Reflecting on a successful conference

Last weekend, over 125 people descended on Sunningdale Park in Berkshire for the Christians in Politics Show Up Weekend. We came from all over the UK, from all sides of the political spectrum, and from all levels of political engagement. But we were all united in a desire to serve God in politics and public life.

We were privileged to be joined by some excellent speakers: Krish Kandiah inspired us to “Do God and Do Good in Politics”, Jonathan Oloyede challenged us to be catalysts for change, Ness Wilson highlighted the need for Godly character in leadership, and Os Guinness spoke on how Christians should engage with public life.

We heard from current Christian MPs Gary Streeter and Stephen Timms about how they connect their faith and politics, and we joined in with a Q&A session to a cross-party panel. Time in small groups was spent getting to know each other better and delving into Catholic Social Teaching with the help of video clips of Anna Rowlands. More practical application was covered in the seminars on party politics, effective campaigning, and media engagement.

Amidst the input from the front, there was also plenty of time for getting to know one another better and to take these discussions further, all with a healthy dose of laughter. It was this friendliness and sense of unity that struck many people who came, even to the surprise of some as can be seen in one write up of the weekend. Ness Wilson reminded us on Saturday evening that “unity in the church makes God’s love visible to a fragmented world and society” and indeed for Christians from all political leanings to come together and to be united does speak volumes to our current political world where tribalism rules.

There was a great sense that God was at work throughout the weekend. Many remarked on the importance that God was at the centre of what was happening, with time set aside for prayer and sung worship, as we need the Holy Spirit with us if we are to have any hope of change. The desire to see God’s Kingdom values at the heart of politics brought many to the weekend, and it sent many out. Another write up of the weekend focuses on the need for Christians to be influencers of culture, as it is only by being agents of change that Christians can hope to shape society for the better.

Jonathan Oloyede ended his talk on Saturday morning with a video showing the power of the domino effect; just a small nudge can set off a chain reaction that has a massive outcome. It is hoped that the ripple effect from this weekend will have a large impact on politics in the UK.

Already we can see some stepping out as a result. One delegate has just been selected to stand as a councillor in the local elections next May, and another has got an interview to be a candidate. Others have since joined a political party or committed to becoming more involved, with many others building on the network of relationships that they established at the weekend to take the call to political engagement back to their churches and local communities. Who knows what will happen as a result of this one weekend?