08 September 2006

Faith and politics together - Methodists at the party conferences

The Methodist Church is joining other Free Churches to hold a series of meetings at the forthcoming party conferences. Representatives from the Free Churches will hold breakfast meetings at the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour Party Conferences. The delegation - made up of church leaders from the Baptist Union, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, Salvation Army and Society of Friends - will be inviting politicians, church representatives and members of the public to discuss issues at the forefront of British politics.

At each meeting there will be a theme for discussion, reflecting the concerns of the churches and wider society. At the Labour conference the delegation will invite members to discuss 'a new deal on asylum', at the Conservative conference they will tackle the issue of inclusive communities, and at the Liberal Democrat conference the discussion will focus on whether our use of resources liberates or enslaves others.

There will be a variety of speakers at each event both from the political parties and the Churches, including Liam Byrne MP, Minister for Immigration, the Revd David Coffey, Moderator of the Free Churches Group, and the Methodist Vice President, Dudley Coates. Dudley said; 'Everyone is welcome to attend these events - we want to encourage people to get involved in politics and be prepared to ask the hard questions that affect us all. We have the power to make a difference, but so many of us don't use it. But it's not just about lobbying or making a point, we need to be prepared to listen and learn as well. We want to challenge politicians, but also support their commitment to working for change'

Each meeting lasts from 7 am-9.30 am and the first will take place at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton on 19 September. The Labour Conference breakfast meeting will be in Manchester on the 26 September and the Conservative meeting will be in Bournemouth on 3 October. The President of the Methodist Conference the Revd Graham Carter and Parliamentary and Political Affairs Secretary Alison Jackson will also attend each event.

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