I'm very fortunate in my role to be part of a team of Youth Advisers - one for each Episcopal Area. My Colleague Andy P writes a weekly message to his Kairos Community - youthworkers and leaders in his area of the Diocese and I'm graciously included in that!
Each week it challenges and inspires me and I often forward it on or encourage others to sign up for the Facebook group of the same name. I'm posting Andy's offering for this week as it's timely and touches on the recent NASA (Natter About Synod Agenda)* focus group that we ran for young people recently. I was going to post on this anyway, but what Andy has written is much better and I hope encourages you and stimulates you in your youth work - or any other ministry for that matter - as we gear up for a monumental week or 10 days in our nation's history.
Over to Andy:"Morning all, hope you’re fighting fit and ready for another week....
It’s just over one week till the General Election, and a very important one it will be too. The challenge for this week is to be considering how we can get our young people interested in this apparently dull subject and, if you have young people eligible to vote, getting them to do so.
I personally believe that it is very much part of our Christian responsibility, duty even, to exercise our right to vote. As is often quoted, ‘we get the Government we deserve’, in other words, if we choose not to vote we can’t exactly complain about who gets into power and how we are governed. I also think therefore that we have a responsibility and a task as Churches, and especially youth workers to help young people gain a better understanding of why and how they should vote. This is as important as teaching our young people about what Paul says about love or how to conduct relationships...this is Gospel stuff.
I have always believed this, but there’s one reason why this year, this is even more important than ever, that is, the rise and potential power of the BNP. Shockingly, in the Barking Episcopal Area, there are BNP Candidates contesting local council seats in nine out of fourteen parliamentary constituencies. Let me quote from Bishop David’s recent letter to Churches and now issued as a press release:
‘Along with Church Leaders across London, I call upon all people of goodwill to reject racist politics in the forthcoming General Election and local elections.
We encourage people to vote in such a way as to prevent racist political parties making any more electoral gains - indeed to out-vote such parties where they have already been elected.
In particular, we urge people to reject the British National Party (BNP) and similar political organisations.
As church leaders we do not endorse any particular political party and recognise that there are many social issues which require much closer attention from elected politicians, not least those of housing, immigration, unemployment and the sheer speed of social change in some of our white working class communities. However, we call on everyone to reject the BNP and like-parties. They will not provide unifying solutions to these issues.’
*As Youth Advisors we recently ran an event with young people on this very subject. It was quite remarkable to see the young people who, in the main, arrived ignorant of most things to do with politics or even any real idea of why it’s important, and who left so much more switched onto the power they have and the importance of voting.
Our own frustrations or apathy in regard to politics should not be an excuse for in-action, either in us not voting or failing to engage in this issue with young people.
When thinking of the power of politics and especially democracy we often use examples of places such as South Africa or Iraq where the right to vote is held in such high regard because it determines so much in terms of the dignity of human beings made in the image of God. This year in the United Kingdom, the importance of voting matters just as much – please vote, and please help your young people to do so too.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘Darkness cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."