Following the appointment of Janet Daby MP as Shadow Faiths Minister in April 2020, Free Church of Scotland Mission Director Rev. David Meredith joined with other members of the Affinity Council, an evangelical group of church leaders from around the UK, in welcoming the Minister to their September meeting. The leaders were able to share their thoughts on a range of subjects, including how churches in the nonconformist and independent tradition are responding to the current pandemic.
After meeting the Shadow Minister earlier this year, Director of Affinity Graham Nicholls invited her to consult church leaders who often feel their voices are unheard, compared to the larger denominations. As a network, Affinity represents over 100,000 evangelical Christians across the UK.
The meeting with Janet Daby lasted around an hour in which a robust and honest conversation took place. Alongside the many difficulties church leaders face at the present time, they also shared with Janet some of the good news stories arising from their communities across the UK.
The discussion also highlighted the mental health of church leaders, the lack of free church representation on the Government’s Places of Worship Task Force and issues around free speech.
Graham Nicholls also said, "Over the last couple of years, Affinity has sought to develop its links in the political sphere, as we continue to encourage Christians to engage. I am delighted that the next step in this process was welcoming Janet Daby MP to our Council Meeting to share with some of our national leaders."
"We enjoyed a good-spirited conversation and were grateful that Janet sought to address the challenges and concerns that we have within the evangelical community."
"Janet's willingness to be a strong and robust voice for the concerns of Christians, particularly of our biblical views, within Parliament are welcome and we look forward to seeing how our relationship with her can build as she continues in this important role."
Reflecting on the meeting Mr Meredith said, "‘It was a great opportunity to engage with higher-level politicians on issues which concern Christians. However, I am under no illusion as to where the real power is to be found. The mission of the Church is to proclaim the gospel which brings radical change to our increasingly sick society. Political engagement is part of what we do but it’s a small part."
"Remember, a prayer meeting in a small rural church has access to more power than all the parliaments of the world combined. I pray for the day when politicians will seek meetings with us.’"
Janet Daby added, "One of the greatest privileges of my role is having the opportunity to meet with the dynamic and driven people who make up our religious communities. Their commitment to putting their faith into action to serve our wider society is a consistent inspiration to me.
"It was a pleasure to be invited to the meeting of the Affinity Council, and have the opportunity to hear the perspectives of evangelical leaders from across the UK. It is difficult to think of a time in recent history when church leaders have been under more pressure to support their congregations, but it’s clear they are rising to the challenge."
"However, it is evident that churches and their leaders need urgent support. Pastors are being stretched in all directions, and their own health is suffering. Places of worship are also struggling to manage the financial losses following lockdown, so for many, the future of their ministry isn’t certain."
"I am committed to getting ring-fenced support for places of worship so their great work and fellowship will prosper. I will continue to be a voice for the evangelical community, alongside all our faith communities, in Parliament.”