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... 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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Modern Church is 120!

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


Conference 2011


Can These Bones Live? Reading the Bible Today

Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th July 2011 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Prof Adrian Thatcher
Secretary: Revd John Goldsmith
Chaplain: Revd Justin Dodd

In the year of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, this conference will focus on reading the Bible now in new and inspiring ways. It will explore how Christians are to be positive, faithful readers of the scriptures today. Further information

Papers from the conference were published in the January and April 2012 editions of Modern Believing.

Speakers (with audio recordings where available)

a thatcher3
Adrian Thatcher
After the Authorised Version: Reading the Bible 400 years on
Adrian Thatcher is Visiting Professor in Theology at the University of Exeter. He is author of The Savage Text: The Use and Abuse of the Bible (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).
Talk: pdf Full text

c rowland
Christopher Rowland
William Blake and the King James Version of the Bible
Christopher Rowland is Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford.   The latest of his many books is Blake and the Bible (Yale University Press, 2011).
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (53 mins)

s cornwall2
Susannah Cornwall
Contextual Bible study: A case study with homeless and vulnerably-housed people
Dr Susannah Cornwall is Honorary Research Fellow in Theology at the University of Exeter. Her new book Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ (Equinox) was published in December 2010.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (58 mins)

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Francesca Stavrakopoulou
God's Ex-Wife: What Price Monotheism?
Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou  is Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Bible at the University of Exeter.  Her most recent book is Land of Our Fathers: The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims (T & T Clark, 2010). She is presenter of the BBC TV documentary series The Bible's Buried Secrets.

j barton
John Barton
The new atheism: Reflections of a Biblical scholar
Revd Professor John Barton is Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford. His latest book is The Bible, The Basics (Routledge, 2010).
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (44 mins)

g loughlin
Gerard Loughlin
The Bible and film
Gerard Loughlin is Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Durham. He is the author of Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology (Blackwell, 2004).
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (93 mins)

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Maggi Dawn
The Bible, culture and the arts
Revd Dr Maggi Dawn is Chaplain and Fellow in Theology at Robinson College, Cambridge. She is the author of    The Writing on the Wall: High Art, Popular Culture and the Bible (Hodder & Stoughton, 2010).
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (78 mins)

a milbank
Alison Milbank
Apocalyptic readings: the Bible and the novel
Alison Milbank is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham, specializing in Literature and Theology. Her well known book Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians (T & T Clark) was re-printed in 2009.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (56 mins)

Conference 2010

Shifting Paradigms: Theology & Economics in the 21st Century

Tuesday 13th to Friday 16th July 2010 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Revd Canon Edmund Newell
Secretary: Revd Canon David Driscoll
Chaplain: Revd Frances Eccleston

Politicians and economists have called for a 'paradigm shift' in response to the credit crunch. The unprecedented circumstances of the current global recession provide a unique opportunity for dialogue between theology, ethics and economics as we appraise economic life today. This conference is a contribution to that discussion.

Conference photos: Joan Dorrell
Papers from the conference were published in the Jan 2011 edition of Modern Believing.

Speakers (with audio recordings)

e newell
Edmund Newell
Shifting paradigms
Revd Canon Edmund Newell is Sub-Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, formerly Research Fellow in Economic History at Nuffield College Oxford.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (35 mins)

t leunig2
Tim Leunig
Understanding the financial crisis
Dr Tim Leunig teaches at the London School of Economics. He has advised government, parliament and all three of Britain's main political parties. As well as the current financial crisis, his areas of expertise include pensions, transport, and housing.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (32 mins)

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Guy Treweek
Wealth Creation? The ethics of making money
Guy Treweek is Assistant Curate of St Peter, Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith. Before ordination he worked in the City as a fund manager.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (55 mins)

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Philip Goodchild
A Christian theology of money
Philip Goodchild is Professor of Religious Studies and Head of the Department  Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (62 mins)

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Catherine Cowley
Usury in the 21st century: interfaith discussion
Catherine Cowley, Associate Director of the Heythrop Institute, with Peter Oppenheimer, Student (Fellow) of Christ Church Oxford and President of the Oxford Centre of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and Tarek El Diwany, Editor of Islamic Finance.
Panel discussion: audio Listen / download mp3 (93 mins)

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Malcolm Brown
Local responses to economic downturns
Revd Dr Malcolm Brown is Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (58 mins)

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Michael Northcott
Sustainable development & the credit crunch
Michael Northcott is Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh. He is an ordained Anglican Priest, a trustee of the Fair Trade organisation Traidcraft, Honorary Canon of Liverpool Cathedral and Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (63 mins)

