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.

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More... New editor for Modern Believing journal    

New editor for Modern Believing journal

Modern Church appoints Dr Karen O' Donnell as the new managing editor of our academic journal Modern Believing

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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

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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

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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

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More... Reclaiming evangelism: Positive liberal theologies of mission    

Reclaiming evangelism: Positive liberal theologies of mission

Modern Church sponsored day conference Saturday 2nd February 2019 9.30am-4pm, Liverpool.

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Signs of the Times 2004


No. 12 - Jan 2004

Editorial: The pleasures of Hell
Jonathan Clatworthy
Servetus and Colenso: valiant for truth
John Bunyan
What makes a vital liberal congregation?
Martin Camroux
Blessed are those who recognise that they may not always be right
Richard Lewis


No. 13 - Apr 2004

Re-enacting gay marriage
Roger Burg
The threat of the headscarf
Anne Davison
'Reading' cohabitation
Duncan Dormor


No. 14 - Jul 2004

The future of the Anglican Communion
David L Edwards
Was it worth the hype? - On Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ
Kevin Kelly
For me the angels sing
David Taylor


No. 15 - Oct 2004

'42' tribunals?
Paul Brett
A cause for shame?
Mark Rees

A cause for shame?

by Mark Rees
from Signs of the Times No. 15 - Oct 2004

"Don't worry, I'll sort out the congregation," the vicar assured me.

It was 1971 and having lived as a very unhappy gender-dysphoric female for the first twenty-eight years of my life, I was beginning to undergo medical treatment to enable me to live as a male. The university I attended was very supportive, but going home in my new role was a challenge. A little apprehensively, I went to church.

"Hello, Mark."

The vicar had obviously 'sorted out' the congregation. Everyone greeted me as if they had always known me as a man. During the years since I have always been treated with equal acceptance and received much support from church people.

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'42' tribunals?

by Paul Brett
from Signs of the Times No. 15 - Oct 2004

The recent General Synod debate on the Clergy Discipline (Doctrine) report was a curious affair.

The Press greeted it with dramatic headlines, exciting everyone with the prospect of 'heresy trials'. Were bishops to be burnt at the stake, and bonfires made of forbidden books? Well, no, of course not!

The background is important. Back in 1996 a Synod report called Under Authority had examined the inadequacies of the 1963 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure and proposed a new system of offences, procedures and penalties for clergy who were accused of professional misconduct. The subsequent Measure came into force in 2000. Early in the discussion it had been agreed that questions about 'doctrine, ritual and ceremonial' should be considered separately, and a second group, chaired by Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, looked into the matter and produced their report shortly before the Synod debate on 10 July 2004 in York.

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For me the angels sing

by David Taylor,
from Signs of the Times No. 14 - Jul 2004
[Reply to The pleasures of Hell by Jonathan Clatworthy, Jan 2004]

Mr Clatworthy has drawn us an intriguing picture of hell, but there is one point on which I feel he has misled us.

"Like much of classic Christianity, the doctrine of hell is widely attributed to the Bible, but in fact dates from a later era." I don't think we can really criticize those who insist on a Biblical basis for the doctrine of hell; though on the other hand, the better sort of Christian - readers of Signs of the Times? - will be reassured to learn that it can probably be detached from the teaching of Jesus himself.

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Was it worth the hype? A reflection on Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ

by Kevin Kelly
from Signs of the Times No. 14 - Jul 2004

I was not only unmoved by the film, but I actually felt it was very unhelpful in terms of helping me encounter Christ.

All the emphasis was on the violent suffering inflicted upon Christ and on the terrible inhumanity of those who beat and scourged him. It almost gave the impression that what was 'divine' about Jesus was his ability to absorb a superhuman amount of pain and suffering.

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