More... Modern Church is 120!    

Modern Church is 120!

Modern Church is celebrating 120 years with a social media campaign recording key moments in its history

More... Modern Church, Greenbelt & Pussy Riot    

Modern Church, Greenbelt & Pussy Riot

Modern Church General Secretary Jonathan Draper reflects on our partnership with this year's festival and sponsorship of three acts

More... Our annual conference - A student's perspective    

Our annual conference - A student's perspective

Trainee Methodist Pioneer Minister Dave Shaw thanks delegates who donated to enable student volunteers to attend this year


Conference 2004

The God Experience... who has it and why?

Joint conference held Tuesday 13th-Friday 16th July 2004 at High Leigh Conference Centre with the Alister Hardy Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience.
Chair: Professor Paul Badham
Secretary: Revd John Goldsmith

Wishful thinking? Hallucinations? Real contact with a divine Other?

Despite the claim of unbelievers  that religion is on the way out, convincing religious experiences are reported by large numbers of people  who think they have a relationship with the divine.

Are these stories credible? Do they fit the doctrines of the churches, or do they challenge them?

This conference explored what we can learn from the stories of religious experience today.


  • Dr Sarah Jane Boss PhD (Bristol)
    Lecturer in Christian Theology  at the University of Wales Lampeter, and Director of the Centre for Marian Studies.  The CMS is an interdisciplinary education and resource centre for all matters relating to the Virgin Mary.  Its teaching can include any relevant academic discipline, such as theology, the history of art,  church history, literary studies, psychology and anthropology.  Sarah Boss has degrees in Sociology and Theology. She is vice-president  of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain, and has previously held pastoral  as well as educational posts. She has had three books published on Marian topics:  Empress and Handmaid (2000); Mary in the Continuum series "New Century Theology", (2004);  and a children's book, Mary's Story (1999).

  • Dr Marion Bowman
    Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies  at the Open University, having moved there in 2000 from Bath Spa University College  where she had been Programme Director for the MA in Contemporary Religion. She is currently  President of The Folklore Society. Her research interests include vernacular religion,  contemporary spirituality, Celtic spirituality, healing and pilgrimage, and she has conducted  a long term ethnological study of Glastonbury. In 2000 she co-edited  Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality (Edinburgh University Press)  with Steve Sutcliffe.

  • Professor June Boyce-Tillman BA, PhD, LRAM
    Read music at St.Hugh's College, Oxford and was Professor of Applied Music  at King Alfred's, Winchester and Visiting Professor at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, USA.  She is a composer and active in community music making, specialising in music and spirituality.  She is Chair of the Hildegard Network and has spoken widely on Hildegard. Her most recent books are:  Constructing Musical Healing - The Wounds that Sing (2000) and  The Creative Spirit - Hildegard of Bingen (2000).  She is Chair of the Alister Hardy Research Committee.

  • Dr Wendy Dossett BA, PhD, PGCE (Wales)
    Lecturer in Religious Studies  at the University of Wales Lampeter, where she directed the MA Pathways in the World's Religions for Teachers,  and Religious Experience. She is Principal Examiner for the AS/A2 specifications  in Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism for the Welsh joint Education Committee. She has a particular interest  in Japanese Pure land Buddhism and was currently researching this subject at the Graduate Theological Union,  Berkeley under Professor Richard K Payne. Her publications include Buddhism for AS Students (2003),  and Speaking for the Buddha: phenomenological and confessional approaches in teaching Buddhism Journal of Beliefs and Values (1996). She is a member of the Shap Working Party  for World Religions in Education, and is an Associate Director  of the Religious Experience Research Centre (University of Wales Lampeter).

  • Dr Mark Fox
    Lecturer in Philosophy and Religious Studies  at the Joseph Chamberlain College in Birmingham. His major research interest is in the area of  Religious Experience, the subject of his Doctoral Thesis. He is a member of the Research Committee  of the Religious Experience Research Centre and his publications include  Religion, Spirituality and the Near-Death Experience (2003) and his most recent work  Lightforms, which draws extensively on the RERC archives and examines  unusual experiences of light was due for publication shortly.

  • Leslie Francis
    Professor of Practical Theology  at University of Wales, Bangor and Director of the Welsh National Centre for Religious Education.  He is an Anglican priest and Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He holds doctorates  from the University of Cambridge (PhD, ScD) and the University of Oxford (DD). His recent books included  The Values Debate (2001), Psychological Perspectives on Prayer (2001),  Exploring Luke's Gospel (2001), Exploring Mark's Gospel (2002),  Children, Churches and Christian Learning (2002), Rural Mission (2002),  His Spirit is With Us (2003), and The Naked Parish Priest (2003).

