Finding the Sacred in the 21st Century: New Ways of Looking at Spirituality


Nic Tall
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High Leigh Conference Centre

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Jul 15 - 17 2024


All Day

Finding the Sacred in the 21st Century: New Ways of Looking at Spirituality

Finding the Sacred in the 21st Century: New Ways of
Looking at Spirituality

15-17 July 2024

Conference Chair: Prof John Drane

Conference Chaplain: Revd Lorraine Cavanagh

We live in a world where the ‘old ways’ of being religious (inherited from Christendom and western culture more generally) work only for an ever-shrinking minority of people. For the majority, they are no longer engaging, comprehensible or attractive.

Yet there is an explosion of spirituality and spiritual practices all around us, if we know where to look. As Christians, we often don’t, and fail to apprehend or attend to the fertile opportunities to engage with and understand ‘alternative’ manifestations of meaning-making, God-talk and embodied spiritual practices that are at play in our world. What can we learn if we open ourselves to dialogue with those outside religion; paying attention to what they are doing to connect with deep life themes traditionally interpreted through faith? And what can we offer back from our own Christian traditions? What do we make of it? How do we feel about it? How does it challenge us? How can we distinguish healthy spiritualities from toxic ones? Can we create a shared language and common ground?


Monday  Tuesday Wednesday
9.30 Session 4: Case Study 

The dynamics and dangers of popular spirituality (Anne & John)

Session 8: Keynote: Anne Richards
11.00 BREAK
11.30 Session 5: Keynote: Diana Greenfield 

‘Navigating the New Age’ 

Session 9: Conclusion


14.00 Introductions

Ice Breakers

Different landscapes (nature/

digital) against which spiritual practices take place: 

  • Tamara Colchester, ‘Plant Listening’
  • Facilitator for Labyrinth/mini-pilgrimage exercise?
  • Outdoor prayer stations
  • Self-guided Crystals/Mandala installation
Modern Church AGM
14.30 Session 1: Keynote: John Drane

Overview of theme


16.00 BREAK
16.30 – 18.00 Session 2: 1st Panel

Neoliberalism and pop culture

  • Dilraj Kaur
  • Elaine Graham
  • Charlotte Naylor-Davis
Session 6: 2nd Panel 

Spirituality of Social Justice

  • Nudrat Hopper
  • Jide Macaulay
  • Neil Whitehouse
19.30 Session 3: Popular Culture, Spirituality and the Media (John and Anne) 

Holy Island/New Forest/ASMR

Participants’ experiences

Session 7: 3rd Panel

Fresh Expressions and Pioneering

  • Liz Slade 
  • Jonny Baker
  • Yin An Chen
21.00 Night Prayer/Compline

Christ Pantocrator?

Night Prayer/Compline

Modern Church Conference 2024: Booking Details

High Leigh Conference Centre, Lord Street, Hoddesdon, Herts, EN11 8SG
( is comfortable, well-equipped, and easily accessible by car and public transport. All rooms are en suite with a shower or bath and tea/coffee making facilities in the room; they have single, twin or double beds.

Conference fees:
Full residence in an en suite room per person: £265
Modern Church member’s discount: £25
A non-refundable deposit of £40 will secure a place; full payment is requested by 31 May 2024. However, payment in full with your booking would save time for you and for us. If you have to cancel within 4 weeks of the conference, we may need to retain the full booking fee if we cannot re-allocate your room.

Reduced fees:
A reduction in fees may be available for those on very low incomes. Please contact the Modern Church Administrator for an application form.

If you have any queries, or would like a paper booking form sent to you through the post, please contact Nic Tall, Modern Church Administrator at

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