Talking and praying at the Conservative Party Conference

News Banner Conservative Party ConferenceWhile the media coverage focused on coughing fits, pranksters and collapsing lettering at the Conservative Party Conference, Alan Yates, Moderator of the United Reformed Church’s General Assembly concentrated on offering politicians pastoral support.

Mr Yates, along with Church leaders from the Baptist, and Methodist churches attended the conference in Manchester from 2 to 3 October.

Together with colleagues from the Salvation Army and Quakers they met with MPs including Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Crabb and other politicians who live out their vocation in public.

Mr Yates said: ‘We spent time listening, talking and praying with them.  At times, the Conservative MPs are portrayed as hard-hearted.  The MPs we met all had a true concern for all and they wanted a fairer society, but all felt hampered by a lack of money.  Last year I was astounded by the stories of social media abuse the female MPs had to contend with.  This year the men also complained of such abuse.  We need to pray that this abuse stops and proper conversations start.’

The faith leaders also took the opportunity to raise important political concerns – such as the implementation of Universal Credit or the need to defend international aid – with representatives of the party of government.

Brexit dominated most conversations, with the politicians’ reflections being coloured largely by their feelings about leaving or remaining.  Many of them made it clear that they felt the congested parliamentary timetable and all-consuming nature of the Brexit task was going to make it harder for civil society, including churches, to engage with government over other issues that we believe to be important.

Loraine Mellor, President of the Methodist Conference, said: ‘As disciples we need to build relationship and partnerships with those in our communities who may come from a different position and starting point, yet we can make a real difference by working together. I believe it’s imperative that we as faith groups, local and national politicians, local community groups, health workers, education and social services, all need to work together to see real change.  As churches we need to ensure that we continue to make our voices heard about the issues that are important to us’.

Photo: Rachel Lampard