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Public Leadership Public leaders are voices for God in our communities. They step up and speak out for the good of all.

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These are the stories of four men and women who are leaders in our society, who are speaking out where it matters. Their actions show what can be changed. Their stories give hope and inspiration for what could be achieved as more people become public leaders. Before entering parliament, Fiona Bruce was known for her leadership skills in business. She won business woman of the year for building her own firm of solicitors from scratch and growing this until it employed 30 staff. Fiona also served on Warrington Borough council, including three years in charge of the council’s finances. In 2005 Fiona unsuccessfully stood as parliamentary candidate for Warrington and established a wide variety of social action projects which involved young men from a local Young Offenders Institution in community work. She also founded a homeless support project and an advice centre to provide practical help for those experiencing relationship difficulties, legal problems, debt, and drug addiction. In parliament, Fiona regularly speaks on international religious freedom and is particularly interested in the plight of those in North Korea. She also has close links with a school in Tanzania and led a team of business advisers to Rwanda to help build the capacity of businesses to trade and create jobs.

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When he’s not at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Liverpool, the Reverend Allan Finnegan can be found preaching to a less conventional audience as a stand up comedian. He took a course at a local comedy trust some years ago, and not only learnt to cut the waffle from his preaching and add a pinch of humour to his homilies, but also discovered a gift for stand up comedy. Allan’s now regularly doing comedy gigs across the north-west and weaving material about his day job into his routine. Allan has even persuaded other Baptist ministers in the area to follow his lead and take the comedy training course that got him going. His unusual double act also attracted attention from the local press, with the Liverpool Echo featuring him and his funny turn in a double page spread. He is a regular on BBC Merseyside and has spoken at a comedy festival about religion and comedy.

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In 2001 Lloyd Cooke heard that his home town of Stoke had been awarded the unenviable title of ‘worst place to live in the country’. Rather than turning to despair, this proved to be the catalyst needed for him to act. Lloyd led Christians in the town to build links with the local authority and other statutory services. Every quarter, church leaders and other faith leaders met with representatives to discuss the big issues facing the town and how they could tackle them. As a result, there is now no divide between the Church and secular society in Stoke, no areas that are not the churches’ concern, and no areas off limits. Instead there are people who want to bring lasting change, and who know that this is most likely to happen if they work together. “Ancient wisdom,” Lloyd says, “reminds us of the following promise: ‘Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings’ (Isaiah 58:12)”. By unifying his local groups, Lloyd has been able to speak up for good in his town.

Stella Mbubaegbu CBE is passionate about leading and being a voice for good to provide education for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity. In 2001, Stella, who attends Christ Central Portsmouth, became the first black female principal of a further education institution and since then has led Highbury – which has more than 16,000 students – to become an exemplar in the sector and judged outstanding by Ofsted. Through her leadership at Highbury, which is now winning international contracts such as securing a £75 million contract to run a women-only vocational training centre in Saudi Arabia, she is leading in other areas. Her pioneering and entreprenurial spirit has given her a voice and a seat at other places within her city, nationally and globally, including the Black Leadership Initiative, the Institute of Directors and the Royal Society of Arts. She is also WorldSkills UK champion for the south-east region, chair of the Gazelle Colleges’ Group and a member of the Business Leaders Group of Shaping Portsmouth.

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The Rev Nims Obunge OBE is pastor of Freedom Ark church in Tottenham, but his ministry is just as much about the community that doesn’t attend his services as those who do. Nims has developed credability to speak with both understanding and authority. He is involved closely with the Metropolitan Police and London’s criminal justive system as well as working daily with families and victims of violent crime. When the riots began in Tottenham in 2011, Nims played a key role in mediating, speaking to the media and relating to community groups heavily affected by the disorder. He became the go-to person for a community looking for leadership.

Public leaders are ordinary people who God is inspiring. They are people like you; committed to being a voice for good. If you will want to do the same, to take action and become a public leader, we want to help you. Interested? Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But… (1 Cor 1:26)

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Public leadership  

Public leaders are voices for God in our communities. They step up and speak out for the good of all.

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