When you take upwards of two hundred Leeds Christians, put them in one big room and then ask them to talk about the things that most matter to them and their city the odds are that you’ll end up with at least that number of different suggestions. And that I suspect was one of the problems that the organisers of Connect 2013 faced when they were planning their event: their solution, simple, let their guests set their own agenda.
I have to say this worked perfectly. First individuals were invited to write down and read out a question or a topic for discussion, the authors were then allocated a space and the rest were left to pick which of the eighteen or so subjects areas we most wanted to join.
With issues ranging from how churches should respond to climate change to what it means to say God loves Leeds, two forty minute discussion sessions drew out some amazing thoughts and ideas.
Prior to the debate staff and volunteers from some of Leeds’ foremost charities, including the Leeds and Moortown Furniture Store, were able to spend precious face to face time with visitors explaining – perhaps for the first time the full depth, breadth and merits of their particular enterprise.
However, those who organised the event can not only be well pleased with the way that they once again provided a platform on which these inequalities and injustices could be aired, but also satisfied in the knowledge that by inviting visitors to set their own agenda the issues discussed weren’t a random selection of theoretical case-studies but real life, warts and all scenarios that highlighted the enormous challenges that both the city and the people of Leeds face.