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23 July 2012

Black majority churches pledge more political engagement

Black majority churches pledge more political engagement

The Alliance has welcomed a new pledge by black majority churches to engage more fervently in the political process.

On Tuesday, 17 July, representatives of some of Britain's largest black-led churches agreed a plan to radically change the relationship between the black church movement and the country's politics.

Speakers at the meeting in London included Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote, Rev George Hargreaves of the Christian Party, and academic and documentary presenter Dr Robert Beckford.

Meeting as part of Churches Together in England's minority ethnic Christian Affairs, the group committed itself to write a Black Church Political Manifesto within six months - well ahead of the next general election - after engaging in a wide-ranging consultation process.

The manifesto will map the challenges faced by the black community in Britain along with other disadvantaged urban dwellers, the actions the black church movement itself will take, and the demands it will make in return for the votes of the Black Christian community.

One of the commitments is to partner with Operation Black Vote to launch a national Voter Registration Campaign.Simon Woolley, director of OBV said: "Approximately 50 per cent of African and Caribbean people in London are not registered to vote, while 50 per cent of black young people are unemployed.The black community in Britain must rise up and make its votes count because there are over 100 seats in this country where the Black Vote can determine who wins; and the Black Church has a pivotal role to play in changing the current situation."

The meeting also called upon black majority churches and the community to engage in political resistance where appropriate as well as ensuring they vote at elections, join political parties, run for local and national elected office as counsellors and MPs, seek to become JPs, school governors and chaplains, in greater numbers.

Commenting on the meeting, Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, said: "The commitment by black churches to play a greater role in local and national politics is a very welcome development. Right across the UK, at every level of government, there are huge opportunities to serve and lead. I hope that the black majority churches will seize this kairos moment to provide much needed vision and energy in our political system."

Pictured: Bishop Joe Aldred of Churches Together in England's minority ethnic Christian Affairs