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A Different Congregation

I’ve been to the Wesley Memorial church (Methodist) in Oxford twice this week. On Sunday afternoon it was for a wedding, where you expect a diverse crowd. Yesterday was to hear Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith in a public meeting organised by the local Labour party.

The church was full but what struck me was that I didn’t know anyone else in the room. Indeed, apart from local MP Andrew Smith, I don’t think I even recognised anyone else. Should I be surprised? After all, I don’t have a long history of active involvement in the local party. I did expect there might be a few more familiar faces given that Oxford is a small city and I have been involved with the University, churches and musicians, all of which groups have strong ‘red’ streaks.

I didn’t count how many people were in the room. It was perhaps up to 300 at a very rough estimate, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the Oxford population of about 160K (and the draw from regions beyond – Smith is touring round but can’t visit every holt and heath in the land). Still, there is definitely scope for more cross fertilisation between all those groups.

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