Nation's leaders must serve all people, says Methodist Church

Methodist leaders Doug Swanney, Martyn Atkins, Michaela Youngson and Mr Bala Gnanapragasam

Christians were in Parliament praying on Tuesday as MPs prepared to cast their votes on the Government's Brexit deal.

The Methodist Covenant Service took place in the historic Chapel of St Mary Undercroft under the Houses of Parliament as MPs above debated the deal negotiated by Theresa May - later resoundingly rejected by 230 votes.

The service of Communion and prayer has been an annual tradition for centuries, having been first instigated by one of the founders of Methodism, John Wesley.

The purpose of the service is to give the faithful an opportunity to be reminded of God's unconditional love and renew their Covenant with Him at the start of the year.

A special parliamentary Covenant Service has been held each year in the Palace of Westminster since 1995.

In addition to representatives of the Methodist Church, members of the Houses of Commons and Lords were also in attendance for Tuesday's service.

The President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Michaela Youngson and Bala Gnanapragasam, were among the roughly 200 present.

The Connexional Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain, Doug Swanney, gave the address.

'Our leaders must seek to serve the whole people, not just the ones they agree with or find to be like them,' he said.

'As leaders we must all serve the whole community before us. The covenant we engage in tonight offers us a better understanding of who we are.

'It points us towards making choices and being active in the world to make changes.

'It is a covenant that calls us to be together in that endeavour - to be God's people in the world.'

Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, Superintendent Minister of Methodist Central Hall Westminster who facilitated the service said: 'None of us know what the year will bring for ourselves, our families, our communities, nations and our world.

'We hope the service provided a time for those meeting to reflect and prepare for the year ahead, among others, and before God.'