Minster addresses faith and politics in live debate

Minster Series at Halifax Minster. From the left, Reverend Canon Hilary Barber, prospective councillor Surraya Bibi, Bishop of Huddersfield Jonathan Gibbs, shadow employment minister Stephen Timms, councillor John Hardy and councillor Peter Wardhaugh.
Minster Series at Halifax Minster. From the left, Reverend Canon Hilary Barber, prospective councillor Surraya Bibi, Bishop of Huddersfield Jonathan Gibbs, shadow employment minister Stephen Timms, councillor John Hardy and councillor Peter Wardhaugh.

Halifax Minster began the New Year by asking questions that really matter in the first of this year’s live public debates.

The Minster Series discussion focused on the ever topical subject of faith and politics.

The audience heard from guest speaker shadow mininster for employment and Labour MP Stephen Timms who challenged the widely-held belief that politics and faith should be kept separate.

A local specialised panel also offered their insight and took questions from the congregation in a public question and answer session.

Mr Timms said: “Faith is a great starting point for politics. It’s the source of the values we need to make politics work: responsibility, solidarity, patience, persistence, compassion and truthfulness.”

He said such values are needed to revive a damaged political structure and applauded churches for their support in social services such as foodbank provisions during recent economic hardship.

“At a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are struggling more, faith groups are bringing people together across divides of wealth. Faith groups can lay the foundations for new politics which can bring hope,” he said.

Vicar of Halifax Hilary Barber said: “Our guest speaker was well received; our local panel fully engaged with the issues he raised and lively questions were raised from the audience - which included representatives from Calderdale’s youth parliament.

“The Minster Series affirms the role of the Minster - serving the whole community across the town and borough.

“We look forward to the next public discussion.”

The next Minster Series will be on the topic of ‘crime and punishment’ on March 5, 6.30pm, at Halifax Minster.