North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit

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North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit


Dear Friend,

 The starting gun has been fired and the race is on to get to Number 10! On 4th  July 2024 we will cast our votes and the next day we will discover who will lead us through the next few years. Whoever wins the election will have a mammoth task ahead of them dealing with international issues as well as those of our own country. World peace, climate change and the plight of refugees, along with the economy, the NHS and the water crisis, to name a few.

 As the Joint Public Issues Team, (JPIT), (Churches working for peace and justice), say, “We cannot ignore the challenges facing society today, and we need to engage fully with democratic processes and decision-making. By participating in elections and political life, Christians can make a positive impact on the political landscape.” Over the coming weeks we will be able to do just that as we consider how the different manifestoes best fit our faith values and decide for whom we will vote. One mantra is “Love, Pray, Vote”.

 Some people argue that the Church should not be involved in politics, but as Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “When people say that religion and politics don't mix, I wonder which Bible it is they are reading.”  The Bible is full of references to justice and fairness, love and mercy. Issues raised by prophets, such as Micah, (6:8), and Amos, (5:10-12, 24), are as relevant today as they were in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land in 13th century BCE, Moses told them, “(God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:18). As JPIT comment, “Jesus taught about the issues and everyday choices facing ordinary people and those in power, and wasn’t afraid to confront unjust power structures that were harming the very people they were supposed to nurture and protect.”

 We still do what we can to help the “4.3 million children in the UK (who) are growing up in families without enough money to make ends meet”, through charities such as Action for Children. Methodist Homes for the Aged provides care for the elderly and All We Can supports refugees and others struggling to live in other countries. All these charities are great, responding to people’s needs, but I will be interested to see what the manifestoes say about eliminating child poverty and people needing to rely on Food Banks to survive. There are over 2,500 Food Banks in the UK. People are incredibly generous in giving to them, but working families shouldn’t have to depend on them when they are doing all they can to look after their loved ones. There is no easy answer as to how people can be lifted out of poverty, but it must be addressed in the political campaigns.

 I will also be looking to see what the parties propose to do to care for this fragile planet on which we live. I left my family’s farm in rural Devon in 1978, but the countryside has never left me! As stewards of God’s creation, we have a duty to look after it. A few days ago, I read again in the newspaper about the reduction in wildlife in our gardens, woods and hills, and the pollution of our countries’ rivers, lakes and seas. I was appalled and saddened by what I was reading. Then, at the end of the article, Chris Packham was writing about Restore Nature Now, which is a march through central London on 22nd June 2024. It is described as follows, “This legal, peaceful, inclusive and family-friendly demonstration aims to be the biggest gathering of people for nature and climate that the UK has ever seen. It is both a celebration of British nature and a protest calling for urgent political action on the nature and climate emergencies.” Here is something which I can do to make my feelings known!

 So, for the first time since the MAYC London Weekend marches to Trafalgar Square, I’ll be marching through London with Jane and many, many other people from the National Trust, the Woodlands Trust, A Rocha, (who are the ECO Church people), various Christian organisations, The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and numerous other supporters. The march from Park lane to Parliament Square will end with a rally involving numerous speakers – the programme is yet to be announced. It promises to be an eventful day. Jane and I just need to make our placards for 22nd June and then decide for whom to vote on 4th July!

 Stephen Skinner