The leader of Birmingham City Council has spoken of how he intends to use his Christian faith and the backing of other religions to create a more inclusive society.
Mike Whitby said different faiths should work together to help boost the voluntary sector and lift from the local authority the burden of solving Birmingham's social problems.
Delivering the Chamberlain Civil Renewal Lecture, Coun Whitby explained how his brand of Conservatism had been shaped.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: "I was baptised as an Anglican and most of my formative years I spent in Methodism - a nonconformist, energetic and vibrant faith which impressed me.
"I volunteered to go to Koln, in West Germany, to work with other faiths to help heal the wounds of people who had been victimised and tortured and sometimes had lost their whole families.
"And it taught me a lesson. Underpinning my belief structure was the sanctity of life and a code that said do unto others what you would have done to you. I found that whilst I felt Anglican, enjoyed Methodism and worked within a Catholic area, the message of kindred ship and goodwill transcended the denominational interpretation of my faith. Underpinning it is the question, do we care about each other?" He said faith had given him a code of conduct by which he tried to live his life, adding: "It gives me a profound belief in the equal value of all human beings and the need to create a more inclusive society.
"And it is because of this that I am a believer in meritocracy. It is because of this I believe in social mobility.
"Kith or kin should not ordain how your life moves. Society should be so free with opportunity that wherever you aspire to go there are no obstacles in your path."
He urged the council to embrace the faith communities "because they have so much to give."
Coun Whitby added: " Birmingham has a wonderful tradition of active faith organisations and most importantly of ecumencial, positive inter-faith working and it is essential that this tremendous resource is applied to solving the problems of our city.
"The Conservative Party has always had a great tradition of support for voluntary and charitable action and it needs now to express itself in its philosophy and engage again."