Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 45 - Apr 2012

The main event in Modern Church's life over the past few weeks has been the residential Council meeting at Hinsley Hall in Leeds.

The Council draws together the Trustees with our distinguished President  and Vice-Presidents and the rest of the 'electoral college' from which  the Trustees are drawn. Thus, it assists the Trustees in taking into account  the wisdom of a wide range of our members.

It is a tribute to this relative innovation of an annual residential meeting that the overwhelming majority of Council members, including the President and three Vice-Presidents, gave up 24 hours of their time to discuss the issues facing Modern Church. Two themes dominated. First, how to improve the quality and circulation of our learned journal Modern Believing; and, second, how to make our conferences, the other flagship of our activities, even more attractive.

A concern which emerged under both headings was the need to involve ordinands and other theological students more fully; and it appears likely that, in future, more free places at conferences will be offered to these (probably with older conference-goers being invited to contribute to bursaries) and also that some prizes might be offered for student essays published in Modern Believing. All this in order to build bridges with the academic world, not least the world of ordination training, and especially its younger representatives, who must be an important part of the future of Modern Church.

You will be hearing more on all this. In the meantime, what can you do? Christine Alker's articles in this edition suggest two things. Also, it is a pity that some Modern Church members opt out of taking Modern Believing which really is one of the most important things we do. This may be for financial reasons - or is it sometimes  because they feel that too much academic reading would be rather a challenge? Our policy has always been to make and keep the journal accessible to non-academic readers without losing its rigour, and in this respect Adrian Thatcher, the new editor, certainly has no intention of falling behind his predecessor Paul Badham. If anyone would like to 'opt back in'  to receiving the journal, a simple e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is all that is needed.

Alongside all of this, we continue to try to respond to events in a changing Church. Jean Mayland's article below reminds us that the Anglican Covenant, and the questions it raises, remains one of our preoccupations and will continue to be so until General Synod votes in the summer. We wrestle too alongside all those who struggle to believe authentically, and the little debate below on Creeds, and the article by Jonathan, are examples of that.

And the time is getting nearer for our Annual Conference, an innovative look at issues of gender and leadership; if you have not already booked, do look at the details on our website - places are still available!


Anthony Woollard is editor of Signs of the Times. He taught Theology at William Temple College  before entering the Civil Service where he spent most of his career in the the Department of Education.