Faith and politics together - Methodists at the party conferences

The Methodist Church is joining other Free Churches to hold aseries of meetings at the forthcoming party conferences.Representatives from the Free Churches will hold breakfast meetingsat 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 andSociety of Friends - will be inviting politicians, churchrepresentatives and members of the public to discuss issues at theforefront of British politics.

At each meeting there will be a theme for discussion, reflectingthe concerns of the churches and wider society. At the Labourconference the delegation will invite members to discuss 'a newdeal on asylum', at the Conservative conference they will tacklethe issue of inclusive communities, and at the Liberal Democratconference the discussion will focus on whether our use ofresources liberates or enslaves others.

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

Each meeting lasts from 7 am-9.30 am and the first will take placeat the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton on 19 September. TheLabour Conference breakfast meeting will be in Manchester on the 26September and the Conservative meeting will be in Bournemouth on 3October. The President of the Methodist Conference the Revd GrahamCarter and Parliamentary and Political Affairs Secretary AlisonJackson will also attend each event.