Recent Blogs

Eckhart on Contemplation or “Loving God Mindlessly” – Matthew Fox , August 12, 2020

Eckhart on Contemplation or “Loving God Mindlessly” – Matthew Fox , August 12, 2020

“quit flapping your gums about God.” Rather, learn to speak from “the inner wealth of silence…

Eckhart admonishes us to “quit flapping your gums about God.” Rather, learn to speak from “the inner wealth of silence….Be silent and let God work and let God speak.” The Word or true Christ is born in us through silence. “There is no question that the proper way to hear the word is in a stillness and a silence.”

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Sheffield Cathedral- choirs and controversies

Sheffield Cathedral- choirs and controversies

So where do cathedrals more generally sit from a progressive Christianity viewpoint?

As a former honorary canon of Sheffield cathedral and living just twenty minutes from the city centre, I might have been expected to have had my ears more attuned to what was happening at the cathedral but the news of the disbanding of the cathedral choir and the anticipated changes came as a complete surprise. The ensuing protests by parents of choristers, former musicians and others managed to make headline news in the mainstream media and no doubt caused many a sleepless night for the Dean, Peter Bradley.

So where do cathedrals more generally sit from a progressive Christianity viewpoint?

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PCN Newsletter 31st July 2020

PCN Newsletter 31st July 2020

When replanting our garden we put herbs near the kitchen door and one of the delights has been how well visited the marjoram is by bees and butterflies. - Sarah

Made of Stories – Let us have your views!

All PCN members have been able to see our five commissioned films on the new website, where we have also housed a number of discussion questions and resources. If and when you have watched the films, it would be great to hear from you! If you are in a PCN group and have watched one of the films together on Zoom or discussed them in some other way, how did that go? You may have sent the website link to other people, possibly family or friends. I wonder what their reaction has been? If you attend a church you might have asked them to put the link to the films on the church’s website. If so what has been the reaction?

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Post covid challenge to parishes

Post covid challenge to parishes

financial fallout to parishes

​A few weeks ago in the Church Times the Revd Stephen Trott criticised the exponentially growing bureaucracy of the CofE diverting resources from parish ministry. A respondent pointed out that in the Chelmsford Diocese while plans were being made to reduce parish clergy numbers there was a simultaneous decision to increase the number of Archdeacons from 4 to 7!

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PCN Newsletter 17th July 2020

PCN Newsletter 17th July 2020

This is the back cover of Issue 30 of Progressive Voices, it made me smile when I first saw it and it still does. I hope that it also strikes a chord with you.

Hopes for a post Covid 19 world

As this regular newsletter ceases at the end of July and a monthly PCN bulletin begins in September, here are the top-10 hopes for a post Covid 19 world, which members have been sending in.

1. Urgently attend to the climate change crisis and learn from what less road and air traffic and hence less pollution and carbon emissions has taught us.

2. Remember all those ‘key workers’ who care for us in so many ways – nurses, care home staff, refuse collectors, supermarket staff and so many more and ensure they are all paid a fair wage.

3. Urgently work to eliminate poverty and consider a universal basic income

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Chasing our tales – Richard Holloway review by  Piers Plowright in The Tablet

Chasing our tales – Richard Holloway review by Piers Plowright in The Tablet

“Making Meaning in a Meaningless Universe” - Holloway resigned his bishopric in 2000, declaring himself an “after religious”

Stories We Tell Ourselves RICHARD HOLLOWAY

Reading this wise, witty and provocative book, I was haunted by a poem: seventeenth-century Welsh poet and doctor Henry Vaughan’s “Vanity of Spirit”. It begins with a hermit/philosopher, “quite spent with thoughts”, deciding to leave his cell for a bit of fresh air and lie down beside a small spring of water. Here he examines the natural world to see if he can get any of the great answers. He can’t, but “having pass’d / Through all the creatures came at last / To search myself, where I did find / Traces and sounds of a strange kind”.

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is on the same journey in his latest book. Its subtitle is “Making Meaning in a Meaningless Universe”. And his path is shaped by examining the stories humans have told and tell themselves to find that meaning. Religious, mystical, scientific, psychological.

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PCN Newsletter 2nd July 2020

PCN Newsletter 2nd July 2020

Launch of our PCN films I am delighted to let all PCN members know that the five short films commissioned by PCN are now available for you to see! You can access the films by using this website address : https://madeofstories.uk

Alongside the films you will find questions for discussion which groups might want to use, alongside resources such as relevant websites and further reading to encourage you to explore the issues raised by the films in more depth.