  • Xinzhong Yao
    Professor of Chinese Religions at the University of Wales Lampeter. He has a PhD in Philosophy from the People's University Beijing and a PhD in Theology from Wales. He was formerly Deputy Director of the Institute of Ethics  in Beijing and is currently a Visiting professor at two Chinese Universities. Most recently  together with Professor Badham he gained a grant of £335,000 from the John Templeton Foundation  for a comparative study of religious experiencing in China and Britain. His publications include  Christianity and Confucianism, a comparative study of Jen and Agape (1996) and a two volume  Encyclopedia of Confucianism (2003).

  • Dr Cafer S Yaran
    Senior lecturer in the Faculty of Theology,  Istanbul University. He was awarded his BA and MA by the University of Ataturk, Erzurum, Turkey  and his PhD by the University of Wales, Lampeter. His particular interest is in the philosophy of religion  and has published in English Islamic Thought on the Existence of God: Contributions and Contrasts  with Contemporary Western Philosophy of Religion (2003) and has written, contributed to and edited  a number of other books in Turkish on the Philosophy of Religion.

Conference 2003

Globalising God - the new internationalism

Conference held Tuesday 15th-Friday 18th July 2003 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Canon John Atherton
Secretary: Dr Simon Taylor
Chaplain: Revd Robin Dodge

What is the Good News for a world in the throes of globalisation? Where is God in a world of poverty, terrorism and consumerism?

In the twenty-first century have we finally become one world, or are  the divisions and inequalities greater than ever?

There are many challenges facing our world, and this conference aimed to bring them into contact with resources from Christianity and other faiths as we seek to live in a world where greater unity seems to come only at the cost of greater division.


  • Tom Wright
    Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey.  A New Testament scholar and prolific author of books  including The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God,  and the ... for Everyone series.

  • Duncan Forrester
    Professor Emeritus of Theology and Public Issues  at Edinburgh University and author of On Human Worth and Christian Justice and Human Policy.

  • Grace Davie
    Reader in Sociology at Exeter University  and author of Believing without Belonging and Europe: the Exceptional Case.

  • Andrew Davey
    Board of Social Responsibility, author of  Urban Christianity and Global Order.

  • Andrew Bradstock
    Member of the United Reformed Church.  Author of Radical Religion and the English Civil War, editor of Radical Christian Writings.

  • Andrew Shanks
    Author of Civil Society, Civil Religion and God and Modernity.

  • Philip Goodchild
    Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham.

  • Wendy Tyndale
    Former co-ordinator  of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.

  • Malcolm Brown
    Principal of the East Anglican Ministerial Training Course.

Conference 2002

By Whose Authority?

Conference held Tuesday 16th - Friday 19th July 2002 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Rt Revd David Conner
Secretary: Revd Canon Richard Truss
Chaplain: Revd Ruth Tuschling

The conference explored the concept of authority in Church and society at the beginning of a new century.

Traditional areas of biblical authority were examined together with more recent issues such as gender  and the relationship between the secular world and the Church.

This is an age of intense focus on presentation and obsessed with communication. It is also a time when we may realistically expect an imminent change of leaders within the churches as well as in  the political world.

This conference was for anyone concerned with the future direction of the Church and its relationship with society.


  • Revd Professor Paul Badham
    tudied theology at the Universities of Oxford,  Cambridge and Birmingham. For five years he was a Curate in Birmingham before moving to University of Wales Lampeter in 1973. He is currently Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre and a Vice President of the Modern Churchpeople's Union. He authored the centenary volume The Contemporary Challenge of Modernist Theology (1998).

  •  Revd Hugh Dawes
    Vicar of St Faith's North Dulwich,  member of the Committee of the Centre for Progressive Christianity, former director  of the Forum Christian Institute, Cambridge and author of Freeing the Faith.

  • Very Revd Dr David Edwards
    Former Dean of Norwich and Provost of Southwark.

  •  Very Revd Vivienne Faull,
    Dean of Leicester Cathedral.

  • Revd Canon Anthony Harvey
    Former lecturer in Theology  at the University of Oxford and laterly Canon and Sub-Dean of Westminster.  He is a Fellow of the George Bell Institute and author of many books.

  • Simon Hughes
    MP for Southwark & Bermondsey,  was unable to attend the 2002 conference. His place was taken by Lord Richard Newby.

  • Genista McIntosh
    Former Executive Director  of the Royal National Theatre & Principal-designate of Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She is a member of the House of Lords.

  • Jane Shaw
    Revd Dr Jane Shaw, Dean of Divinity, Chaplain and Fellow of New College, Oxford.

  • Revd Dr Kenneth Wilson
    Senior Research Fellow and former Director  at Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education and a Methodist Minister.

