‘Fruitful and inspiring time’ at Labour Party Conference

Free churches delegation and friends at labour conferenceFrancis Brienen, the United Reformed Church’s Deputy General Secretary (Mission), attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week as part of a delegation of Free Church leaders. She was delighted with the response from many of the politicians she met during the event: ‘It was a fruitful and inspiring time. We met with a number of MPs and were impressed with the many concerns they share with the churches, how much they appreciate the role of the churches in their constituencies and how committed they are to public service.’ 

Jill Baker, Vice President of the Methodist Conference, was also part of the Free Churches’ Group and has written a post on the Methodist Vice Presidential blog. She said: ‘Harold Wilson is supposed to have said once that “a week is a long time in politics”; I am quite sure he was correct, as, having returned late after a visit to the Labour Party Conference in Brighton I can't believe I was only there for 28 hours. I had never been to Brighton before and found it very different from Glasgow (!) –

symptomatic, perhaps, of my feeling of entering a brave new world. As I arrived before the time appointed for the Free Church Leaders' Group to convene, I sat on the sea wall for a few minutes and pondered the vast grey ocean and a little brightness in the sky above – was this how the Labour Party were feeling at this point in time?

‘All along the seafront there was a sense of something big happening; lots of delegates and others wearing the lanyards which say to the world “I am someone”… so I put mine on too and entered the conference venue. If I had been hoping to bump into Jeremy Corbyn, or someone else famous, and have a little chat I soon realised that this conference was on a different scale from Methodist Conference and that was highly unlikely!’ Read the full blog post here.

The Free Churches’ delegation comprised Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Joint Public Issues Team; Helen Cameron, Head of Public Affairs at The Salvation Army; Jill Baker, Vice President of the Methodist Conference; Jane Dawson, Advocacy and Public Relationships, Quakers in Britain; Francis Brienen, Deputy General Secretary (Mission), United Reformed Church; Revd Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union. Also pictured are Andy Flannagan (Christians on the Left) and Simon Beresford (All We Can).