Is the General Election on your church agenda? Are you wondering what role your church could be playing in the run up to May 2015 elections?
Your new Synod Mission Committee are looking to support churches who wish to explore this further by informing you of resources that are being produced to help churches prepare for the issues of the General Election in May.•
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland are offering the resource ‘The Good Society’ with the intention of provoking discussions in advance of the elections. The Good Society challenges congregations, churches together groups, regional faith bodies and others to ask questions such as,
- What do WE as people of faith think is a ‘good society’ looks like?
- What are the values of a good society?
- How can we achieve a good society here in the North East?
- How as churches and faith groups can we make sure our ideas, concerns and voices heard?
An event was held in November at St James URC Newcastle for all the North East Churches to enable part of this discussion. Several ideas on how to continue this work were suggested including:
- Encourage discussions about ‘what is a good society’ in our local church groupings and encourage the churches to have a voice in the local community and neighbourhoods in the lead up to the elections in May
- Find out if any other faith groups in your area are holding similar conversations and see if they want to join you.
- Prepare Lent materials to help structure the discussions and make use of an opportunity when may church groups come together anyway
- Look at proposed political party policies and see if they reflect the values we hope to see in a good society
- Arrange an opportunity to hold a dialogue with your local candidates having prepared pertinent questions
- Organise a hustings for the local area, or attend one already in place.
- Be optimistic about the power of local people to change things, as a collective voice we can influence policy makers and as a church we need to be a prophetic voice.
- Decide on one area of injustice that is important to your local community and challenge it as a faith community (e.g. zero hours contracts)
- Meet with your MP after the election to continue to hold dialogue expressing concerns and hopes and creating local relationships that can make a difference.
This is a real opportunity for the church to be visible and active in issues that are concerning and impacting on all people, on and off the pews.
Are you a church that wants to be seen to practise what you preach by tackling injustice, by standing up for the marginalised, by being a voice and witness of a God of love, hoping that people can see the Church as relevant to today’s society?
In addition the Joint Public Issues Team are going to be producing resources linked to their ‘Love your Neighbour – Think, Pray, Vote’ Conference in February 2015: see www.jointpublicissues.org.uk. Our Synod Clerk, Melanie Campbell, and convenor of the Mission Committee, Revd Meg Robb, will be attending this conference.