Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Conservative Party Conference

Attending the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences has been a fascinating and very informative experience. Our visits were co-ordinated by the Joint Public Issues Team who provide an excellent model of team work and collaboration represented by the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union.

All Methodists are encouraged to participate and engage in political life and with our democratic processes. Christians are called to use their positions in society to take action to support freedom, justice and peace and respond when they are absent from our community life. Where a social movement or political proposal is clearly contrary to the will of God as revealed in scripture and the traditions of the church, then the Methodist Church will speak out against it. An example of this is our work on 'Countering Political Extremism.'

Our first event at the Conference was to attend a private reception for Church leaders and other guests from a variety of International Aid Agencies prior to the conference service.

I engaged in good conversation with Val Morrison Co-Moderator of the United Reformed Church, Loretta Minghella-Director of Christian Aid and Lieutenant Colonel Marion Drew, Secretary for Communication.

Meeting Rev Canon Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak of the Episcopal Church of Sudan was a humbling experience as he outlined the challenges that remain in Sudan and asked for our commitment as Church leaders to pray for his beloved country that peace would be sustained and war would not return again.

The Conservative Party Conference Service was held in the Town Hall hosted by - Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Major Samuel Edgar - Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army. and included Stephen O'Brien -Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for International Development.)
Video clips from the conference service.

It was a delight to meet up with Deacon Kerry Smith whose job includes being a chaplain to the ICC Conference Centre. Kerry was on duty providing support around the conference to the delegates and the staff of the centre. Sadly we did not have time to eat cake or chocolate together (our normal activity) as we both had to rush off to other events but it was a good reminder of the many ways in which we offer support as a Methodist church through Work Place Chaplaincy Teams.

I attended one of the many fringe events at the conference. This event was hosted by Save the Children and addressed by Iain Duncan Smith MP outlining his plan for reforming the welfare system.

David Burrows MP addressing the Prayer Breakfast.

A prayer breakfast was held every morning of the party Conference hosted by the Conservative Christian Fellowship. At the Tuesday breakfast (where there was an abundant supply of bacon and sausage sandwiches) as a delegation of Free church leaders we joined 50 guests in praying for MP's and Councillors.

Amongst the guests was Rev'd Bill Anderson Chair of Birmingham District.

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