JPIT Conference 2018
On a cold, snowy Saturday in March, over 250 people from Methodist, Baptist, Church of Scotland and URC churches up and down the country braved the weather and gathered in Manchester for the Conference of the Joint Public Issues Team.
The event aimed to inform, equip and inspire Christians to tackle social injustice locally, nationally and internationally – an aim which was certainly fulfilled! In the grand surroundings of Central Hall, attendees were welcomed with worship and prayer before an excellent keynote session; Stella Creasy (Labour MP for Walthamstow) and Peter Oborne (political journalist) engaged in a feisty discussion on a range of topics including political discourse, climate change and hope for the future, thoroughly engaging all in attendance.
Those present then had the opportunity to take part in a number of workshops, with topics ranging from worship and justice, overcoming violence, generational divides, responses to Universal Credit changes, and many more. All excellently run by members of JPIT and external experts on the issues.
The day was brought to a close with an excellent, thought-provoking plenary reflection from Rev. Sally Foster Fulton, reminding us all of the subversive nature of Jesus; a subversion which radically compels us to seek justice for the oppressed, a subversion we all too often fail to fully grasp, recognise, or enact.
Other highlights of the day included the many stalls dotted around of various Christian charities and organisations involved in different elements of social action, the free gift of a “Poverty and Justice Bible” (in which all the verses relating to justice are highlighted) to all who wanted one, and the beautiful poem written by Lucy Berry over the course of the day, which aptly captured the spirit of the conference.
This was an exceptionally run event, organised by an exceptional organisation, of which the Methodist Church should be proud to be a part. In such a short time, the event holistically covered both the theological and the practical, the corporate and the individual, governmental policies as well as church action, leaving all who attended better informed, more equipped, and newly fired up to make our world look more like God’s Kingdom.
It was a profound and encouraging experience to be in a room with so many sisters and brothers in Christ, all seeking to be more Christ-like through our pursuit of justice. A day in which anger and hope both righteously abounded; a necessary tension freshly grasped by individuals and churches, a prophetic message needed now more than ever.