Campaigning Group Report

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

At last year’s General Church Meeting, Andrew reported on Bell Road’s ‘Year of Campaigning’

– including work on the campaign for justice for Bangladeshi garment workers, the ‘Flesh and Blood’ campaign (encouraging church members to see blood and organ donation as part of their Christian giving) and the promotion of Fairtrade goods. As our initial ‘Year of Campaigning’ drew to a close, the church decided that it wished to continue raising its voice in support of the oppressed and the vulnerable and that we would continue campaigning after the year was done.

Following on from this decision, the morning service at Bell Road on 14 September (entitled ‘Love Indeed’) was intended to help us to think about the issues in our world that make us passionate – and what we, as Christians, could do over the coming year, not just to provide temporary relief to those in need, but permanently to change the structures that caused them to need our help in the first place. We focused on foodbanks, the truth and lies told about poverty, and homelessness, through the lens of our calling to “love, not in word or talk, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

Many people were shocked, for instance, to discover that the bank bailout required after the financial crisis in 2007 could have paid the cost of benefit fraud for a millennium. Resources from this service are still available online, along with many excellent resources from the Joint Public Issues Team.

fipOn Friday 5 December, representatives from the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservative Parties (including Brentford and Isleworth’s new MP, Ruth Cadbury) joined us for an evening entitled Faith in Politics? Around 50 people of all faiths and none from the community joined us to share a meal and then to discuss with the panel the issues close to our hearts. The questions covered topics as diverse as immigration, poverty and welfare, and whether we can have faith in our politicians. In the run-up to the unexpected results of the General Election on 7 May, this event was an early and vital opportunity for us to call on our local politicians to do justice and to love kindness. Churches in our circuit were encouraged to ‘Love your Neighbour: Think, Pray, Vote’ using resources also from the Joint Public Issues Team.

Friday 8 May saw the first of a series of supper evenings, where speakers representing a range of charities and causes will be sharing their expertise over a tasty supper. A number of us gathered to hear a speaker from Tearfund share information about the charity’s history and work to provide emergency relief in Nepal and to address the plight of children trafficked into the sex trade. There were opportunities to pray together, to ask questions – and to consume large quantities of  meatballs and sticky toffee pudding! We hope to raise awareness though these supper evenings on a wide range of topics, from domestic violence to leprosy to homelessness, to inspire us to go out and get campaigning. The next supper evening will be held on Friday 3 July – make sure it’s in your diary!

The campaigning group is thrilled that after the initial ‘Year of Campaigning’ the church decided that it wished to continue speaking out on the issues that matter to the poor and vulnerable in our world today. The campaigning group is always looking for new members who wish to explore new ways for the church to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God – if you’re interested, do let us know! If not, there are always plenty of other ways to get involved (such as buying Fairtrade, writing to your MP or joining us for a supper evening) – keep an eye out for new suggestions on our campaigning pages.