THE President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Gill Newton and Deacon Kerry Scarlett, have released a statement urging people to use their vote in the forthcoming General Election, and highlighing poverty in the UK as a priority issue.

The statement reads:

Our hope is that this will be an election campaign where people will be able to discuss and disagree with kindness, where truth will be upheld, and where the needs of people who are vulnerable will be honoured. As Christians, over the weeks ahead we are called to participate actively, ask questions, listen well, seek justice and the common good, and surround the process in prayer.

There will be all kinds of issues on the agenda during this campaign. But as we seek to follow Jesus’s commandment to love our neighbour, we particularly challenge all who aspire to form the next government to set out what they will do to tackle poverty in the UK.

One in five people in our communities are held back by poverty, and over a million children currently live in destitution. This is causing immense harm to individuals, families and communities.

But poverty is not inevitable, and those with power can make choices that could end poverty for good. We urge all those who seek our votes to commit to make poverty a priority.

Finally, we encourage people to use their votes, and to ensure others can too. Voting is a hard-fought privilege still denied to many around the world. Churches will be active in ensuring everyone eligible is registered to vote and has appropriate photo ID, so that they are not denied the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. We should all be able to have our voices heard during this election, and to join in making choices that will shape the future of our society.

* Resources to help prepare for and engage with a General Election, from the Joint Public Issues Team, available here.

* Source: The Methodist Church