Chair's Update August 2015

Chair's Update August 2015

PCN's newly elected chair, Adrian Alker, brings us up to date on newly available resources and planned future events.

August 2015

This is my first news update to members of PCN since being elected chair of the trustees and I want to begin by thanking my fellow trustees for their encouragement to take up this role. I am following in the footsteps of Angela Smith and I want to first of all pay tribute to Angela’s dedicated service to PCN as chair and it is good that she is able to continue as a trustee. At our last meeting Paul Onslow was elected as vice chair and Sandra Griffiths as secretary and we look forward to the appointment of a new treasurer in the autumn.

I have been involved in the life of PCN Britain since its inception but now, having recently retired from stipendiary ministry in the Church of England, I feel able to undertake this task, more free than ever perhaps to espouse the cause of open minded, open hearted Christianity! (For some more biographical information about all the trustees see National Team on the website)

I want to pay tribute to the enormous amount of work, imaginatively and thoroughly carried out by our administrator Andy and our administrative assistant, Sarah. Without their daily care and passion for the work of PCN we would not have such a strong national profile. Andy is to retire from the post of administrator in the Spring of next year and we are in the process of preparing the way to appoint a successor. More news on that front in the autumn.

Secondly I want to share my delight at the huge range of activities, of talks and conferences, of meetings and publications which is happening around Britain and which is highlighted in detail on our PCN website. This gives evidence of a very significant desire by many, many people to encounter an authentic pathway in spiritual growth and awareness beyond the confines of established and traditional religion. PCN Britain, through the signposting of our 8 points, the support of our many groups and the building up of different resources, is here to share in this journey of discovery and encounter. Now to some news items!

Resources available through our website – just follow the links

Now on sale are DVDs of the Mark Oakley talks at our Spring AGM and the Jack Spong lecture in June (both £10 inc. P&P). Still on sale, at £6, is a DVD of the Richard Holloway talk given to the Being Honest to God conference at Swanwick – a wonderful and stimulating talk on God!

If you missed Val Webb, you can watch a free Youtube video of her Newbury talk, In Defence of Doubt; we are grateful to Howard Grace for making this available. Richard Gray of PCN Cornwall has also made available a talk by Barbara Brown Taylor given to them last month.

Coming soon on the website will be free audio downloads of some of the classic conference talks by Marcus Borg, Jack Spong, Dominic Crossan and others. The first will be Marcus Borg’s Edinburgh Conference in September 2010, Being Christian in the 21st Century. Many of these older recordings are from Chris Avis’ back catalogue and we are grateful to him for making them available. If you prefer to have these recordings sent to you by post as a set of CDs, this can be arranged. Write to the office or go to the CD section of the online shop. All these pre-2013 conference sets are now being sold at cost price.

Future Events this year

Once again PCN Britain will have a stall at the Greenbelt Festival in the G-Source tent, August 28-31st. If you are booked in or are planning to go to Greenbelt, do come and visit the stall and if you can help to staff it for an hour or two we would love to hear from you!

The Australian author, with particular insights into worship, Rex Hunt, is giving an evening talk, Rewording Worship, on September 23rd in Cheadle Hulme near Stockport and leading a day conference, entitled Wisdom and Imagination in Newcastle on Saturday 26th September. Follow the links to get more information.

For many years now there have been a series of radical Christian lectures given at Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham. On Saturday October 10th a day conference entitled Belonging without Believing will be addressed by Canon Brian Mountford of the University Church Oxford, whose book Christian Atheism forms the subject of his lecture. Also speaking is Revd Dr Harriet Harris, chaplain at Edinburgh University, whose lecture is entitled The Tears and Laughter of God.

There are other interesting conferences and meetings taking place in the coming autumn, promoted both by PCN regional groups and by our sister organisations. Here is a small sample

For a full list of recommended events visit the PCN website Eventspage

Red Letter day! Marcus Borg memorial day conference 14 May 2016

Progressive Christians and searchers of all kinds have been greatly influenced by the writings of Marcus Borg, whose untimely death at the beginning of this year came as a great sadness to all who knew him. On Saturday May 14 next year PCN, together with three other organisations, will celebrate the life and work of Marcus by holding a day conference, at Carrs Lane

Church in Birmingham. Tributes will be made and our guest speaker is Diana Butler Bass, who has been described by Marcus Borg as ‘one of our foremost commentators on twenty first century Christianity’. Bass’s clearly worded, powerful, and probing book, Christianity After Religion, is required reading for anyone with an interest in the future of Christianity.

Please put this date now in your diary and we are hoping to fill Carrs Lane for what we think will be an exciting event. More information is available on our website.

Also in 2016….

Our Annual Meeting next year will take place in Leeds at Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel on Saturday March 12th. Bearing in mind the 8th point of our 8 points, namely Working together within and beyond the Church to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world, we are hoping to invite a speaker who can challenge and excite us in this regard.

The Maidenhead and Windsor group has planned a fascinating day of dialogue between Revd Emma Percy, chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford and David Pollock a trustee of the British Humanist Association. This will take place on June 4th 2016.

Later in the autumn of 2016 PCN will hopefully partner with Hodder publishers to stage a couple of speaking engagements with Brian McLaren in Exeter and Harrogate.

We’ll keep you informed about these events as we know more.

Finally to you our members

Without the continuing support of the members PCN Britain, both financially and in so many other ways, we would not be able to undertake all we do and all we try to promote. I hope, like me, you feel a sense of excitement at belonging to our network and I hope you can encourage others to join our membership. Together we are a fellowship seeking a new kind of Christianity. We share ideas and information through the four quarterly publications of Progressive Voices (expertly edited by Dave Coaker, to whom we are greatly indebted) and these updates. As members we have access to our DVD library, we receive discounts at conferences and above all we are the main source of income to enable all this work to thrive.

So thank you for your continuing support and please don’t forget to explore regularly the PCN website with its wealth of information, help and comment. Don’t hesitate to contact me on any PCN matter and I look forward to meeting many of you at future events or on my visits to PCN groups. The next meeting of trustees is on September 12th and if there are any matters you would like the trustees to discuss, do let me know.


To respond to Adrian Alker or to contact the PCN office, here are some contacts., 07595 249791,, 01594 516528

PCN Britain, 26 High Street, Newnham, Gloucestershire, GL14 1BB

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