Our church based questioning of our election candidates was not as distinctively Christian as it might have been. I was landed on to chair the event on Sunday evening organised by Churches Together in North East Lincolnshire, so I may carry some responsibility for this, although there is of course nothing non-Christian about expressing concern for things like our economy and transport network.
All seven candidates for Grimsby were invited without generating the publicity for the BNP candidate which not inviting him might have done; the risk then was that some other candidates would indicate they’d not come if the BNP did, but in fact they did not, UKIP apologised, and the BNP didn’t even reply. So we had the three main parties and the two other local candidates.
One of them said to me before hand that he’d expect slightly different questions at a church sponsored event, and mentioned the question for overseas aid as a possible example. This didn’t turn out to be the case, I suspect partly because a good quarter of the audience appeared to be non-church based supporters of one of the candidates (some of whom took the opportunity to ask questions as if innocent members of the Churches Together audience) and partly because it may actually not have dawned on most of the church based attenders that this was what they might want to do at this event or anywhere else. With hindsight, I suspect I’d advise myself on a future occasion to be more explicit from the chair about this expectation.
We did get a question seeking support for marriage, but I was amused that this was quickly balanced by a question seeking support for gay inclusion, so it is not just within the Anglican Communion that there are different takes on what represents being distinctively Christian. But that was it. At the end, when there were three hands up but only time for one final question, I asked people to vote for which of the three topics they wished to have addressed, and was sad that the clear vote was then for an ‘electoral reform’ question rather than an ‘equality’ question.
And then I had the Bank Holiday off. We walked a small part of the Viking Way. I took this picture when we got the key to look inside Bigby Church; I’m sorry that none of my attempts to capture the wonderful details of the Tyrwhit tomb there came out well enough for sharing and we’ll need to go back again at some point to do better about this as well.