, Quakers and Baptists organised a joint delegation and were joined a year later by the Salvation Army.
Each denomination commits that where possible a leader from within the denomination will attend each of the conferences. Since 2007 the Joint Public Issues Team (a great model of collaboration of Baptists, Methodists and URC) has enabled staff to attend the three conferences.

Familiar faces around conference.

The aim of the delegation is to enable church leaders to meet Christians and other politicians within the three main parties, to offer solidarity, build relationships, provide a visible witness of support for the ministry of those involved in politics emphasising the importance of Christian engagement and share concerns.

Our round table meeting with Stephen Timms MP who described his proposal to initiate a discussion on how the Labour Party could engage with faith groups.

As free church leaders we attended a breakfast meeting organised by the Christian Socialist Movement and Housing Justice in the Quaker Meeting House.

The theme of the Prayer Breakfast was the crisis of affordable housing being unavailable to many groups of people and reflecting on the significant debt created by mortgages and the challenges of social housing.

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