by Adrian Thatcher
from Modern Believing Vol 54:1

This edition of Modern Believing carries some of the presentations  to the annual conference of Modern Church, entitled 'Women in Religious Leadership', last July.

We had expected the conference to coincide with the vote of the General Synod  regarding women bishops, and were hoping for celebration instead of further procrastination  in the face of determined opposition. Our theme, however, lost none of its topicality.

The conference was packed with lectures and presentations, not all of which  could have found room in our conference edition. The selection of articles and their arrangement are the result of my consultation with the conference Chair, the Revd. Dr. Harriet Harris. We decided to strike a balance between what might be called  'scholarship' and 'testimony', while realising there is much in common between them.  This decision led to the shape of the volume - three articles about the theology of women's leadership, and three accounts of the practice of it, by women who already bear its burden. One of these articles, ironically, has had to be held over just because that burden has not permitted the time or space to write it. The quality of the theological articles (and of course their authors) is certain to attract new readers to the journal either through the print version or on-line through the ATLA database. The quiet intensity of the testimonies speaks loudly of the achievements of women in ministry. One of the testimonies is from someone who is not only a woman in ministry, but also a Muslim, and an imam. As these practitioners share their thoughts and experiences with us, readers will be pondering the many similarities between the two patriarchal backgrounds out of which the testimonials come.

Edition 54.2, Still Honest to God (April 2013) will be an outstanding collection of essays celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of that (in)famous work, and developing the themes of each of the chapters. Extra demand for this edition is expected.

2013 is the first full year of the Modern Believing essay competition. Entrants have until the end of the year to write an essay on the theme of the 2014 Modern Church conference, which is on the broad theme of Exploring Spirituality.  The rules governing entries are on our website. If you know of anyone under 35 who has original or exciting things to say about the theme, please encourage them to write for us.

Finally, for a second, consecutive time, our Books Received can be found on our website.


Adrian Thatcher is Visiting Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter.