Passion for Justice: Global and Faithful Perspectives on Human Sexuality
Tuesday 11th to Friday 14th July 2006 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Organized in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality and the Student Christian Movement.
Chair: Elaine Graham
"The Church and sexuality form a rich and heady mix for journalists and media commentators. But despite the very real troubles and debates going on in the churches at the moment, and the seriousness of much that is at stake, much of the press coverage looks predictable and one-dimensional."
Conference photos: Joan Dorrell
Speakers (with text)
Global and faithful perspectives on human sexuality
Elaine Graham is Samuel Ferguson Professor of Social & Pastoral Theology, University of Manchester.
"Inspired by Josephine Butler, maybe the day would come when the headlines would not be about the Church's timidity and discomfort about sexuality, but about its passion for justice instead!"
Talk: Full text
The Bible - air balloon or millstone?
Trevor Dennis is Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral.
"Some years ago in Salisbury Cathedral I heard a lecture by David Jenkins. I shall always remember how he began. He thumped the lectern and cried: 'We have made God into a thug!'.
Talk: Full text
Marilyn McCord Adams
A shameless defense of a liberal church
Revd Canon Marilyn McCord Adams is Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford University.
"In Europe and North America, in social and legal change relating to gender and sexual mores, our Church has been a follower rather than a leader.
Now the comprehensive Broad Church is being replaced: by new definitions of the Church, and new, narrower conceptions of its polity.
The Liberal vision of a less stringent polity is grounded in fundamental convictions about God and humanity, not least: God is very, very big and we are very, very small."
Talk: Full text
Justice for children too!
Adrian Thatcher is Professorial Research fellow in Theology, University of Exeter.
"Children are sadly neglected in theology, and in the ecclesial polemics about sexuality, yet in the teaching of Jesus they are centre-stage.
I wanted to show how children have been marginalised amidst ecclesial incivilities, to inquire why, and to return them to any discussion of the 'meanings' of sexuality."
Talk: Full text
Beyond Individualism: the ecology of sex and sexuality
Martin Prendergast is Executive Secretary of Catholics for AIDS Prevention & Support (CAPS), and a founder member of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement.
"June 2006 marked the 25th anniversary of the first diagnoses of HIV - the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus. The idea of an ecology of sexuality offers a framework to grasp the issues: 'a change in any part of one of the tangled banks of life we call eco-systems can have broad and often unexpected implications for any living thing seeking to survive within them.'"
Talk: Full text
Religion and Science: old enemies or new friends?
Conference held Tuesday 12th-Friday 15th July 2005 at High Leigh Conference Centre.
Chair: Rt Revd Richard Harries
Secretary: Revd Nicholas Henderson
Chaplain: Revd Dr Helen Orchard
The 19th Century controversies between religion and science, precipitated by Darwin's theories and other scientific developments, have left a visible scar on the religious world to this day.
The rise of neo biblical fundamentalism in our own time and the sometimes startling developments in the scientific world associated with a range of disciplines seem to have halted the healing process.
But is this really the case? Theological thinking and Biblical criticism has come a long way since the time of the Victorians. Surely these old battles are to be consigned to history and the Church is now liberated to pursue the Gospel hand in hand with every modern tool available?
This conference ranged widely in its investigation into present religious and scientific understandings. Apart from the speakers there were also workshops on issues of the day.
- Rt Revd Richard Harries
Bishop of Oxford.
- Professor Keith Ward
Former Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford.
- Revd Dr John Polkinhorne
Author and priest.
- Dr Fleur Fisher
Former Chair of the BMA Ethics Committee.
- Professor Aziz Sheikh
UMIST, Chair of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Research and Documentation Committee and a medical professor at Edinburgh University.
- Professor John Brooke
Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, Harris Manchester College, Oxford.
- Revd Professor Paul Badham
Studied 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 was 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).
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.
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.
Reader in Sociology at Exeter University and author of Believing without Belonging and Europe: the Exceptional Case.
Board of Social Responsibility, author of Urban Christianity and Global Order.
Member of the United Reformed Church. Author of Radical Religion and the English Civil War, editor of Radical Christian Writings.
Author of Civil Society, Civil Religion and God and Modernity.
Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham.
Former co-ordinator of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.
Principal of the East Anglican Ministerial Training Course.
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
Studied 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.