Last night in Beeston there was a curious Methodist contribution to the recent discussion about prayers at Town Hall meetings. Broxtowe Borough Council was assembled for a critical debate on essential housing development and green belt encroachment: the public galleries and an overflow chamber were crammed full, our MP had travelled down from Westminster to act as cheer-leader for petitioners on one side of the issue, and East Midlands BBC TV parked its transmitter van on the Mayor’s lawn and [political editor] John Hess was interviewing the key players.
The bell rang out for prayers just before 7 o’clock, but the chaplain was nowhere to be seen. The quick-thinking Mayor called upon one of the two Circuit local preachers among the councillors to deputise, and he offered an extempore prayer which received a chorus of approving Amens from both councillors and residents. He went on to start the debate with a comprehensive speech proposing the adoption of a new core strategy for the next 15 years’ development.
It shows that having a star against your name on the circuit plan does not mean you aren’t regarded by people outside the church as still fully-accredited and active. And it shows that local Methodists are putting their faith into action in a very public way.