I’ve just uploaded revised versions of the two application forms, which contain a couple of tweaks, and have been generated as online forms to allow you to fill in details before printing. As before the regular form can be found here with the group version here.
We are now in a position to confirm more details of our second annual conference to be held on Saturday 6th June, in the beautifully refurbished Sheldonian Theatre.
The two confirmed speakers will be Canon Professor Keith Ward, formerly of Oxford University, speaking about Why the Scientific World View Confirms Liberal Christian Faith, and Canon Professor Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, speaking about Why Liberal Churches are Growing.
Costs will be £25 per person as previously published, but with a discount to £17.50 for full time students and ordinands. We will also be offering a group discount for groups of five or more.
Complete details can be found on the Oxford Conference 2009 page, and a revised application form can be downloaded from here. For group bookings please use this form instead. Update: The forms have now been updated to allow them to be filled in online before printing.
Early booking is advised, as places are expected to be booked quickly.
To go along with the previously published PDF of Mark Chapman’s lecture, a PDF of the lecture given at the inaugural conference by Canon Professor Keith Ward, Why the Future Belongs to Liberal Faith can now be downloaded.
Both lectures have also been permanently linked on the side panel of the site so that they will always be easily accessible, along with a couple of additional links to All Saints Wokingham, and the Anglican Spirit blog. If you have a relevant site and would like us to link from here, please drop us a line through the Contact Us page.
In an ideal world, the lectures from the Affirming Liberalism conference in February would have been uploaded before now, but I hope you will consider this to be a pleasant late spring surprise! A PDF of Mark Chapman’s lecture can be downloaded here and Keith Ward’s will be uploaded in due course. I do hope you find them useful as we take forward their important ideas into our own situations.
Thank you to everyone who offered their thoughts and suggestions for the future. I have been able to act on some of these thus far.
Certainly another conference was requested, and after some deliberation, it has been decided to make this an annual (rather than biannual) event for now. As Mark Chapman said on the subject, ‘once organisations get too structured they frequently become self-absorbed and inward looking which is quite the reverse of Saturday.’
Therefore a date for your diary is Saturday 6th June 2009. This time we have opted for the magnificent and larger venue of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, just opposite Trinity College. By then this beautiful Sir Christopher Wren auditorium, which amongst other things is the setting for Oxford University graduation ceremonies, will have been fully refurbished and will be a most splendid setting for a major day conference. Some speakers are already booked, but there will be more details to follow.
There were also several requests for some teaching material, in the form of a DVD. This is being seriously considered and should it go ahead, it will be pitched at the level of a seekers course for those wanting to find a way into Christian faith in contemporary society. You may also like to know that the Modern Churchpeople’s Union is happy to promote some material about Affirming Liberalism on its stand at the Lambeth Conference.
I am aware that there were a good number of individuals who were offering their time and talents to forward a more liberal Christian agenda in the Oxford Diocese and beyond, and I was wondering if people would be interested in meeting up for a convivial working lunch in Oxford later on in the summer/autumn where we could pool ideas and make some further progress? Please use the “Contact Us” link above if you would like to participate and we will fix a date.
Thank you once again for all your interest and support as we seek to move forward.
We had a wonderful day yesterday in Oxford at the inaugural conference of Affirming Liberalism. The sun shone brilliantly on the gorgeous setting of Trinity College Oxford; where the grounds were already lit up with the spring flowers sparkling in the grassy verges of the paths and quads.
We heard heartfelt expressions of appreciation that such a network had been convened,giving space and acknowledgement to the needs of liberal Christians in the Church of England. And we heard too some cries from the heart from people who feel marginalised and excluded by the certainties and self-imposed limitations of local churches too fearful to let their liberals and progressive friends say what they think and feel about their faith.
This sense of appreciation and need was expressed for me in the wonderful atmosphere and singing at midday worship in the college chapel, which was crowded to capacity by the 137 delegates present.
Mark Chapman’s lecture was a profound and thoughtful historical reflection on the nineteenth century roots of liberal thinking in the English Church, teasing out what liberalism might be seen as and what it might not be seen as. For Chapman liberalism is not a party of the Church separate from others but an attitude of mind which might inform catholic and evangelical Christians alike. Nonetheless it is an attitude which has to be grown as Christians mature and he sees St Paul’s call to the Corinthians to put away childish things as a key liberal text. He raised the concern that liberalism itself alone does not have the spiritual power and vitality to be the animating power of faith. Needless to say this was questioned by some! Clearly there were in the audience those who feel strongly that the future of Christian faith has to be in rethinking Christianity in a way which catches the imnagination of contemporary minds and hearts and that this will be done best and perhaps necessarily exclusively by re-presenting it in ways deeply informed by liberal freedom from attachment to the churches’ former historic expressions in liturgy, doctrine and ethic.
Keith Ward gave a free-flowing and scintillating presentation of seven key liberal values or principles and a call for the Church at all levels to embrace the inherently liberal character of genuine gospel Christianity as he sees it. Clearly for Keith there is no way that liberal Christianity lacks dynamism or spiritual vitality. I heard him saying that liberal principles in fact are the hidden and motivating spiritual power of the faith! And just as churches are not always as faithful to the gospel as we might be because we are human and fallible so also churches are not always as keen to pursue or even as ready to pursue the liberal principles partkly because they include the hard vocation of understanding difficult and complex issues and arriving at the humility to know what we don’t know and to say so. But even so his exasperation with the contemporary English Church is it unwillingness to recognise that there is a need for some people to do this harder work and to support them and appreciate them in it. Keith again is happy to recite the Creed and the liturgies of the Church as they stand whilst interpreting them metaphorically – and yet at the same time he recognises that these traditions of the Church and forms of expression are not binding on future generations. This raises the question – that being so – if they are repellent or that the very least offputtting to the rising generation of Christians then how much energy and resource should churches be putting into retaining them?
A Church of England Network Supporting Liberal Christians in the Oxford Diocese…and Beyond.
‘Building bridges not barriers’
Inaugural Day Conference
Saturday 9th February 2008
Trinity College, Oxford
“Why the Future Belongs to Liberal Religion.”
Revd Canon Prof Keith Ward,
Professor of Divinity, Gresham College)
“Honest to God”: Reclaiming Liberal Christianity
Revd Dr Mark Chapman,
(Vice-Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon)
£25 including lunch in College Hall
£20 for full time students
Enquiries and booking to Rev Dr Richard Warden
Booking form can be downloaded from here.
Travel information by car can be found at:
Maps of Trinity College can be found at: