Thought for the Month (May 2008)

In January, three of us, representing Christians Together in Tunbridge Wells, visited Acting Chief Inspector Jon Kirby to discuss greater co-operation between the police and the churches in and around Tunbridge Wells. It was a positive and productive meeting and clearly the police are very committed to community policing and co-operating with other community bodies.

Now you may be asking why we would want to be involved with the police? After all, you might add, we are not involved with the police now, can't we just let them get on with it?

I think there are two main reasons for the change. Firstly the police are realising that they cannot do their job properly without co-operation from community bodies including the churches. On the other side the churches are realising that it is just not acceptable to delegate the control of evil in our society to a secular body and then not support them in their task.

As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 13, we are called to submit ourselves to the governing authorities, and the other side of that coin is that we should help those authorities where possible. This attitude prevails unless the regulations of the state go against the regulations of God.

For the moment, however, we believe that there is no clash of loyalties in supporting the police and that we can help them significantly in doing their work. We can do practical things such as invite our local police men and women to coffee after the service to get to know them. We can put their photographs on the notice boards. There may be occasions when we could be involved in reconciliation because some of the people involved in our churches do get in trouble with the law. Hawkenbury URC has offered their hall to the police as a 'surgery' where local people can pop in and speak to the local police officer.

Now these are all good and helpful, but it could be argued that other organisations such as Neighbourhood Watch, the Borough Council, youth clubs etc could do just as good a job or better in these areas. This may be true but never forget that churches have a very comprehensive coverage in the town and surrounding villages and this is a great advantage to the police.

But the one other area where these other organisations could not be effective is prayer. A distinctive feature of Christians is that we pray and I believe it is in this area that we can be most effective. What we said to the police is that if they give us information we will pray for them. We are encouraging the churches to pray for their local police officers and police community support officers on a regular basis and the police are now providing us with crime information so that the Prayer Wall in the town can pray against crime and for the solving of outstanding crimes. (Please pray that the police will find and prosecute the killer of Terry Edmonds)

It is in the area of prayer that we can make a difference and we have said to the police that if they give us issues to pray for we would expect to see an improvement as a result of our prayers. There are many examples around the country where this has already happened.

On 9th May, as part of Prayer Week, we are holding an ecumenical prayer meeting in Tunbridge Wells URC at which we have asked someone from the police to speak about the challenges they face in Tunbridge Wells so we can pray more effectively. (Coffee at 7.30 pm, starting at 8 pm. Do please come, and the first part of the meeting will finish at about 9 pm if you want to leave then)

On Good Friday we saw the depths of evil at work in our world so let's do our bit in the name of Jesus to keep the powers of evil in check. Let's support the police and build a positive relationship with the society of which we are a part. When you next read of some horrible crime in Tunbridge Wells, the best way to overcome fear is to pray. Try it and see.

On 11th May we celebrate Pentecost when God sent the Holy Spirit to empower the newly formed church. Let's use that power in prayer as we pray that Tunbridge Wells will become an even better place to live.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15 v 13).

With love,

Bob and Karen

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church