The “Poverty of Ambition? Churches and a Politics of Hope” conference, hosted by the Joint Public Issues Team of the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Methodist Church, took place on 22 January 2011, at Carrs Lane United Reformed Church in Birmingham.
The conference examined how churches can engage with contemporary political issues. A particular focus was how churches can respond to the cuts announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review and how this relates to the government’s concept of The Big Society.
The 150 strong audience heard the journalist and commentator Will Hutton speak on what it means to work towards a fair society, and what this may mean for taxation and media standards; Andrew Stunell MP, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, addressed the question of what the 'Big Society' means for local communities and the Rev Dr Kirsty Thorpe, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, drew the conference to a close by reflecting on what it means for Churches to be committed to a politics of hope.
Frank Kantor, the URC’s secretary for church and society commented: “It was a really good day, giving us all the opportunity to think about public issues and their impact on the churches. The URC needs to work at clarifying what we mean by The Big Society and how we can reconcile this with the work our church related community workers and other church members are doing.”
Audio files of the keynote speeches from this conference are online at Methodist web radio here