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Why prayer is important to council business

Good 3wwwFollowing the recent High Court ruling, and subsequent government statement, about prayers before council meetings, Norfolk County Council Chaplain, Rev Chris Copsey, explains why she believes they are still an important part of local government business.
There has been much debate, since the High Court ruling, about prayers at council meetings. I wonder if many of the comments are grounded in misunderstanding?

As Chaplain to Norfolk County Council, I lead prayers before full Council meetings. It gives a brief time to stand together in stillness before the formal agenda begins. This time of stillness and reflection gives everyone an opportunity to step aside from the often frantic preparation before the meeting and collect their thoughts before a short prayer.

Each prayer is an expression of thanksgiving, concerns, hopes and aspirations for the tasks to be debated, planned and decided upon. The prayers are centred around universal themes - justice, integrity, discernment and good provision for communities in all their diverse needs. These prayers are offered with no sense of exclusion or compulsion, so that those of all faiths and none can approach them in their own way.

These prayers are to continue to be offered, with the wonderful opportunity for personal and corporate reflection for the elected members and Officers of Norfolk County Council who can share a sense of common purpose and know God's grace.

These formal prayers are only part of the Chaplain’s role in this busy workplace. The Chaplain takes a part in leading Remembrance and Christmas services as well as Armed Forces Day and an interfaith commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.
 
As the Chaplain at County Hall in Norwich, I am available to both officers and members of Norfolk County Council, of all religious faiths and none. My role includes being alongside people in the workplace; to share their anxieties, delight in their joys and to listen to personal or work related matters.
 
Work is normally demanding but it can be very stressful if change or circumstances challenge self-confidence or job security. It’s particularly true at times of illness, bereavement or other personal or family pressures.
 
These pastoral encounters are a large part of the job and sign posting to other professionals and faith leaders is part of the chaplaincy support.

Read our previous article on this topic