Value Our Vote Campaign Launched at Church of the Martyrs

With a general election expected to take place this year, Roz Burch and Wendy Bebbington from the Church of the Martyrs in Leicester, have launched a local campaign, Value Our Vote, to encourage people to register to vote, connected to a national campaign being run by Citizens UK.
The pair have produced three videos with members of their church community, talking about why they think it is important to take part in elections; designs for badges; a script which can be used to introduce the campaign; and a prayer – all of which they have made available for other worshipping communities to use.

For Roz and Wendy, participating in democratic processes is an important expression of their Christian faith. Wendy says: “I try to follow Jesus’ way and examples to guide my everyday life, and when I reached voting age felt a huge sense of pride and responsibility, that my vote would make a difference. But who should I vote for?
“In Matthew 25:42-45 Jesus clearly explains that we need to feed the hungry look after the sick and take care of those in prison. I felt I’d never be able to do all of these things, but our politicians have incredible power to do good (or not!), so I realised that choosing the politician/party which most align to the values that Jesus teaches us is part of how I can follow Jesus.”

Roz also says Matthew 25 has had a big impact on how she lives out her faith, alongside the books of the Prophets and the work of Christian thinkers and theologians like Jim Wallis and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

The community organising methods used by Citizens UK also struck Wendy as a strong “witness of our faith”. After getting involved with the Equal Access to Healthcare Campaign, she says she “could see this team were hearing the unheard and speaking with key decision makers in the NHS to make real change”, which seemed to fulfil the encouragement “throughout the bible to love justice and mercy”. So when she learnt about the national Citizens UK voter registration campaign, she and Roz teamed up to bring it to life in Leicester and Leicestershire.

Together, Roz and Wendy produced videos based on interviews with people from all kinds of backgrounds about why voting matters to them, so that churches across the diocese could share them with their communities. They also designed a logo for the Value Our Campaign to put on badges.

“We spent a fun evening making pin-on button badges and then offered the badges to our congregation after we’d shown them a couple of the videos and explained the campaign,” Roz explains.

“We also brought a laptop in the church so people could check online if they were registered to vote, and to find out what to do about voter ID. Most people took a badge, some took more than one badge to share with family and friends and we encouraged them to use the badges as discussion starters.

“As we have a number of students in the congregation we thought it was especially important for them to know that a change of address means you have to register to vote at the new address (it’s also a legal requirement). We’re also developing a strategy to engage with and develop relationships with our local MPs or prospective candidates.”

Bishop Martyn and Bishop Saju recently wrote to all ministers in the diocese to encourage them to engage with the general election, saying: “Participating in elections is an important way in which we can show love for our neighbour and seek the welfare of our communities (Jeremiah 29:7). And whenever political debates become hostile and dehumanising, we as Christians can serve as salt and light by being voices of compassion, mercy and peace. 

“As leaders within your worshipping communities, you may wish to hold hustings with candidates in your area, encourage members to register to vote and remind them about the new photo ID requirements, and, above all, to pray - for generosity and gentleness in debates, and wisdom in policymaking.

“We would also encourage you to engage with children and young people in your community about the election, what changes they would wish to see to their communities and the wider world, and how civic and political engagement can be an expression of one’s Christian faith. We know that the decisions of politicians and policy-makers have a significant impact on children and young people both now and in the future, and therefore so do the votes we cast. So, creating a space for their voices to be heard is one way in which we help our communities become more intergenerational.”

Click here to download guidance for churches on hosting a hustings or 'question time' event.

First published on: 13th February 2024
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