Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ventures new

I’m beginning to realise how much I have never done before. So I have now visited two political party conferences in the space of 9 days, never having been to one previously. It was interesting to compare the Lib-Dem and the Labour party conferences. It was back to Birmingham to attend the Lib-Dem, in the company of other Free Church leaders and under the guidance of Frank Kantor from our amazing Joint Public Issues Team. I sat in on Vince Cable’s speech (‘no sunny uplands’) attended a Q and A forum at lunchtime and was pleased to head Paddy Ashdown as one of the panel, then attended a debate . I was fascinated by their management of the debate – if you wish to speak you have to hand a card in prior to the debate with your name and a précis of the point you wish to make, and then wait to see if you are selected to speak. A few people are allowed to make a minute’s ‘intervention’ which does give some sense of spontaneity, but I thought it lacked some sense of excitement. By contrast, at the Labour Conference, when the presenters have spoken people leap to their feet waving items that distinguish them from others and so we had ‘the man with the green tie’ followed by ‘the woman with the red scarf’ and ’the man with the stripey shirt on the second row’ come to the podium! Great fun! But for both parties there was the sense that they are still trying to come to terms with the move to the other end of the divide between opposition and government.

A day at each conference was spent in a series of conversations with individual politicians, asking them to clarify matters of policy; informing them of our particular concerns for society in our churches; asking them how we can best make our concerns known and assuring them of our prayers for the difficult decisions they have to make.

Both Conferences also gave us the welcome opportunity to share in prayer with the Christian movement in each party, at breakfast and lunchtime meetings which were also open to local Christians. And six in the morning is a good time to get up.

My weekend trips have now started. A Sunday in Leicester, with Oadby in the morning as part of their 80 year anniversary celebrations. Another shared breakfast, this time with their brand new ‘Family Breakfast’ which was an early morning Messy Church. As I was a bit more dressed up than I would normally be for messy church, I stood well back when a budding Jackson Pollock got going. Fortunately the stewards’ dress was washable! The service that followed was a wonderful act of worship in which a number of people were received into membership and about 180 of us shared communion. This ‘feast’ was followed by the best Sunday dinner I have had for many years, and I have to say has set a high benchmark for any other Sunday hosts.

On then to Syston for a very different act of worship which I co-led with a friend of many years, Jo Kay, who is a member there. David joined me and we had a great time.

1 comment:

rsctt603 said...

sounds very interesting and fun!.. My great grand Uncle was Maldywn Owen.