Campaigning Report

Campaigning 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)

The campaigning group is delighted to be able to report back on what has been Bell Road’s third year of campaigning. What began as a one-year project to encourage the church community to raise its voice alongside the oppressed and the vulnerable has now become a part of the fabric of our church’s life and we are delighted that engagement with social issues (as well as social action) has become a part of our shared discipleship.

Last year’s AGM received a report on Bell Road’s first supper evening – a chance to share together in a delicious meal and listen to a speaker from a particular cause or charity share their expertise. Since then, there have been two further supper evenings in April and May 2016 with brilliant speakers from All We Can (www.allwecan.org.uk, formerly the Methodist Relief and Development Fund) and Restored (www.restoredrelationships.org), an international Christian alliance seeking to end violence against women. Both occasions have provided opportunities to share in food and fellowship, to raise money for good causes and, most importantly, to equip ourselves with the knowledge and resources to campaign effectively about key issues. Keep an eye out for the dates of future supper evenings in the newsletter – we hope to see you there!

The campaigning group feels strongly that this work is not a separate activity from the worshipping life of the church – instead, campaigning is one of the ways we as a church live out our prayer that God’s kingdom will come, and God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. As part of this, we were excited by the opportunity in March to lead a Sunday morning service on the theme of #enough (www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/enough/), the Joint Public Issues Team’s campaign to ensure that all God’s people have enough. We learned that 1 in 5 parents skip meals to ensure their children have enough to eat and that the number of children living in poverty is expected to rise to 3.9 million by the end of the decade. We reflected on God’s generosity and abundant love. There were passionate conversations after the service as people felt challenged by society’s attitude to the poorest and most vulnerable – those God calls us to protect.

In the run-up to the elections on 5 May, we were reminded of the Joint Public Issues Team’s #thinkprayvote resources designed to help us think through how we use our vote as Christians. As the debate around the EU Referendum fills the airwaves, further resources can be found here: www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/issues/eu-referendum/

‘Thinking differently’

We’ve been delighted to hear stories from those in the church community who are speaking, acting and thinking differently as a result of their engagement with campaigning over the past three years. Together, we believe these small changes will make a big difference in our world, and so we wanted to share some of their stories with you:

“I have a Christian friend who I’ve watched for years and has never voted. I’ve never known what to say to this friend about this, as I didn’t want to come across as being judgmental and opinionated. But through a talk… I now know what to say. As a Christian you should be using your vote, it’s God’s world we must be committed and interested in influencing it as much as we can in line with God’s word. Also, there was a session that talked about #enough, we were invited to sign a petition, amongst other activities. During the session, it was said something along the lines of “we must make our voices heard”, since then I’ve really thought about how important it is to get involved, and now I think and act so differently when it comes to causes. Simple and plain, but life-long quality changes” (Kam).

“[Following the ‘Justice for Bangladeshi garment workers’ campaign] we have stopped buying from shops like Primark and any other shops whose prices are ridiculously low. We do talk to various contacts about injustice and unfair labour practices both within the UK and abroad. Our latest supper talk [with Restored] left us more empowered to talk freely about violence & abuse against disadvantaged individuals and other social groups” (Moses).

“I have also stopped shopping in Primark since we talked about the fire and how the workers were being treated. I am trying to do more Fairtrade shopping. I have encouraged my family to make sure they use their vote as it is important that we are voting for the right people to run our country” (Dinnie).

The campaigning group is thrilled that speaking out has become a part of the fabric of our church life alongside social action. 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! Our next meeting is on Tuesday 28 June and all are welcome. Alternatively, 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 the website: www.hounslowmethodist.org.uk/mission/campaigning

Naomi Oates

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