In his role as Labour Party Faith Envoy, Stephen accompanied Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, and Chuka Umunna MP to Ruach City Church in Brixton today. The church held a special memorial service for Nelson Mandela, who visited Brixton in 1996 with over 10,000 people turning out to see him.
The service included a message from founding pastor, Bishop John Francis, as well as presentations from some members of the congregation which recalled how the late Labour Party politician, Hugh Gaitskell MP, had been among the first to make a public stand against apartheid in a speech on 28 February 1960 in Trafalgar Square.
Ed Miliband, who was introduced to the congregation by local Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, spoke with passion and conviction about the importance of reconciliation and community spirit.
Ed said: "[Nelson Mandela] teaches us we can overcome our fears in our own lives. He teaches us too the lesson of reconciliation. After all he went through and after all he faced, he reached out to his oppressors to unify his country, not seek revenge. He knew the power of a community, a country that stands together, not one driven apart. He teaches us also the lesson of hope. Despite all the odds, in the struggle against apartheid, he won through. And why did it happen? Because of the power of people coming together, a movement...Let us keep the faith. And let us continue his long walk to justice."
Speaking after the service, Stephen said: "I would like to thank Bishop John Francis and Ruach City Church for giving us an opportunity today to reflect on a life well lived. Nelson Mandela embodied values so integral to the Christian faith: forgiveness, reconciliation, hope and perseverance. He didn't relent in his pursuit of justice, and nor should we."