Prime Minister Theresa May hosted a Downing Street reception on Shrove Tuesday, where she paid tribute to the work of the Christian community.
Many faith leaders were invited to the reception, representing all parts of the Church and the United Kingdom: the Black Majority Churches, the Network Churches, Parliament’s own Church, St Margaret’s Westminster, and church leaders, such as Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Sentamu and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, who is standing down after more than 20 years.
Theresa May stated: “As Prime Minister, I am hosting an annual reception for each of the main faiths in our country – and this one is of particular importance to me, personally. Growing up in a vicarage, I know first-hand the many sacrifices involved and the hard work that so many of you do, from the services and ministry in your churches, to the comfort and guidance you provide to millions in our country at some of the most difficult moments in their lives. Whether it is visiting the sick or bereaved; delivering faith-inspired projects, like the Christmas Day lunch that I join in my constituency each year, or acting as volunteers and aid workers in war-torn parts of the world… we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude and, as Prime Minister, on behalf of the whole country, I want to say a very big Thank You.
“I also believe it is right that we should celebrate the role of Christianity in our country. We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of. We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.
“I also believe that Christianity has an important role to play in making Britain a country that works for everyone. The Church will not always agree with everything that the government says – and the government will not always agree with the Church, but I think there are many areas where we can work together.”
Church leaders attending included: Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop John and Pastor Penny Francis, Dr Bishop Joe Aldred, Rev David Shosanya, Pastors Agu and Sola Irukwu, Rev Kingsley Appiagyei, Bishop Eric Brown, Bishop Donald Brown, Rev Nims Obungi and Keep The Faith publisher, Shirley McGreal.