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18 May 2012

Tony Blair speaks to Christian leaders

Tony Blair speaks to Christian leaders

Former prime minister Tony Blair said “a world without faith would be a world on the road to tragedy” at a conference organised by Alliance member Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) this week.

Alliance senior staff were among more than 4,000 leaders from all over the world who attended the HTB Leadership Conference at the Royal Albert Hall.

The event was hosted by HTB vicar Nicky Gumbel and offered four seminar streams in addition to the main sessions – Church, Commerce, Community and Culture.

Mr Blair was interviewed by Rev Gumbel about his faith and his views on leadership, in an interview which emphasised the vital importance of faith in today’s world.

He said: “I think a world without faith would be a world on the road to tragedy and disaster. I really believe that. The essence of our faith - besides all the things we believe about Jesus Christ and his place in our lives - is also fundamentally a belief there is something bigger and more important than you.”

He also spoke about the occasion when he had considered ending a speech with “God bless Britain” but had been persuaded to renounce the idea.

He said: “I remember when I was doing some address to the country when I was prime minister. The American president finishes an address to the American people by saying ‘God bless America’. I had the idea of finishing my address by saying ‘God bless Britain.’ This caused consternation in the whole system. So a committee was convened to discuss it and they said you can’t really. I remember we had this debate on and off and then finally one of the civil servants in a very po-faced way said, ‘I would just remind you, prime minister, that this is not America.’ So I gave up on the idea.”

Also speaking was Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California and author of The Purpose Driven Life, one of the fastest selling book of all time, who led prayers at the inaugurations of both president George W Bush and president Barack Obama.

Other speakers included the Bishop of London; Sir Paul Coleridge, a high court judge in the family division; and Judah Smith, lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle, Washington, with a multi-site congregation of 7,000 people.

Hector Sants, a Christian, who is chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, also spoke at the event.

Krish Kandiah, the Alliance’s executive director: churches in mission, who attended the conference, said: “It was an inspiring gathering of leaders from a very wide variety of backgrounds. There was a strong call to sacrificial service in obscurity and an urgent plea to not leave it too late to pass the baton of leadership onto the next generation.”

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