Thanks to the generosity of PCN members, you are the first to see these films which will be promoted more widely in the coming weeks. Please feel free to let others know of the website link. We do want the films to be viewed by a wide audience! We will shortly have a page on our own PCN website where you can discuss online the films and we would value hearing from you about further resources which you think can be added. The films will also be linked to our Facebook page for those of you who use that particular social media platform for discussion and comment.

Made of Stories marks the beginning of our adventures into the film media and we hope that further films might follow. We shall also be working alongside the Student Christian Movement (SCM) in promoting the films to a young audience.

We hope the films might be shown and their content discussed by our many PCN groups. Convenors can request a discussion booklet about the stories if the group intends to use the films in its meetings on Zoom or in any other way. Contact me to request a booklet.

Finally, we are indebted to the people who volunteered to tell their story and to Shortform, the media company in Manchester, who have produced such professionally executed short films.

Adrian Alker

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A Blessing for a Meeting on Zoom

A Blessing for a Meeting on Zoom

The waving hand, our ecstatic benediction

In the place where eye contact is impossible

The silent lexicon of non-verbal cues extinct
May this not be the crowd without the wisdom
Despite our isolation, our social distance
May we give thanks for this awkward digital blessing
May we be admitted, May we not be muted
May our distorted sound and scrambled words
Finally align, May they catch up with our pixelated vision
May travelling this unfamiliar landscape
Neither lose us, nor completely exhaust us
And may our bandwidth always find room
For patience, gentleness and the peace
that bypasses misunderstanding
May every meeting open and close with a poem,
A joke or a steadying moment of silence
Some brief transfiguration in time, to remind us
Of who we were, before all this,
And who we may be again
May our agenda always be kindness,
The waving hand, our ecstatic benediction
And may there never be any other business,
For ever and ever. Amen


Martin Wroe
Sent in by Paul Haines, Come-to-Good Local Meeting (from
An Krenner Kernewek - The Cornish Friend)

Religious, but not Spiritual

Religious, but not Spiritual

The link between Autism and progressive Christianity

If I had to encapsulate my religious outlook in one sentence, I would invert the oft-cited phrase ‘spiritual, but not religious’ and instead say I am ‘religious, but not spiritual’. I have always had a deep-seated interest in religion, and I love the traditions, community and way of life which Christianity provides. Yet I have always struggled with the supernatural aspects of the faith; I could never grasp the concept of communicating with a God ‘up there’ while humans were ‘down here’. I bounced from church to church, all over the theological spectrum, hoping to finally achieve the ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ everyone else seemed to enjoy.

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The World Post Covid – Climate Change - Adrian Alker, PCN Chair

The World Post Covid – Climate Change - Adrian Alker, PCN Chair

Environmentalists around the world are warning that we cannot afford a carbon rebound

PCN members have been sharing their hopes for our world and our society after we have come through this current pandemic. I have already highlighted two issues which have been raised – the attraction of a universal basic income and the need to value much more the key workers in our country, be it in hospitals and care homes, our supermarket staff, office cleaners, refuse collectors and many others.

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PCN Newsletter 18th June 2020

PCN Newsletter 18th June 2020

The World Post Covid PCN members have been sharing their hopes for our world and our society after we have come through this current pandemic. I have already highlighted two issues which have been raised – the attraction of a universal basic income and the need to value much more the key workers in our country, be it in hospitals and care homes, our supermarket staff, office cleaners, refuse collectors and many others.

But there was another very common hope for the future and that is to treat climate change with the same urgency as tackling the coronavirus. Members have emailed about the need for sustained action, for businesses and organisations to be more environmentally focussed in their work. Working from home has reduced travel and hence car emissions. Our skies are clearer, pollution reduced. Will we, can we, learn lessons from this lockdown?


Christine and I live on one of the busiest arterial roads into Sheffield, a major bus route with polluting diesel transport emitting fumes as children go along the road to their schools. For the past three months the road has been quieter and when I go into the back garden I hear the birdsong clearer than ever before. Of course life will inevitably return to normal but hopefully this experience will have built up the pressing case for hybrid/electric vehicles, for more people getting on those bikes or even walking to work.

What can we do at PCN about the huge challenge of climate change? We can always plan our meetings at venues which can be accessed by public transport; we can work with other organisations in lobbying government, we can disseminate information about events and resources. Members of churches can be proactive at encouraging places of worship to be eco- churches. And we have produced a film, Holly’s Story about her passion for climate action, one of the five PCN films to be released in July.

There are other issues which members have raised as we seek to build a better world and in future newsletters I hope to refer to them. But do keep sending us your thoughts and hopes for a better world for us and our children and grandchildren.

