A new initiative is being launched in England and Wales to encourage church congregations to build a relationship with their local MP.
Meet Your MP aims to help Christians to engage with the representatives who make the political decisions that affect the country and our everyday lives, and to enable MPs to get to know their local churches better too.
“Like it or not, politics matters. In an age where our political discourse is increasingly fractured, Meet Your MP will help to build understanding and promote positive relationships between decision-makers and church communities,” explained Simeon Mitchell of the Joint Public Issues Team.
The initiative is based around the idea of churches inviting their MP to a special event or meeting.
“You could invite your MP to visit a church project or come along to an event, or take them on a walk of your local area to highlight issues that church members feel need to be addressed,” said Simeon. “It’s about going deeper than just sending an occasional letter or email, but really trying to get to know your representative in Westminster, and giving your MP an opportunity to better understand the activities and concerns of local churches. You are far more likely to be able to influence an MP over a particular issue in the future if you already have a relationship with them.”
A variety of useful resources to help facilitate these meetings are now available on the Joint Public Issues Team website, including a ‘how to…’ guide and a letter template that can be used to make contact with MPs. JPIT stresses that no previous political experience is required.
Meet Your MP was first developed by the ecumenical Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) and has been running in Scotland since March. Politicians and church leaders in Scotland have already praised the impact of the initiative.
“Meet Your MP is great for the churches and the MPs,” commented Joanna Cherry MP. “In my experience, quite often the movers and shakers in communities can be located in faith communities, so it is really important for parliamentarians to get to know them.”
Simeon Mitchell added, “We are very grateful to our colleagues in Scotland who have generously shared their excellent initiative, and encouraged and supported JPIT to develop a version for England and Wales. We hope it will result in lots more congregations and politicians getting involved.”