Christians encouraged to sow the seeds of a new politics at this election


Delivering a keynote address to nearly 400 people at theLoveyour neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote conference, Justin Welby,Archbishop of Canterbury, has urged Christians to resist politicalnarratives that appeal to self interest and vote for the commongood. In his thoughtful speech, Archbishop Justin said: "It'simpossible to love Jesus Christ and not to care about the welfareof people in every respect."

The Archbishop went on to appeal for us to be positive andavoid 'miserablism', arguing that it is imperative for all toexercise their vote - for political activity is the only way toachieve the type of society that we say we want, saying: "If wedon't vote we share responsibility for the apathy and cynicism inour politics."

The Conference has been organised by the Joint PublicIssues Team, which combines the expertise of the Baptist Union, theMethodist Church and the United Reformed Church in the area ofpublic issues.

Mr John Ellis, Moderator of the General Assembly of theUnited Reformed Church commented: "Archbishop Justin showed how weshould view politics through a lens of the Gospel: If we did thatwe would never succumb to apathy or the temptation to demoniseindividuals or political parties - instead we would honour thepositive and support all those seeking the common good. So, asChristians we stay hopeful, with a stronger motivation to use thepolitical process to fight injustices." 

The busy programme included a lively Q&A sessionimmediately after the Archbishop's speech, reflective worship and aclosing keynote speech from the Revd Ruth Gee, former President ofthe Methodist Conference, which built on the core messages of theday: Think, pray, vote - and act. Delegates also had theopportunity to attend workshops on poverty, communications,building a relationship with your MP, grounding politics in faith,immigration, climate change, preaching and praying social justiceand peacemaking.   

Rachel Lampard, Joint Public Issues Team Leader, said:"It's been a wonderfully thought provoking and challenging day. Ihope that people will go home excited, enthused and strengthened intheir commitment to think, pray and vote. To tell Christians thatthey should not be involved in the political life of this nation isto tell them to stop being followers of Jesus Christ who has toldus to love God and to love our neighbours."

The Conference also saw the launch of the Love YourNeighbour: Think, Pray, Vote Election pack, produced by the JointPublic Issues Team together with the Church of Scotland. The packexplores four themes for the election - Truth, Justice, Peace andWellbeing - through short films, postcards, prayers and BibleStudies and is designed for use in churches and small groups in thefour weeks immediately before the General Election inMay.

Commending the resources, the Revd Phil Jump, RegionalMinister of the North Western Baptist Association and member of theJoint Public Issues Team, said: "Our hope and vision is that everymember of our churches will enter the polling booth on ElectionDay, conscious that above everything else, they are called to befollowers of Jesus."

The resource pack is available from Methodist Publishinghere.

Podcasts of the keynote speeches, together with other newsfrom the Love your neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote conference will beavailable here.