January
Seeking harmony between the world's religions

Seeking harmony between the world's religions

World Interfaith Harmony Week takes place this week. Sign the Avaaz petition and watch a new Charter for Compassion video.

Less than a month after the Paris shootings, in the very week that the carnage of Kobani has been revealed, here is an attempt to light a candle in the wind. The aim of World Interfaith harmony Week is to ask us all to think of the small step that each of us can take, in the cause of harmony, even if it is simply to acknowledge our Muslim neighbour with a smile, or ask them round for a cup of tea. This message is being effectively promoted by the Charter for Compassion and we invite you to sign their petition on Avaaz. Each one of us is a decision maker - we can decide to do nothing or do something.

Val Webb tour to be hosted by PCN groups

Val Webb tour to be hosted by PCN groups

Australian author and theologian, Dr Val Webb, makes a welcome return visit to the UK this April, with speaking engagements from Stirling to Truro.

Val's books include Like Catching Water in a Net; Stepping Out with the Sacred; and In Defence of Doubt. She first visited the UK in 2013.

This year's tour consists of ten venues across Britain, made possible through the collaboration of nine PCN groups and two progressive churches. All the hosts extend a warm welcome to anyone who would like to come and hear her speak. Refreshments will be provided. Follow the links for details of each event.

Young Irish theologian shakes up the Church

Young Irish theologian shakes up the Church

'You can't be satisfied; life is difficult; you don't know the secret. Stop selling God as the answer' says Peter Rollins

This is a press release from the Progressive Christianity Network Britain and the Student Christian Movement. Together they are hosting a conference with Peter Rollins in November 2014

The Christian habit of trying to convince non-believers that their lives would be transformed if they could only find God is off the agenda for Peter Rollins. This popular young theologian is challenging the Church to adopt a new approach to faith which transcends the usual preoccupations of Christians.

Rory J.Q. Barnes' book Do You Need God will be published on the 31st October

Rory J.Q. Barnes' book Do You Need God will be published on the 31st October

Putting the building blocks of spiritual belief into your hands. This book deals with world religious systems only as living structures of thought that people actually believe in. It is a common sense, warts and all, analysis of ideas, aimed principally at those millions who believe but do not belong, who feel there is something spiritual there but who don’t like what they think they have seen of organized religion.

‘Do You Need God?’ explores the similarities of religious and secular moral systems and the great deal which they have in common and asks whether aggressive secularists seek to divert our attention from that.

With no bias, no axe to grind, no mercy, the book tells you what you need to know about world religions and atheism, including what their followers might prefer not to talk about. The author burrows underneath conventional approaches to religion, to find the real thing, to get to see how believers see their spirituality.

www.christian-alternative.com/books/do-you-need-god

J. Phillip Newell launches his new book The Rebirthing of God

J. Phillip Newell launches his new book The Rebirthing of God

J. Philip Newell will be launching his new book The Rebirthing of God on Monday 6th October at 12.30pm at St Columba’s Church, Pont Street, London SW1X 0BD.

For many years now the Celtic poet, peacemaker and scholar Philip Newell has been writing about the sacredness of being, the of-Godness that is at the heart of our lives and all life. In this new work he asks what the world in general—and Christianity in particular—would look like if the true depths of our sacredness were to come forth in radically new ways.

Drawing on modern prophets from East and West, and using the holy island of Iona as an icon of new beginnings, this book speaks directly to the heart of Christians—those within the well-defined bounds of Christian practice and those on the disenchanted edges—as well as to the faithful and seekers of other traditions.

It offers the hope of a fresh stirring of the Spirit among us and the invitation to be part of labouring in a new holy birth of sacred living.

Bishop of Buckingham launches his new book More Perfect Union

Bishop of Buckingham launches his new book More Perfect Union

On Wednesday 15th October Alan Wilson will be appearing at Church House Bookshop in London to talk about his new book More Perfect Union. The event starts at 5.30pm and is a free event but numbers are limited so if you wish to attend please contact the bookshop in advance.

In this important and timely book Alan Wilson argues that allowing gay people to marry is a moral purpose. Wilson says: 'I asked myself "what does God want for gay people?". After re-revisiting the Bible, and more importantly getting to know gay people of all types and varying backgrounds, he decided the answer was that God wants for them the same as everyone else - flourishing faith, hope and love, involvement and inclusion. Meanwhile, from a scientific perspective, More Perfect Union? asserts that homosexuality is part of a wide range of human sexual longing and expression, not an anomaly, a sickness, not merely a lifestyle choice. The vast majority of people Wilson encountered on his journey toward being in favour of same-sex marriage were not anti-gay, were 'just trying to love their neighbour as themselves', even if, in some cases, their heads lagged behind their hearts on the issue of gay marriage. The ultimate aim of this book is to help Christians unite head and heart in a fully positive response to gay people marrying, and to enable them to wholeheartedly rejoice in such union, in doing so shaking off the hangover of years of stereotyping, fear and discrimination about gay people.

Being Honest to God - the conference talks in print

Being Honest to God - the conference talks in print

July 1st 2014 saw the publication of five talks given to the joint PCN Britain and Modern Church conference marking the 50th anniversary of John Robinson's book, Honest to God. The conference took place in November 2013 at The Hayes, Swanwick.

To purchase this book

As a serving bishop in the Church of England, John Robinson dared to ask the big questions which ordinary churchgoers may have asked themselves but which had rarely been voiced beyond the academy. Robinson asked his readers to think about their image of God and the significance of Jesus. Since 1963, this quest for the ‘real’ Jesus has continued with increasing vigour. But then what are the implications of this rethinking for the conventions of prayer and worship? And if God is to be revealed primarily in the love and compassion of Jesus as much as in the revealing of God’s self in the prescriptions of the Law, what does this say to our grasp of morality, of ethics?