Adrian Alker

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Pride, prejudice, and the global pandemic

Pride, prejudice, and the global pandemic

The Gay Elders Video Series: A Conversation with Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker

Carolyn Baker’s mission is to create islands of sanity in a sea of global chaos. This mission necessitates the development of a variety of emotional tools alongside commitment to spiritual transformation.

Through her multi-faceted outreach via webinars, podcasts, live workshops, books, and articles, as well as one-on-one life coaching, Carolyn is touching the lives of thousands to assist them in preparing for the dire consequences of the collapse of industrial civilization and abrupt climate change.
Carolyn and Andrew have co-authored three best-selling books, Return to Joy, Savage Grace, and Saving Animals from Ourselves.
Visit carolynbaker.net for more details.

www.andrewharvey.net/pride

Black Lives Matter and Progressive Christianity - Adrian Alker

Black Lives Matter and Progressive Christianity - Adrian Alker

‘progressive Christianity’ should be considered tautologous...how could a follower of Jesus Christ, not be considered to be progressive

The philosopher Julian Baggini, speaking at our PCN conference in 2019, suggested that the notion of ‘progressive Christianity’ should be considered tautologous. How could an advocate of Christianity, a follower of Jesus Christ, not be considered to be progressive, if by that term we mean the advancement of humankind be it in social, economic, health and welfare terms? It should be a no-brainer that Christians seek to work for a world in which each human being is as valued, loved, respected as every other. A world of equal opportunities, equal possibilities.

The reason why PCN exists is that the term ‘progressive Christianity’ should, yes, be tautologous but might at times seem more like an oxymoron, which is possibly the view of many philosophers, sceptics and many sections of society. For it is doubtlessly true that over the two thousand years of Christian history, much has been done and said by the Church which diminishes rather than advances the lives of human beings. As the life and teachings of the carpenter from Galilee became subsumed under the weight of the teachings of the established church, it became more questionable whether the church and its professed Christianity was a force for good or ill.

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PCN Newsletter 4th June 2020

PCN Newsletter 4th June 2020

In our eleventh newsletter Adrian gives news of our film project.

During this pandemic, especially during the time of lockdown, most of us will have watched on our TV’s or tablets more programmes, films, box sets than ever before. 98% of all households possess a television and in some homes there will be numerous i pads, lap tops and mobiles. When I was a boy in the 1950’s there was just one TV channel, in black and white, when Watch with Mother (!) meant settling down to Muffin the Mule or the Woodentops. Contrast that to today when my 5 year old grandson has two controls in his hand, one negotiating the Amazon firestick and the other scrolling through a myriad of catch-up children’s programmes.

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PCN members have told PCN Chair that we need to value all workers

PCN members have told PCN Chair that we need to value all workers

the average hourly wage for many care staff is £8.10... One in four social care workers are on zero-hours contracts

My working life as a parish priest meant that I was familiar with care and nursing homes, seeing individual residents, sharing communion services, enjoying a Christmas carol sing. But a few months ago I saw a care home in a different light – my mother at the age of 102 went into care. She is a healthy centenarian with a sound memory and a love of people and for the last six years, after giving up her own home at the age of 96 to live with us, we have looked after her needs. By last December we all decided that mum would be safer in full time care because she was too vulnerable to leave alone for any length of time- she could have fallen, there could be an unwanted visitor at the door and so on. Many readers of this newsletter will have had similar experiences in their families.

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PCN Newsletter 28th May

PCN Newsletter 28th May

In our tenth newsletter we hear from Adrian Alker about the need to value all key workers.

My working life as a parish priest meant that I was familiar with care and nursing homes, seeing individual residents, sharing communion services, enjoying a Christmas carol sing. But a few months ago I saw a care home in a different light – my mother at the age of 102 went into care. She is a healthy centenarian with a sound memory and a love of people and for the last six years, after giving up her own home at the age of 96 to live with us, we have looked after her needs. By last December we all decided that mum would be safer in full time care because she was too vulnerable to leave alone for any length of time- she could have fallen, there could be an unwanted visitor at the door and so on. Many readers of this newsletter will have had similar experiences in their families.

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PCN Newsletter 21st May

PCN Newsletter 21st May

This is the ninth is our series of lockdown newsletters

Marcus Borg Memorial Conference – Postponement to 2021

PCN members and friends will know that we had planned our fifth conference in honour of Marcus Borg to be held in Birmingham in October in association wit the Church at Carrs Lane. We had invited Revd Deshna Shine to lead our day and plans were well in hand. Deshna is the Executive Director of the Progressive Christian movement in the USA. It is now clear that it will be some considerable time before we all feel safe to attend conferences and Deshna has agreed to lead the conference in the autumn of 2021, when we do hope a vaccine will have been discovered and be universally available.

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