The Bible & the EU ReferendumSmall group Bible studyGuide to holding a Referendum HustingsPrayer for Churches

Guide to holding a Referendum Hustings

The 2015 General Election saw more hustings organised by churches than ever before. Hustings – which are public meetings held before an election or referendum where questions are put to a panel - are a great opportunity for the Church to host debates that help inform peoples decisions in the voting booth. The Church is able to offer an important neutral space to discuss these issues that impact the lives of individuals, serving the community and engaging with local political life.

While referendums are very rare, the principles of organising a hustings remain the same as for any other national, local or European election. Here are some tips:


These events work best when done ecumenically, try and get as many churches involved as possible.

The Panel

For a referendum hustings it is important to have both sides of the debate represented. While a hustings prior to an election provides an obvious shortlist of local candidates to be invited on the panel, a referendum is less clear.

Start by contacting your local party branches. The likelihood is that they will have members knowledgeable about the debate who will want to make their case for either staying or leaving the EU.

The Chair

The best chair is firm, impartial and a respected person capable of chairing the meeting.


Make sure you have a venue big enough and that it is accessible for those with disabilities. Do you need stewards to welcome people and provide refreshments?


Advertise it the event as widely as possible. Use posters in community spaces, church websites and social media if possible. Send a press release to the local newspaper and radio station.

On the day

Decide a structure for the debate ahead of time, and be aware of timings. Remember you may have a number of panellists, so even two minutes speeches can add up.


Decide how you are going to handle questions from the public. Do you want to take them in writing before the meeting starts, or just from the floor during the meeting? Also will you take three questions at a time or allow the panel to answer each question individually?

It’s always useful to have some people primed with pre-prepared questions incase people are slow to engage.

If you are organising a hustings and have any questions do get in touch.  We’d also love to hear about how you get on. Contact us at