Seeing Jesus Again with New Eyes

Seeing Jesus Again with New Eyes

Can Christians learn from the way others see them? At a recent PCN conference, Mark Townsend, author of Jesus Through Pagan Eyes, suggested that his progressive Christian audience could learn from the insights of the New Druidism.

A link to download the written material that Mark provided to delegates is to be found at the bottom of this article. You can hear a clip of Mark's talk and reports from the discussion groups in the Resources Audio section. There are photos of the conference for viewing too. This article first appeared in the June 2014 edition of Progressive Voices. To order a copy of Progressive Voices please contact the PCN office

Nearly 70 people gathered at the Priory Rooms in Birmingham on Saturday 17th May to hear Mark Townsend, a former Anglican priest and founder of Hedge Church, talk on the theme, Seeing Jesus Again with New Eyes.

Christianity and Feminism by Sonya Wratten

Christianity and Feminism by Sonya Wratten

A new booklet in the Together in Hope series of study guides which reflect progressive Christian thinking.

What does it mean to be a woman in 21st century Britain? Writing for people who seek to make sense of the Christian faith through contemporary thinking, Sonya Wratten explores some of the issues of feminism today and what a credible progressive Christian feminist theology might look like in light of such reflection. Her book looks briefly at the relationship Christianity has had with the development of feminism, what shape feminist theology has taken in the present time and what the progressive directions of the future might be in terms of furthering radical theology in this area. As well as using the theological sources of scripture and tradition, she draws on our personal experiences and the cultural context in which we live.
PCN mourns the death of our Honorary Adviser, Jim Cotter

PCN mourns the death of our Honorary Adviser, Jim Cotter

In this personal memoir, PCN founder, Hugh Dawes, recollects why Jim Cotter is to be admired and why PCN has lost a dear friend.

Jim Cotter died on the Wednesday of Holy Week, 16th April, peacefully at home without pain, and with friends around him. He was a remarkable man – wise, humane and gentle, but strong in his determination to struggle for an inclusive Christianity, since inclusivity was at the very heart of Jesus’s gospel.

Discussion group in central Scotland

Discussion group in central Scotland

A new PCN affiliated group has been formed based in Stirling.

​Known as Radical Pilgrims in Central Scotland, the group is convened by PCN member, Jon Cape. During Lent the new group will participate in a Lent course being run in Sterling by Camas Enterprises, an educational and consulting organisation which works with churches. The sessions, which start on Monday 10th March at 7.30, are based on Marcus Borg’s book, The Heart of Christianity. All are welcome. For further enquiries please contact Jon Cape by email or on 07577 564092 or visit the group's webpages.

Report on “Truth, Lies and the Spirit Level"

Report on “Truth, Lies and the Spirit Level"

This was a conference, held in York on Friday 31st January, which examined poverty and inequality in Britain today and revealed some of the misconceptions that are commonly held about the poor. It was organised by PCN member, Jenny Jacobs, who has written this summary of the talks given.

More than a hundred people gathered for this free day conference organised for Poverty and Homelessness Action Week. The diverse crowd included clergy of many denominations, lay people, front-line workers in homelessness, prisons and drug-abuse, local politicians, students and concerned members of the public.
Find progressive Christians in Birmingham

Find progressive Christians in Birmingham

A new discussion group is being formed in Birmingham, a spin-off from the PCN-affiliated group which has been meeting in Birmingham for the past three years.

Do you live on the north side of Birmingham, or in Sutton Coldfield?

If so, you may be interested to know that a new discussion group has just started in your area. It is being led by Chris Wolfe, and supported by the PCN Birmingham Group.

We welcome anyone who is seeking a better understanding of Christianity in today’s world, and who is finding the traditional doctrines of the church difficult or impossible for thinking people. It would be good to join this group right at its beginning. The first meeting will be on 20th February.

If this appeals to you, get in touch with Chris: chris@cwolfe.fsnet.co.uk or 07710 659386.

More details of the existing Birmingham group

Photo: Aerial view of Gravelly Hill Interchange, Birmingham a.k.a. Spaghetti Junction, September 2008. Source: Flickr. Author: Highways Agency

New progressive group in South London

New progressive group in South London

Your chance to be in at the start of a new progressive Christian group forming in Balham

Are you a Christian with progressive theological views who feels a need for discussion in a safe place where no one is going to condemn you for your beliefs? After a few years with no group in South London nearer than Richmond, one of our members is about to start a new one. The first meeting will be in Balham, SW12, on Tuesday 26th November at 7.30pm. PCN members, and others who are sympathetic to PCN aims and concerns, are all welcome. For further details please contact Jane Westland: janewestland@yahoo.co.uk; tel. 0208 772 1937.

If Richmond is closer for you, then have a look at their webpages.

Image credits - description: Broad-bosomed, bold, becalmed, benign; Stands Bal-Ham, four square on the Northern Line. Matched by no marvel save in Eastern scene; A rose-red city, half as Gold as Green. 27 January 2006, Uploaded to Wikimedia Commmons by Oxyman, Author - Mike Knell from Zürich, Switzerland

How to find religious and spiritual talking books

How to find religious and spiritual talking books

Robin Story, a PCN trustee who is visually impaired, has kindly provided contacts for two sources of progressive Christian talking books which are available via the web.

The following titles are available as talking books for those who have sight loss and/or are print disabled,

1. Calibre Audio Library, New Road, Weston Turville, AYLESBURY, HP22 5XQ. Tel: 01296 432339

Note: The Calibre Audio Library is a national charity providing a subscription-free service of unabridged audio books for adults and children with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities, who cannot read print. There is a one-off joining fee of £35 (£20 for Young Calibre).

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