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Valpy Fitzgerald
Implications of the credit crunch on global poverty reduction
Valpy Fitzgerald is Professor of International Development at Oxford University. He is Roman Catholic with interest from a faith perspective.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (45 mins)

j atherton
John Atherton
Theology & political economy in the 21st century
Revd Dr John Atherton is Senior Research Fellow at the William Temple Foundation and former Canon Theologian at Manchester Cathedral.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (57 mins)

Conference 2009

Perfect Freedom: Liberal Faith Today and Tomorrow

Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th July 2009 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee
Secretary: Pat Boyd
Chaplain: Ven Jane Sinclair assisted by Rosemary Field

The conference considered liberal faith from several perspectives:

  • How is it related to liberty, to liberality?
  • Is religious freedom an oxymoron?
  • What of the authority of Scripture?
  • How liberal can a theology be?
  • Does the church need liberating for tomorrow?
Conference photos: Joan Dorrell

Papers from the conference were published in the Jan 2010 edition of Modern Believing.

Speakers (with audio recordings)

g rowell2
Geoffrey Rowell
For what we have received...
Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe. He is the author of several books including Hell and the Victorians and a biography of John Keble. From a traditionalist perspective, Bishop Rowell will challenge the conference on key issues.
Talk:  audio Listen / download mp3 (54 mins)

k ward2
Keith Ward
Liberalism in science and religion
Keith Ward is a philosopher and theologian, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University Emeritus, and an ordained priest in the Church of England.
Talk:  audio Listen / download mp3 (55 mins)

b smith
Brian Smith
Liberating the Church for today and tomorrow
Rt Revd Brian Smith is the Bishop of Edinburgh. He studied theology in Cambridge, focusing on the philosophy of religion, and held a number of posts in the Diocese of Oxford, including that of Senior Tutor at Ripon College Cuddesdon.
Talk:  audio Listen / download mp3 (56 mins)

ha hartley2
Helen-Ann Hartley
Liberating Scripture: holding on to fundamentals without being fundamentalist
Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley is New Testament Tutor at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. She also acts as a consultant  to BBC television in development of programme ideas in Religion and Ethics.
Talk:  audio Listen / download mp3 (51 mins)

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Gary Dorrien
The crisis and necessity of liberal theology
Gary Dorrien is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, Professor of Religion at Columbia University, and an Episcopal priest. His trilogy The Making of American Liberal Theology has been described as the definitive work in the field.
Talk:  audio Listen / download mp3 (61 mins)

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Lucy Winkett
Liberalism: theological and economic
Lucy Winkett is Precentor and Canon of St Paul's Cathedral with responsibility for music and liturgy at the Cathedral. She is a founder adviser to Theos, a think tank launched in 2006.
Talk:  audio Listen / download mp3 (44 mins)

j clatworthy
Jonathan Clatworthy
Liberal theology - to bring peace or a sword?
Jonathan Clatworthy is General Secretary of the Modern Churchpeople's Union. He has worked as a parish priest, university chaplain and lecturer in Ethics. His latest book is Liberal Faith in a Divided Church.
Talk: audio Listen / download mp3 (40 mins)

Conference 2008

Saving the soul of Anglicanism: the nature and future of the Anglican Communion

Tuesday 8th to Friday 11th July 2008 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan
Secretary: Revd Jean Mayland
Chaplain: Revd Sarah Lamming

We share the anxiety of many in the Anglican Communion about its future. MCU is committed to a Church which is open, inclusive and welcoming to all. This conference will consider:

  • the nature of Anglicanism, in the UK and overseas
  • what Anglicanism has been in the past and is now
  • Anglicanism from a critical and Free Church point of view
  • the role of the Communion in the world today
  • the proposed Covenant and its implications.
Conference photos: Joan Dorrell

Papers from the conference were published in several editions of Modern Believing from October 2008.

Speakers (with text where available)

b morgan2  
Barry Morgan
R. S. Thomas' Religious Poetry. Questions not answers:  A way forward for the Anglican Communion?
Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan is Archbishop of Wales and an MCU Vice President.
Talk: pdf Full text

 c methuen  
Charlotte Methuen
'In the which the pure Word of God is preached and the Sacraments be duly administered': The ecclesiology of the Church of England in the context of the European Reformation.
Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen is Lecturer in Church History at the University of Oxford  and Canon Theologian of the Diocese of Gloucester.

