Faith- sufficient for each day!

Matt Baggot CBE, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland was the guest at our ‘In Conversation With …” on Tuesday 19 April 2011. Unfortunately it was not possible to record this event, but the following are some notes from the evening.

Dr Noel McCune, Chairman of Contemporary Christianity, welcomed the Chief Constable who expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to engage in a… ” Conversation about What Really Matters”
Mr Baggott opened by emphasising the privilege it is to serve the PSNI and the importance of offering Servant Leadership and sound public relations for the PSNI. As Chief Constable he is very proud of his people, who walk towards danger- not away from it, embrace policing for the good of all the community and  promote equality. He said that promoting equality involves these elements:- “Don’t be afraid of who you are”; Respect difference; Respect each others’ heritage ;in all this the Lord Jesus is Real.
He focused on 3 main themes in his conversation with us:

1. Personal.

Policing, when not deeply personal cannot be effective. He emphasised the need to build trusting and respected relationships – with and through God, and in and through policing. Progress and strength come through people and trusting relationships, not through technology and techniques.
He quoted St. John chapter 21 – the miracle of the large catch of fish – Peter sees Jesus, puts on his coat and jumps out off the boat – not rational, therefore all the more believable!. The Disciples don’t know how to cope with the enormity of a resurrected Jesus, so they go count the fish! Their counting the fish (153) – is a bloke thing.  Jesus however asks “Do you love me?” Both deeply personal and deeply caring.

There is a tendency (even within the Christian church) to replace the Personal God with busyness and rituals.  He has known God  challenge him personally at times to live a better balanced life. “God loves you to have that balance”
God loves a simple heart. and integrity and He needs space and time in quiet with us, so we can let Him sort out the stuff that needs to be sorted.

2. Practical.

He is concerned to see transformation of communities. God wants the church to be practical, demonstrating acts of kindness and to be people of prayer.  Where the police can have volunteers and others to work with on practical matters there is hope for transformation. “Redeeming Our Communities” is an organisation that he is encouraging both England and here. He also encourages schemes like “Street Pastors”  where people of faith get involved at street level and have an Urban theology.

3. Purposeful

People coming together at this time for a purpose. “You are being refined for something else”. He outlined his sense of call to NI for this time; how he was partially prepared through an earlier visit, and through the input of a friend about him going to work in Northern Ireland.
Quoting from Isaiah 58v12  be a… “Repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings” and from – James  be… “Peacemakers, who sow in peace, reap a harvest of righteousness” he encouraged his audience to be  repairers,restorers and peacemakers in these challenging times.
His talk was deeply appreciated by the group of over 60 people and was followed by a series of questions which were answered with characteristic clarity, good humour and challenge for all those listening. We are most grateful to the Chief Constable for his helpful input and providing useful insights as to how we can  better support the PSNI in these days. The evening closed with a short time of prayer for the PSNI and for Mr Baggott.

Several of the  audience on the evening have offered their comments on our …In Conversation with…   Mr Baggott:

“I expected the evening to be interesting and informative, but came away personally encouraged and refreshed by how Matt Baggott applies his personal faith in a very public role.  He does this not just in terms of his personal values and lifestyle , but by applying Kingdom values to the issue of policing. This was a very good example of faith being relevant in the public sphere.”

“He epitomised servant leadership in his answer to the question about how he coped with the pressures of his job when he emphasised that the pressures on him are no greater than those on the front-line police officer going out to answer a call at night.”

“It was a stimulating and challenging evening and Mr Baggott really enabled a useful conversation.  I left feeling that we are  so fortunate to have  him as the PSNI Chief Constable at this time.  When I see a police car I will think differently about the PSNI in light of what we heard  and try to pray for them in  doing their work.”