A Wigan church leader is hoping to combine preaching with politics after announcing he is trying to become a Conservative councillor.
Bishop Steven Evans, who heads the Living Faith Church now worshipping in the former Orrell URC building, is bidding to complete a clean sweep of the Orrell ward’s three seats in the chamber for the blue rosette next month.
Bishop Steven says for him standing for an election is another way of serving the community alongside his spiritual duties and stresses he is standing on local issues rather than national party policy.
He is well aware of the old saying politics and religion do not mix and to some extent will be keeping to that, saying there is no chance of him bringing politics into the pulpit on Sunday morning.
Bishop Steven said: “I’m serving local people as a minister and this seems like a natural progression to me.
“It’s not about party politics at a local level, it’s about serving the community. It’s very down to earth.
“We’re looking to protect the green spaces and green belt against inappropriate housing developments, get the local roads fixed and sort out a fair deal for the residents of Orrell and Billinge.
“We also want to work with the police on anti-social behaviour and crime, and have started on that already with the council’s help.
“If you look back through history churches like the Methodists have been heavily involved in politics, but I’m quite determined to keep the church activities at arm’s length from anything I might be doing as a councillor.
“I’m quite keen to separate the two because I’m sure we will have different political parties supported in the congregation and I wouldn’t want to alienate anyone.”
Bishop Steven says he has supported the Conservative Party for some time and backs its views on a society based around lower taxation and smaller government but will not be engaging voters on the election trail with his opinions on the party’s stance over controversial national issues such as Brexit.
He said: “I think people have lost interest in party politics in general.
“People want to know specifically what you are going to do to help them and how voting for you is going to improve their lives.
“You get people interested in politics when you talk about specific, practical things that are real to them.”
If Bishop Steven is elected the Conservatives will hold all three Orrell seats, with leader of the opposition Coun Michael Winstanley and former mayor Coun Richard Clayton already representing the ward in the chamber.
The local elections will take place on May 2.
Other people standing in the Orrell ward are: Orrell: Denise Capstick (Lib Dem), Donald McQueen (Green), Stephen Murphy (Lab)