 m jackson  
Michael Jackson
Anglicanism, blessing or curse - the Irish experience.
Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson is Bishop of Clogher, Church of Ireland.
Talk: pdf Full text

 t mwamba3  
Trevor Mwamba
A holy mess and the grace of ambiguity.
Rt Revd Musonda Trevor Mwamba is Bishop of Botswana and Dean of the Province of Central Africa.
Talk: pdf Full text

 f griswold2  
Frank Griswold
The Episcopal Church and the future of the Anglican Communion.
Most Revd Frank T Griswold is former Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

 mm adams4
Marilyn McCord Adams
The proposed Anglican Covenant and its implications for the Communion.
Revd Dr Marilyn McCord Adams is Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and Canon of Christ Church.
Talk: pdf Full text

 j wootton  
Janet Wootton
A dissenter's view of Anglicanism and Establishment.
Rev Dr Janet Wootton is Director of Studies for the  Congregational Federation. Until the end of 2003, she was minister of Union Chapel, Islington,  an inner city church with an active homelessness project and a varied music programme.
Talk: pdf Full text

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Gene Robinson
My story and my hopes for the future.
Rt Revd V Gene Robinson is Bishop of New Hampshire.

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Andrew Brown
A journalist's view of Anglicanism.
Andrew Brown is an English writer and journalist. His interests cover biology,  religion, and technology - especially where they overlap.  Recent articles in The Guardian.
Talk: pdf Full text

Conference 2007

Violence: A Stubborn Pandemic

Tuesday 10th to Friday 13th July 2007 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Rt Revd John Austin, Assistant Bishop of Leicester (For personal reasons, Bishop John had to step down as Chair)
Secretary: Revd Dr Alan Race
Chaplain: Revd Canon Angela Weaver

Violence has always been with us. It features in many of the world's stories and religious myths of origins. Pervasive in human experience, men and women of intelligence  and goodwill both justify it and recoil from it. Many individuals derive their thrill of life from it.  Spiritual visionaries propose pathways for overcoming it, yet the religions themselves can often seem  part of the problem. In the twenty-first century religious antagonisms are once again being blamed  for the world's desperate pandemic of violence. Where do the roots of violence lie and can there be hope  in the face of it? The conference will explore violence in four clusters:

  • a study of the roots of violence in the human psyche and relationships
  • the international and ecological scene
  • the ambivalence of religious and theological responses to violence in text and tradition
  • conflict resolution, reconciliation and how to hope

The conference will both acknowledge the impression of violence as an abiding factor  in the human condition and also seek to offer hope in the face of its complexities.


 g mursell
Gordon Mursell
The Psalms and Violence - what kind of God?
Rt Revd Dr Gordon Mursell is Area Bishop of Stafford and specialist in the history and theology of Christian Spirituality.

 d rowe  
Dorothy Rowe
Enemies and Friends
Dr Dorothy Rowe is a psychologist and author.  Her latest book is Finding Your Way Out of the Prison of Depression.

 p rogers  
Paul Rogers
Current trends in international relations affecting war and peace
Dr Paul Rodgers is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. He currently focuses on trends in international conflict, developing an analysis of the linkages between socio-economic divisions, environmental constraints and international insecurity.

 a billings  
Alan Billings
The Ethics of Pacifism and Just War in an Age of Terrorist Violence
Canon Dr Alan Billings is vicar of St George, Kendal. He's also director of the Centre of Ethics and Religion  at the University of Lancaster.
in conversation with
Tony Kempster
Dr Tony Kempster is General Secretary of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and Chair of the Movement for the Abolition of War.

 m juergensmeyer  
Mark Juergensmeyer
Violence and the Religions - an Overview
Professor Mark Juergensmeyer is Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies  and Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He is an expert on religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics,  and has published more than two hundred articles and a dozen books.

d elalami
Dawoud El-Alami
The Israel-Palestine Conflict
Professor Dawoud El-Alami is Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Lampeter, University of Wales.
in conversation with
Dan Cohn-Sherbok
Professor of Jewish Theology and Director of the Centre for the Study of the World's Religions, Lampeter, University of Wales.

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Giles Fraser
Theological Perspectives on Violence
Revd Dr Giles Fraser has been Team Rector of Putney Parish Team since 2000. He has lectured in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford since 1998.

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Derick Wilson
Conflict Resolution in a violent world
Dr Derick Wilson is Assistant Director of the UNESCO Centre at the University of Ulster and Director of the  Future Ways Programme. He has been active in the areas of youth work, community relations, community development and reconciliation work in Northern Ireland since 1965.  He was awarded the MBE for services to community relations. He is a council member of the Corrymeela Community of Reconciliation and a Commissioner for the Equality Commission NI from 2003.