Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining 23 other young people courtesy of the JPIT (Joint Public issues team- Rachel Alison, Rachel Lampard, Matt Collins, Paul Morrison, Roseanna Levermore and many others behind the scenes) for a day out in Parliament. This was a free event for 16-24 year olds who considered themselves to be a member of a Methodist, United Reformed or Baptist Church and we had young people travelling into London yesterday from all different parts of the country (the furthest travelling from Newcastle to my knowledge!)
The day started with a tour around the Houses of Parliament with the first group meeting at 8:30 and the second group at 9:45 (luckily I was part of the second group!). After the tour we then had a question and answer session with six MPs: Meg Munn, Sarah Newton, Gavin Shucker, Sir Andrew Stunell, The Rev. The Baroness Richardson of Calow and The Rt Rev Graham James. The panel consisted of very influential individuals, who all possessed a Christian faith. During the discussion the panel were asked questions about the rise of foodbanks, bedroom tax, the rise of UKIP, immigration (to which one highlighted that “where you see diversity you see more inclusivity” – one of my favourite answers of the day!) and were also questioned about their faith. When asked whether they possessed a balanced between their faith and political decision? One replied saying that she considered it her calling to serve her community, another saying that they ‘do it in grace and you do it in community’ and another highlighted that there are more people in Parliament with a faith background then not. Speaking of whether their faith had changed since joining Parliament some highlight that whilst they may have a different view of the Church, their faiths have not changed but it did require them to think about issues that they had not previously thought of before. It was a really insightful discussion with a lot of well thought of questions from the young people that attended.
We then did a short walk from portcullis house to Methodist Central hall where we had lunch and a short feedback and discussion on what was heard from the panel in small groups. Following on from this we had three speakers giving a 5 minute insight into key topics of interest of the young adults that attended the event: Poverty and Welfare, Church and State and Interfaith/Multifaith relationships. This then led to a fruitful discussion in smaller groups on a topic that the group was interested in.
Yesterday was a fantastic day and I had so many engaging and inspiring discussions with the young people that attended. To see so many turn up with a passion and knowledge of Politics has provided me with the enthusiasm to learn more about politics for myself. To those who don’t think that Faith and Politics shouldn’t mix until yesterday I would have probably agreed with you but it is like what one of the MPs mentioned earlier on in the day, working in Parliament is serving your community. It is up to the individual as to how they perceive this. What I think that the Church should look more into is the Theology of power on a discipleship level. Within Churches we should be engaging with politics as it affects the world around us. Although we as Christians should be ‘in the world’ but ‘not of the world’, we should at least be aware of what is happening within the world. Faith and Politics sounds like the perfect (but challenging) combination to me.
Until next time...