Reflecting on his former appointments in East London and Newcastle-on-Tyne of working as Methodist Minister, Hospital Chaplain and part time tutor with the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, Stephen is clearly committed to encouraging individuals and communities to be honest about their hopes and needs and finding how faith in God can help them be met in Body, Mind and Spirit.
Stephen is our Minister but is already known to us and well known on the Fylde Coast having lived and worked in Fylde for 18 years and prior to that he was a Minister in Blackpool.
Last Sunday I commented from the pulpit that my son-in-law, when seeing a cricket match taking place, commented “That’s not sport! Most of them don’t move.”
A member of the congregation commented as he left “I can’t believe you, a Yorkshireman, said that about cricket.” Another Yorkshireman reminded me “Cricket is still the national game not football!”
Be that as it may, while some of you may be debating about what constitutes sport, and I note interestingly the same son-in-law is quite happy to watch snooker, it made me reflect upon what I should or should not say in the pulpit.
When preparing my sermon, I decided to comment on the forthcoming election and realised a simple comment about one party would mean I would have to mention at least three other parties for balance. I have, at times, strong views on some of the policies and directions the different parties would take our country in, but can I say that from the pulpit? Your answer probably depends on whether you agree with me or not.
So often I know people keep quiet for fear of offending friends let alone strangers. Deep held views are often stifled to avoid conflict. We have all thought at some time “You can’t say that!” Without honesty and principle at the heart of our common life we will never have a society we can be proud of. The election requires honesty from voter and politician alike.
We all have our prejudices. We are all called to show respect and sensitivity to others. We each have an opinion and dodging the issue is not an option. What we say may not be what others expect but it needs to be what we believe and reflected in our vote. What do you say?