Notes From a Party Conference

The party conference season is over and while there was no shortage of headlines in the news, you may not have heard about what the Christian organistions - Christians on the Left, the Conservative Christian Fellowship and the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum - were getting up to at each of the events.

Christians on the Left in Manchester

Christians on the Left began the Labour Conference with a church service at St Ann's where Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK shared about tackling climate change. After the service, Labour leader Ed Milliband spoke to worshippers about the important work of Christians on the Left in not only getting Christians involved in politics but also as "the ethical beating heart of our movement".

The theme of the week for Christians on the Left was the persecuted church in Iraq and Syria. This saw Christians on the Left using the platform of the conference to propose a Contemporary Resolution to the issues faced in the Middle East. Furthermore on the Sunday evening Christians on the Left organised a candlelight vigil for Christians and other minorities persecuted in Iraq and Syria, with Open Doors providing stories from the region.

- Rob Carr, Christians on the Left

The Conservative Christian Fellowship in Birmingham

It was another great year for the CCF at the Conservative Conference. The CCF had one of the biggest and brightest stands in the exhibition hall, which hundreds of people visited including some parliamentary candidates seeking prayer and council.

The CCF also held a church service on the Sunday evening with Colin Bloom - CCF and Christians in Politics Director - opening with a spoken word poetry entitled 'Who is Jesus'. The Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart and Pastor Mark Ryan then shared some profound words about Jesus being the heart of the nation. Their words were added to by a video message from the Prime Minister as well as prayers and petitions from MPs and parliamentarians.

The CCF prayer breakfasts were perhaps the most popular events with each morning featuring a different Christian charity. Tearfund shared on modern slavery; Open Doors on religious persecution; and the Langley House Trust on families dealing with the incarceration of a loved one. These were tearful, challenging and prayerful occasions.   

- Rosina St James, Conservative Christian Fellowship

The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum in Glasgow

The Lib Dem Conference is perhaps one of the best demonstrations of democracy. It is not just a chance to showcase the best speakers and give an ego-boost to the party's leadership. Instead, it's a chance for the grass-roots of the party to come and keep their leaders to account. It's where party policy is made, through a democratic process of proposing motions, hearing speeches by ordinary members arguing both for and against those motions, and then giving the members a chance to vote. This conference saw voting on what should be in the manifesto, on new restorative justice measures, on equality policies including religious freedom and many other things.

At the conference many Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF) members were able to make a difference to party policy. One member made an important contribution on green issues; several others spoke to affirm the value of faith schools; and many supported new measures to build more affordable homes. The LDCF was there at conference as a visible presence, and the fellowship that developed through its events, socials and prayer meetings is a central part of why it exists. Decisions are made by those who show up, and at this conference many Christians took that responsibility seriously, making personal contributions (however small) which may well shape the nation.

- Claire Mathys, Liberal Democrat Christian Forum & Christians in Politics