Past conferences

Ritual, Worship and Culture
Jo Spreadbury
God: None, One, Three or Many?
Jane Shaw / Linda Woodhead
Performing the Faith: Shakespeare, the Theatre and Theology Today
Alison Milbank
Seeking the Sacred: Christianity in dialogue with other religions and the world
Alan Race
A Liberating Spirit? Exploring Spirituality for the 21st Century
Martyn Percy
The Earth is the Lord's: Renewing the covenant of creation
Margaret Barker
By whose authority? An interfaith look at women and religious authority
Harriet Harris
'Can These Bones Live?' - Reading the Bible today
Adrian Thatcher
Shifting paradigms: Theology & economics in the 21st century
Edmund Newell
Perfect freedom: Liberal theology today & tomorrow
John Saxbee
Saving the soul of Anglicanism: The nature and future of the Anglican Communion
Barry Morgan
Violence: A stubborn pandemic
Alan Race
Passion for justice: Global and faithful perspectives on sexuality
Elaine Graham
Religion and science: Old enemies or new friends?
Richard Harries
The God experience: Who has it and why?
Paul Badham
Globalising God: the new internationalism
John Atherton
By whose authority?
David Conner
A Road to Nowhere? History, Purpose and Providence
Maurice Wiles
Jesus for the Third Millennium
Richard Holloway
Christianity and Poverty in the 21st Century
Michael Taylor
Thinking the Unthinkable
John Saxbee
Spirit and Spirituality, or 'Finding the Gap'
Michael Hare Duke
Survival of the Fittest?
Simon Hughes
Created and Creative: Art as a Contemporary Way of Spirituality
George Pattison
Theology and Church Action in Europe Today
Anthony Dyson
Faith Outside the Faiths
Tom Butler
Christianity and Eastern Faiths: Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism
John Hick
New Horizons for Religious Education
Brian Gates
Three Faiths - One God: Christianity, Judaism and Islam
John Hick
The State of the Ark
Jenny Baker
Is Liberal Theology Dead?
John Bowden
Nature, Humanity and God: The Present Scientific Perspective
Arthur Peacocke
Fundamentalism: Towards an Understanding
Stephen Platten
Handling Life: Clues to Understanding and Caring
Gordon Dunstan
The Church and Politics
John Elford
Belief in God: A Faith for Today
Edward Carpenter
Technology and Human Values
Edgar Boyes
Womanhood and Christianity
Diana McClatchey
Non-western Theologies and their Significance for the English Church
Liberal Christianity in Practice
Edward Compton
Germany and England: Prospects for a Theological Common Market
Stephen Sykes
Whither? A Study of the Shape of the Future
Norman Pittenger
Integrity in the Religious Quest
A C Adcock
Church and Society
R S O Stevens
Religions and the Future of Religion
Marcus Braybrooke
Scientific and Christian Humanism
F E Compton
Search for Meaning
H C Snape
Freedom and Responsibility: Man's Dilemma in a World of Change and   (R)evolution
Malcolm Goldsmith
Nature, Man and God
Edward Carpenter
The Liberal Tradition in Christianity
Alan Stephenson
Power Within a Christian Context
Edward Carpenter
The Meaning of Christ for Today
Norman Pittenger
Honest Religion
J D Pearce-Higgins
Christianity in Education Today
Denys Whiteley
Symbols for the Sixties
A L Dunstan
Religion in a Scientific World
John Drewett
The Church in our Contemporary World
H C Snape
Christ and Human Need
W G Fallows
Jesus Christ: His World and Ours
W H C Frend
Life and Death
Christianity: a Faith for the World
The Sacred and the Secular
J L Wilson
Present Trends in English Religion
Man: His Nature and Destiny
Christian Living in Modern Society
Henry Self
Liberal Christianity in the Twentieth Century
Christianity Today: Challenge and Response
Henry Self
The Church: Past, Present and Future
Henry Self
Towards Christian Reformation: Reassessment and Restatement
Henry Self
The Flight from Reason
Henry Self
The Necessity for a Christian Modernism
Henry Self
Problems of Christian Faith and Practice
Henry Self
The Historic Jesus and His Gospel
Cyril Norwood
The Religion the World Needs
no conference
The National Church and the National Life
Cyril Norwood
no conference
no conference
The Church Looks Forward (prepared but never held)
A Comprehensive Church
Cyril Norwood
Modern Christian Education
Cyril Norwood
Christianity and the Religious Crisis
W R Matthews
What to Believe
W R Matthews
The Church of England: Its Constitution, Character and Call
W R Matthews
The Bible and the Modern Man
W R Inge
The Christian Church and the Modern World
W R Inge
The Reformation
W R Inge
W R Inge
Problems of Personal Life
Dean of St Paul's
The Problem of Authority
Christianity and History
Dean of St Paul's
The Modern Movement in the English Church
Sacraments: Their Psychology and History
The Faith of a Modern Churchman
Dean of St Paul's
The Scientific Approach to Religion
Christ and Human Society
Christianity As The World Religion
Percy Gardner
Christ and the Creeds
The Relation between Modern Knowledge and Traditional Christianity
The Ideals of Modern Churchmen
The Psychology of Religious Experience
The Church and Modern Churchman
 Hastings Rashdall
F J Foakes-Jackson
F J Foakes-Jackson