Still Carrying the Torch
For almost 40 years, CARE has been a voice for truth to bring a uniquely Christian insight to policies and laws that affect our lives. We believe in a better story for our society and culture, where every human life, from conception to natural end, is respected and upheld.
‘Lyndon, in the 1960s whilst Christians were asleep, lights went out in this House that may never be relit again.’ This was what Lady Toni Lothian whispered to my husband as they stood in Parliament’ s Central Lobby to witness Mr Speaker George Thomas’ ceremonial procession into the Commons chamber one winter’ s day back in 1982. She was referring to the raft of liberal legislation that had gone through Parliament on abortion, family, life, sexual morality, witchcraft and obscenity. These ‘prophetic’ words changed our lives and resulted in the setting up of CARE where we still work.
Toni, who sadly died in 2007 aged 82, was an extraordinary woman – always dramatically dressed in black, red and white, with jet black dyed hair and an eyepatch (following cancer surgery.) She was a devout Roman Catholic, left leaning, ardently feminist, passionately pro-life Marchioness! We’ d first met a few years before and she involved me in a weekly prayer meeting in the House of Lords with a handful of delightful, if elderly, Peers until pregnancy stopped me. Praise God that within Westminster much prayer continues today with several groups regularly interceding on matters of importance.
2021 marks 50 years since 25 September 1971, when tens of thousands of Christians came together for the single largest open-air Christian gathering in British history in London’ s Trafalgar Square. I was there waving a banner! This Nationwide Festival of Light (NFoL) was a rallying call for God’ s truth in the face of rising secularisation and new permissive laws. It was the beginning of the work of CARE.
The evening before, Lyndon marched up Caerphilly Mountain with Christians from local churches carrying blazing torches and singing hymns. They lit a bonfire, one of scores of beacons shining out to warn of an invasion of ungodly influences. Lyndon went on to serve the NFoL committee set up afterwards which in 1983 was renamed CARE.
Standing for grace and truth
If we were concerned about the loss of Christian influence then, now we see secularisation steadily driving faith further from the public square. On the face of it things are worsening but there are signs of change! Only time will tell what effects Covid-19 will have. God can overrule foolish human wisdom in His justice and mercy and as Christians have prayed, laboured to uphold righteousness, care for the vulnerable and preach the gospel He’ s watched over us and strengthened our faith and hope. A new generation of young people is rising to carry the torch and speak on behalf of the voiceless of God’ s timeless standards of justice, grace and truth. So whilst we cherish past memories our hearts can be filled with hope for the future.
If you have any memories of the NFoL, please write to me at CARE, 53, Romney Street SW1P 3RF or send an email to 50Years@care.org.uk.
Celia Bowring is the Prayer Coordinator for CARE.