Speech to Dartford Free Church Council
|Document type:||public statement|
|Venue:||Spital Street Methodist Church, Dartford, Kent|
|Source:||Dartford Chronicle, 8 June 1951|
‘BEST TRIBUTE TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH’
MISS ROBERTS DEPUTISES FOR SIR RICHARD ACLAND FREE CHURCHES HAVE DRAWN CLOSER TOGETHER
"The best tribute of all to the Christian faith from a lay person is that in spite of all other organisations in this country to-day one can so quickly switch from one power group to the representative of another power group and ask both to speak on the same subject. That is obviously because that subject is the basis not only of our national life, but of the life of the world to-day."
Miss Margaret Roberts, prospective Conservative candidate for Dartford, said this when addressing Dartford Free Church Federal Council at their annual meeting at Spital-street Methodist Church on May 30. The speaker was to have been Sir Richard Acland, M.P., but he was detained in the House. Mr. Norman Dodds, M.P., was also detained.
The Rev. H. Austin Fairhurst (retiring president) said that Sir Richard and Miss Roberts had been asked to come to the meeting not because of any party label, but because of their sound Christian convictions.
In welcoming Miss Roberts and the Mayoress of Dartford (Mrs. F. M. E. Firman), he said they were fortunate in having a Mayor and Mayoress of the calibre of Mr. and Mrs. Firman, and were delighted they were to carry on for another 12 months.
After the address by Miss Roberts Dr. T. S. Cochrane was instituted as new president of the Council.
A Lay Preacher
Miss Roberts based her address on a text from Genesis— "‘Per-adventure ten shall be found there,’ and the Lord said. ‘I will not destroy it for ten's sake.’" She had chosen that text because at the outset one could see from the Old Testament the importance to civilisation of a small minority of righteous men. Had those ten righteous men been found they could have saved the cities from destruction.
It was not the last time that the future of cities and the world depended on a few men. It occurred again in the New Testament, when it was not ten men, but twelve. Had there not been those twelve the Christian faith would never have been propagated.
In their own life-time it depended on the few men of the Battle of Britain to save civilisation from immediate doom.
To-day, with all the trouble and tribulation in the world, the future of the world depended on the few men and women who were Christians and who were willing to practise and propagate that faith abroad.
The Church's influence during the past years had been far wider than was apparent to most people, and to-day it was far wider than many would believe.
It had given to all life a standard of values from which no person should consciously try to deviate—a standard which was above all else, above all political parties, and which was, in fact, a code of principles based on man's purpose in the world and his relationship with God.
Considering how they could present a united front to the outside world, she said small things divided them, but the whole time these must be seen in perspective against the really big things which did unite them. However irritating the small things became at times they must see them in relation to the big things, and then they would find they faded into insignificance and they would be able to present a united front to those people outside their bounds.
They should take their ideals and their creed into all other organisations outside the Church, into national and local government. When one knew a person was a Christian one could expect a decent standard of behaviour from them. For Christians to stay out of that side of life was to let non-practising Christians in, and that would be quite wrong.
In thanking all who had worked with him on the council, Mr. Fairhurst said that as Free Churches they had drawn closer together during the last twelve months.
Introducing the new president, he said he had always thought how fortunate that town was to have so great a company of Christian doctors. He was glad they could invite one of them to be president.
Mr. Fairhurst then handed Dr. Cochrane the presidential Bible.
Dr. Cochrane paid tribute to Mr. Fairhurst who, he said, had carried out his duties magnificently. Unfortunately they were not only losing him as president but losing him shortly from Dartford.
A united choir sang "Worthy is the Lamb" ("Messiah"). The Rev. J. Dunlop Gebbie and the Rev. O. J. Searchfield offered prayer, and the Rev. Leonard F. Webb gave a Scripture reading.