Devon’s churches and cathedral offer a ‘service to democracy’ by hosting hustings
Churches in Plymouth are playing their part in the General Election campaign by hosting candidate hustings.
The first took place on 25 November at Methodist Central Hall.
The hustings have been organised by the Churches Together in Plymouth organisation and this is the fourth General Election it has run them, the previous ones were 2010, 2015 and 2017.
Its chair, Chris Clewer, said: “We were initially asked by the Plymouth University Chaplain if we’d consider doing it.
“By now, we have become quite practised at doing them as we run a husting for each of the three Plymouth constituencies each time.
“In 2010 we were told by the sitting Labour MP it was the best organised husting she’d ever attended.
“Whether you agree with a particular candidate or not you should be supporting them and praying for them”
Chris said offering a building is something churches can do: “I think it is a service to Plymouth and democracy that the churches can easily accommodate, because the one thing the church community certainly has, is the ability to provide a meeting place in every corner of the city.
“It seems a great opportunity to get people from local neighbourhoods into church buildings to show them what warm welcoming places they are and maybe encourage some of them to visit again on a Sunday.
“We always encourage them to do that. It’s also an opportunity to thank candidates who are prepared to stand for public service – which seems such a very thankless and demanding role in this day and age.”
Hannah Fleming-Hill, who is in her twenties and attended the hustings at Methodist Central Hall, said: “With an expectation that the evening would be similar to the behaviour we see in the news, the hustings were a calm yet frank and open conversation about the reality of Plymouth in the upcoming elections.
“Most moving was when one of the church leaders there thanked each of the candidates for having the courage to stand and said that the churches in Plymouth would all continue to pray for them.
“I’m not particularly political but it was a positive experience to hear the voices of party representatives and the constituents of the city, especially coming together with other Christians in a church.
“You can’t separate faith and politics and often we ignore it or think we can’t talk about politics in a faith environment or vice versa especially when it concerns those in need, without a voice or someone vulnerable.”
Hustings are also due to take place for South West Devon at Plymstock United Church at 7pm on 6 December and for Plymouth Moorview at 7pm on 10 December at Derriford Church.
“Encouraging community and civic life is at the heart of our ministry”
Exeter Cathedral is hosting hustings for the Exeter constituency on Monday 2 December at 7.45pm.
The Hustings will be chaired by the Dean of Exeter, the Very Reverend Jonathan Greener. He said it was right that the Cathedral, which has stood at the heart of the city and county for nearly a thousand years, should host the event.
“Encouraging community and civic life is at the heart of our ministry. We invite everyone to come along and ask questions of those who wish to represent us in Parliament.”
Across Devon more than 50 Church of England churches and church halls are being used as polling stations on 12 December.
A full list of candidates standing in Devon can be found here.