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Christian vote key to general election

HOPES: Pastor Omooba

WITH A general election planned for May 7, church leaders are making efforts to ensure that the country’s political parties are aware of the aspirations of the black Christian constituency, as well as encourage them to vote.

Last month, the first ever Black Church Political Mobilisation - A Manifesto For Action, to be jointly produced by Britain’s African and Caribbean church leaders, was published and sent to black church leaders, Parliamentarians (both Commons and Lords) and other leaders in public life, including Church of England bishops, the Catholic church and other traditional denominations.

The manifesto, which has been produced by the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF), covers nine areas of concern: church and community, policing and criminal justice, prisons, mental health, voting and political mobilisation, family and marriage, youth and education, media, music, arts and culture, and international aid and development.

INFLUENCE

The NCLF expects this ground-breaking document to be closely studied by political strategists given the growing size and influence of the black church movement, which has grown significantly in recent years. Nearly half (48 per cent) of church-goers in London are black or minority ethnic (BME) Christians, and it is estimated there are 500,000 black Christians who live in urban areas covering some of the UK’s most marginal constituencies.

Operation Black Vote (OBV) estimates that the BME vote could decide the electoral outcome in up to 168 marginal seats.

With this fact in mind, the manifesto sets out a five-point ‘voter registration’ plan for churches to encourage greater political engagement by church members.

Written following a number of consultation sessions, the manifesto was collated by NCLF co-chairs, Dr David Muir and Pastor Ade Omooba, and has received widespread support from church leaders.

Following the publication of the manifesto, Pastor Omooba said: “I am excited that for the first time the black church movement has been able to speak into the electoral debate in this way, highlighting concerns but also proposing positive steps to take.

“I hope that our political leaders who have expressed so much interest in the black community’s vote are now prepared to listen and discuss these recommendations.”

Whilst the NCLF manifesto seeks to raise awareness of the concerns of black communities, the One People’s Commission, a body of the Evangelical Alliance comprising key national church leaders from various black and minority communities, has produced a video encouraging black Christians to vote.

Ministers featured in the video include Bishop Wilton Powell of the Church of God of Prophecy, Pastor Modupe Afolabi of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Siew-Huat Ong of the Chinese Church in London and Bishop Eric Brown of the New Testament of Church of God and Pentecostal president of Churches Together in England.

Yemi Adedeji, director of the One People Commission, said: “As key church leaders in this nation, we have a great responsibility to come together to focus on the common and most pressing needs of churches from across denominations and ethnicities.

“We have been brought together for such a time as this - to get politicians to take notice of the Church; to rally the Church itself to be excellent in all God has called us to do; and to equip church leaders to engage the next generation - moving them from being the missing generation to the leaders of tomorrow.”

You can download ‘Black Church Political Mobilisation - A Manifesto For Action’ at www.nclf.org.uk

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