After much prayer and planning, the Conservative Christian Fellowship finally hit the road to attend the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester!
This year we partnered with seven Christian charities for the duration of the Conference – Christian Aid, Compassion, The Message Trust, The Trussell Trust, Open Doors, Life Charity, and Langley House Trust. Our stand was frequented by MPs, peers, coucillors, church leaders and supporters who were keen to see the CCF to continue our mission of bridging the gap between Christians and the Conservative Party.
The first event on the CCF conference calendar was the Annual Church service which we hosted in partnership with !Audacious Church and Christian Aid – who talked about ‘Stewarding God’s Creation’. During the service we were also joined by various Conservative MPs The Church Service was a vibrant celebration of Christian and Conservative presence in Manchester – there was a definite feeling that this was ‘One Nation, One City, One Jesus’including Desmond Swayne, John Glen, Fiona Bruce, David Burrowes, David Nuttall and Caroline Ansell. The CCF team felt God’s blessing in this opportunity to bring Jesus to the heart of the Party Conference in the form of a Church Service that was attended by almost 600 people.
We felt a line of continuity in the Party Conference message, from the very start of our conference events at the Church Service where pastor Glynn Barrett preached about the need for the nation to have a less ‘self-interested’ approach and instead to adopt an ‘other people focus’; to the very end of the Conference where the Prime Minister, David Cameron spoke about social justice. The CCF was greatly pleased by the message the Prime Minister had for the nation – he incorporated Kingdom Values into his speech. Speaking about Social Justice and the need to tackle all forms of injustice including social poverty and how the economy has benefited and will continue to benefit the poorer people of Britain. Also the need to tackle the prison system in Britain – it is something that the CCF has been advocating, the need to change the ‘catch-22’ prison system and the need for Britain to continue to provide the best opportunities to people of all social and economic backgrounds. We were also heartened to hear that the Prime Minister will continue to support decisive action around the Refugee Crisis. There was clear call by the Prime Minister for a united Britain without any socio-economic divides to hinder Great Britain, being Great.
During the Conference we continued CCF tradition of making time for Morning Prayer during breakfast. Our supporters, MPs and charity representatives spoke and prayed about various hot topic issues including Climate Change, Fuel Poverty and Life issues. For each Prayer Breakfast we were joined by a Member of Parliament that held an interest in the topic. This year the call for action was felt more than ever with more early risers attending our breakfasts and bigger charity projects that inspired our listeners to take the mantle and join the mission to be salt and light. To start us off, Councillor Miguel Magalang from the Philippines and Christian Aid shared in great detail the impact that Climate Change has on developing countries, as those present pledged to support Christian Aid’s Big Shift project. On Tuesday listeners prayed for the work of food banks across the country and pledged their support after Warren Done from the Trussell Trust described his experience of working with the Atherton & Leigh foodbank and meeting people who are referred for emergency food. Finally on Wednesday after David Bennet from LIFE Charity shared his first-hand experience of working with life issues including Assisted Dying and Mitochondria, many came forward to indicate their interest in supporting their local LIFE groups.
Our blessings continued as this year the CCF was based at a prime location in the Conference Centre – this ensured a constant flow of parliamentarians and ministers past our stand and gave our charity exhibitors the opportunity to promote their cause to those who have the influence to take the cause back to Parliament. Our exhibitors were specifically pleased by the fact that cabinet ministers would freely approach the CCF stand in order to discuss the issues that they represented. Of course friendships were made and there were many opportunities for our charity partners to network at Conference fringe events.
Finally we hosted one of our more intimate events – our ‘Supporter Supper’ on Tuesday evening where Dr Eliza Filby spoke about her newly published book ‘God and Mrs Thatcher’. Dr Filby shared the struggles that Thatcher faced in her attempts to modernise Britain yet at the same time ensure that Britain remained a largely Christian country. This was a relevant topic of discussion because in many ways that is the very mission of the CCF - which is to bring Kingdom values to the heart of Government. In retrospect we can look back at the time spent at conference as hugely successful where we as a team with our charity partners brought Jesus to the City and to the Nation – to keep Jesus and the Nation as one.