Blair plans pre-election address to faith groups

 In the run-up to the General Election, Prime Minister Tony Blair will give a major address to the Church via live webcast, speaking about the vital role that he believes churches and other faith groups should play in building healthy, active and trusting communities. On March 22 at 12noon in London, Blair will reveal his vision for the role of faith in the UK today through the third in a series of Faithworks Lectures, given by the three leaders of the major political parties. He will address a selected audience of church leaders, representatives of other faiths and community activists from across the UK. The address will be simultaneously webcast live on: with local churches being encouraged to gather together to watch the lecture live or later in the evening. Following the lecture, the Prime Minister will answer questions from the audience as well as taking questions that have been emailed or texted in by webcast viewers. Rev Steve Chalke MBE, founder of the Faithworks Movement, who will host the event and who invited the Prime Minister to address this issue in response to his recently published book 'Trust - A Radical Manifesto' said: "The fact that Charles Kennedy, Michael Howard and now Tony Blair have all accepted Faithworks' invitation to address the Church as the election campaign gathers pace, sends some very clear messages about the role of faith-based groups - Christian and otherwise - and the task ahead in our communities. Churches are already delivering huge levels of voluntary community support across the UK because of our faith, not in spite of it, and it is time that this reality was publicly acknowledged. But more than that, our society will never enjoy the social regeneration we crave without spiritual renewal." The Prime Minister's lecture follows on from previous Faithworks Lectures delivered by the leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy on February 3 and by the leader of the Conservatives Michael Howard on February 23. The three lectures will be available for viewing from until August 2005. The Faithworks Lectures are part of the Faithworks Building Trust campaign, which aims to encourage churches, Christians and Christian organisations to model trustworthy behaviour in their local community. The campaign, launched in September 2004, features a nationwide tour of local churches along with a book by Steve Chalke, entitled Trust: A Radical Manifesto.

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