Martin Charlesworth
Brexit Britain: what now for the Church?

This is the second in a short series of blogs on Brexit. Read the first part here.

So where do we go from here in the strange surreal world of Brexit Britain? The decision has been made, but the divorce with the EU has not really begun. No one quite knows what is going to happen or how it is all going to work out. It is like a married couple who have decided to split up but are still living in the same house until alternative accommodation is organised for the leaving partner!
We have a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, but political life in Britain remains in turmoil in the wake of the Brexit vote. So what should the Church be doing now?
Here are three things that I think we should address at this time:
Firstly, we need to pray for our nation with urgency and faith! There has hardly been a time of such uncertainty in living memory. We are embarking on a significant change of direction with no certain outcomes. We should not underestimate the power of prayer. Don’t forget the words of Paul the apostle in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanks giving be made for all people – for rulers and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” The peaceful and quiet life that Paul had in mind implied political stability, social harmony and economic security – things we need in the UK right now!
Secondly, we should be proactive and vigilant in promoting social harmony – especially concerning the issues of race and immigration.  Friends all over the country are alerting me to the fact that racial tensions are currently more evident in their communities and that many EU nationals (and others) are feeling particularly insecure right now. The Church has a vital role to play here. Public statements on this issue are important. Reassuring and supporting people we know is important. Many churches will also have the opportunity to work with local authorities, schools and the police to combat any spike in racism at this time. It will take courage and focus – but it needs to be a top priority right now.
Thirdly, the Church remains the voice of the poor. This is a key part of the Jubilee+ mandate. In all the Brexit discussions that are taking place there has been very little said about the poorest sectors in our society and the implications for them of any political changes or economic changes in the months and years to come. As I said in a previous post, economic downturns always lead to greatest pressure on the poorest. This is a significant risk. We need to be alert to this and willing to speak and act on behalf of those who might lose out in the strange world of unintended consequences arising from the Brexit decision in the recent referendum.

Next week we'll look at what's next for the nation...