CHURCHGOERS in York took to the polls last month — not to elect an MP but to identify the most pressing areas of concern in the community.
St Oswald’s, Fulford, opened a polling station at the church gate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a week to find out which community issues were most in need of prayer.
Of seven choices, loneliness came top. Road safety (including pollution) came second, and connections within the community, third. The other options were: isolation, young people, church and community, and poverty. The seven areas were identified from a community survey commissioned by the church earlier this year.
About 350 people voted over the five days, and others who did not vote stopped to chat, the Vicar of Fulford and Rural Dean of the City of York, the Revd Terence McDonough, said. The voting booths were loaned by the City of York Council.
“Our folk who volunteered really enjoyed and surprised themselves. We had some good conversations,” he said. “Three or four people who have just moved into the parish said that they are going to start coming to church, and one who asked to know more about Jesus has already joined one of our home groups.”
The Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, also joined the voters. It was a “great idea”, he said, “which was well received by locals, who happily filled in the form and took the prayer leaflet. It showed a listening church in action.”
The poll was conducted by the church as part of the initiative Thy Kingdom Come: the global call to prayer that runs from Ascension Day to the feast of Pentecost. Voters were offered a prayer leaflet after casting their vote, and the voting slips were collected at the end of each day to be used to conduct evening prayers.
The results were published on the church noticeboard at the end of the week, and are to help to “set the agenda” in meetings with other stakeholders in the community.