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Saying prayers is hot topic for Norfolk councils

The issue of saying prayers before local council meetings has become a hot topic in Norfolk over the past couple of months, with one town council rejecting the idea and another backing it. Andy Latham reports.

During the summer, two differing proposals considering saying prayers prior to town council meetings were placed before different town councils in Norfolk and both motions were rejected.

Wymondham Town Council considered a motion from councillor Tony Holden for prayer prior to the council’s meetings saying that it would offer the chance to “reflect and prepare” for the business ahead.

barry-and-lorraineThe motion was supported by Barry Rooks (pictured with his wife Lorraine), pastor of Alive Wymondham who believes that prayer will help the council make decisions and is a positive feature for the council to introduce.

There were divided opinions in the council with Mr Holden saying “I’ve been asked by several members of the public why this council does not have prayers. A quiet moment of reflection is seen as an opportunity to prepare and focus. We are a Christian country.” 

Councillor Julian Halls added: “If we as a council decide to implement a requirement for prayers, the best I can suggest is that we desist from the use of the word Christian and that we devote a minute’s silence for us all to commune with our God or non-God as the case may be, in a private manner and form which will not embarrass anybody, force nobody to leave and give those who wish to an opportunity to pray.”

The motion was defeated after voting.

In August, Aylsham Town Council considered a proposal from councillor Lloyd Mills to amend the town council’s standing orders with the following statement: “No prayer or communal oath-taking of any kind shall take place during any meeting of the town council nor in the 30 minutes preceding any such meeting.”

During discussion, Mr Mills explained that this was not an anti-Christian stance as the intention was to apply this to all religions. Following discussion the proposal was defeated and the option of prayers remains.

Referring to the Wymondam debate, Barry Rooks said: “We want the best for Wymondham and we are grateful to the councillors for their time and the love that they have for the town; as a church we believe God’s wisdom is the best and that councillors will benefit from that wisdom by praying prior to their meetings.”

Alive Wymondham are committed to continuing to pray for their town council and will keep communications open with the councillors, as well as their local schools and business groups, and they want to inspire others to interact with their local town councils by praying for them, attending meetings and supporting motions for prayer to be introduced before meetings.

Does your local council say prayers before its meetings – let us know at andy.latham@networknorwich.co.uk

 


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