Having Faith in Essex
The past few days have highlighted for me the importance of faith groups in building and sustaining safe and peaceful communities.
Last Friday a member of Hawkwell Baptist Church, Martin Butler, won the Rochford Citizen of the Year award. Martin works tirelessly in his local community supporting a wide range of groups – some associated with his church, but many others not. Recently through his involvement with youth football he has also given effective practical support to young offenders from the local area.
On Saturday I was privileged to speak at the Eastern Region “Peace Symposium” organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK which was held at Theydon Bois.
This community, based in south London is one of the oldest Muslim communities in the UK. It works with everyone, regardless of race or religion, to serve local people through fund raising, providing humanitarian work and by devoting time and expertise for social projects.
Then on Sunday, I shared in a service at Chelmsford Cathedral to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Essex County Council. The Church of England Bishop of Chelmsford, Essex born and bred Stephen Cottrell, reminded everyone there and especially those of us who hold positions of responsibility, of our duty tirelessly to serve our neighbours – the communities in which we live.
We can’t take peaceful, safe communities for granted. Inclusive faith communities, at their best, challenge us all to think about what serving our neighbours means; they sustain and support their members who step forward to become involved; and they can and often do lead by example to care for those most in need in our communities.
I am grateful for all those faith communities in Essex who genuinely work to build understanding, to support their members engaged in community service of all sorts, and who actively promote and help sustain safe, loving and peaceful neighbourhoods and care for those many people in need.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex