More... Annual Conference 2019    

Annual Conference 2019

Theology in the public square - Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th July 2019 at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Herts.

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

More... New head of contemporary spirituality    

New head of contemporary spirituality

NEW Managing Editor of Modern Church's quarterly liberal theology journal Modern Believing announced as Coordinator of Centre for Contemporary Spirituality…


Editorial: Call and response

by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 72 - Jan 2019

It is a great delight for me to lead this edition with an article by a new contributor, responding to her experience of Forest Church at our Annual Conference last summer.

We need more like this! And she says that, when the article appeared in her parish magazine, she had many favourable comments; that may not translate into new members of Modern Church, but it certainly extends our influence, in this case in a parish where she feels often to be a lone ‘liberal’ voice. And so our call to the Church to open its heart and mind, and the varied responses of those who hear it, continues. As it did at Greenbelt, where our General Secretary reported to Trustees that our enhanced profile made a real impact amongst the huge numbers who attended (see also his post on our website at the end of September, Modern Church, Greenbelt and Pussy Riot).

Read more ...

A foray into Forest Church

by Janet Carpenter
from Signs of the Times No. 72 - Jan 2019

For the past four years I have attended the Modern Church annual conference, which takes place over three days at High Leigh Christian Conference Centre at Hoddesden, Hertfordshire.

High Leigh is a very attractive venue, standing in 40 acres of beautiful parkland. It was once the home of committed Christian William Barclay (of Barclays Bank), but became a conference centre after his death in 1921.

The theme of the 2018 conference was Ritual, Worship and Culture – more than 100 Modern Church members and visitors attended, with approximately equal numbers of ordained and lay people. In addition to the usual excellent speakers there were a number of workshops, of which we could choose two. I had no hesitation in making my first choice: ‘Forest Church’, which turned out to be a highlight of my stay at High Leigh.

Read more ...

What can we learn from early Christians?

by Jonathan Clatworthy
from Signs of the Times No. 72 - Jan 2019

When Christianity began it was not what it is today. We could learn a lot from it.

So argued Frances Young in the Archbishop Blanch Lecture at Liverpool Hope University on 17th October. Frances is a scholar of early Christianity and a Methodist minister.

She described what it seemed like to outsiders in the Roman Empire. The Latin word christiani implied membership of a political faction. They were often called a ‘third race’, neither Jewish nor Greek. In some ways they seemed like a mystery cult - with their initiations, talk of life after death, and rules about purity and ethics. In other ways they were like a philosophical school, because they taught the kinds of things philosophers taught in those days: who created us, how the world works, how to live well. They were most like a philosophical school, with the one big difference that anyone could join.

Read more ...

A refreshed Grand Narrative for the West: challenging the need for a specifically secular state - Part 3 of 3

by Brenda Watson
from Signs of the Times No. 72 - Jan 2019

In these articles I am exposing serious flaws pervasive in thinking today.

The first flaw concerns the prioritising of historically-driven subsidiary values, such as freedom of speech, over the truly foundational values of concern for truth, fairness and compassion. The second flaw is the incipient scientism which creates a fact/opinion divide discouraging serious rational debate of what cannot claim scientific/empirical evidence. Religion is clearly on the wrong side of such a divide. Belief in God lacks presumed objective proof, and so relies on subjective faith, effectively making religion just a private matter. Thus, the third flaw consists of trying to exclude religion from public debate and decision-making.

Read more ...

Review - Alan Everett, After the fire: Finding words for Grenfell

by Geoff Miller
from Signs of the Times No. 72 - Jan 2019

To be brutally honest, Everett’s short book would not have been one that I would likely have purchased coming across it on a bookshop shelf.

Not because I would think it was unimportant or offer a valuable contribution. Rather, I confess to thinking more probably that it was too early to be written, or too focussed on a cruel event well off my limits, or perhaps its contents too gruesome to meditate upon.

How wrong could I be?

Read more ...