2018 Annual Conference of Modern Church

Ritual, Worship & Culture

Monday 16th to Wednesday 18th July 2018

at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Herts

Listen to Conference Chair Jo Spreadbury
introducing the 2018 conference at our 2017 conference.


Chair: Revd Canon Dr Jo Spreadbury

Chaplain: Revd Ian Mobsby


Speakers (subject to change):


Is there a basic instinct to worship?

Church attendance is declining, but more and more people express an interest in what is spiritual. Everywhere we see evidence of people needing to ritualise their allegiance to something greater than themselves, whether in celebrity culture, politics or group identity. Enthusiasm (en-theos) appears to be one of the most important drivers of human happiness and fulfilment.

We all have our rituals, whether private and domestic, or public and shared. The Christian faith does not endorse this uncritically: ‘thou shalt have none other gods before me’ is scored into Christian memory. Yet Christians too have produced many different kinds of worship and ritual, reflecting the churches’ engagement with different cultures and contexts.

In this conference, with its timely and relevant theme, we will explore new age rituals and traditional practices alike. What can we learn from the secular instinct to ritualise and memorialise? Which forms of ritual are shared and which are distinct between different approaches to faith and different cultural contexts? Can there ever be truly ‘common worship’ or should we rejoice in the variety of expressions across all cultures and incarnations that can never be controlled fully by ecclesiastical prescription?

With workshops and discussion groups, as well as plenary sessions and keynote addresses, this conference will enable us all to reflect on the habits and traditions we hold dear in our own faith practice, and gain some new insights into the common, if not universal, instinct for worship that we share with others.