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David Cowling

David Cowling (Grassroots, Luton) evaluates the Assembly from the English group's point of view:

For us in England there are real problems believing that we are a part of Europe. One of the difficulties we had in persuading people to come to an event like this was that many people said: "What's the point? It is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with us." We have to overcome these difficulties and make people realize that they have much to learn from Europe and much to give to Europe. It has been very important for the group that has come from England, to experience being part of Europe in a way that they never do in England.
The second thing is, that within this group there are people who are never involved in conferences like this. They are people whose voice is not heard and not listened to. It is very important to them that they have something to say that is important, their experience is important and is being listened to. It has not been easy to find the places for them to speak, because even here the decisions are taken by the powerful, and for those who are powerless it is difficult to find a space. Still it is a step on the road for people who are excluded to feel that they have a voice.
The third thing for us is that here we are given a new understanding of our faith. In Britain the churches have declined for many years. Many young people - including my two sons - do not see the relevance of the church, even if they are concerned about God and faith. To come here and meet people who are involved in real, important issues, makes you realize that perhaps the church is not dead, that there is still life and there is still hope. This is very encouraging.