Earlier today, Stephen gave a key note speech at the 2014 Birmingham Prayer Breakfast. Over 100 people attended the event at the Birmingham Town Hall from church leaders, including the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, and business leaders to local Council leaders and the Lord Mayor, Shafique Shah.
The Birmingham Prayer Breakfast began in 2006 and is jointly organised by Birmingham Cathedral and ChaplaincyPlus, an organisation which seeks to support the professional business community in Birmingham.
Speaking on "Faith in Birmingham", Stephen encouraged those gathered that "faith is a great starting point for politics" adding that "faith in Jesus is the source of exactly the values you need to make politics work: solidarity, patience, persistence, compassion, truthfulness."
He continued: "if we are talking about faith in politics what we are really talking about is hope. Hope is at the heart of Christian faith. Christians therefore uniquely can get hope into our politics and if there is one thing that needs to be done to repair politics in Britain, that’s it – to reignite hope for the future. But hope in the Bible is not a wishy washy kind of hope that things will be better someday somewhere beyond the blue. In the Bible hope is a down to earth, pull up your sleeves, work hard kind of hope. Tom Wright, the former Bishop of Durham put it like this. “People who believe in the resurrection, in God making a whole new world in which everything will be set right at last are unstoppably motivated to work for that new world in the present”. That’s what hope in Christ provides. And we need it."
Stephen also praised Birmingham City Council for being the first local authority to adopt the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society's Convenant for Engagement. The APPG, of which Stephen is the Chair, has drawn up a covenant between faith communities and local authorities, which seeks to "unlock the potential of every part of our society" to meet the "fresh demands" of the coming decade. The covenant is a joint commitment between faith groups and local authorities to a set of principles that "guide engagement, aiming to remove some of the mistrust that exists and to promote open, practical working on all levels."
Speaking of the Council's commitment, Stephen said: "I hope that adoption of our covenant will be one way in which the city of Birmingham, the largest local authority in Europe, is able to continue to serve the people of the city and I’m delighted to see so many people here this morning. I think that that is only good news for Birmingham. I also hope that we are going to see Birmingham blazing a trail for many others around Britain to follow."