Chair's Update December 2015

Chair's Update December 2015

In December's update PCN Chair, Adrian Alker, looks ahead to 2016 and outlines the varied conferences and events that are planned.

Christmas 2015

As you will have read in the current edition of Progressive Voices, we have appointed Gareth Hexter as our treasurer and we have co-opted him as a new trustee. The trustees met for 24 hours at the Hayes conference centre in Swanwick Derbyshire in November and it is heart-warming to have such a dedicated group of trustees working on behalf of PCN.

I am also delighted that Sarah Guilfoyle, our present administrative assistant has accepted the invitation of the trustees to take over the reins of administrator after Andy retires from that role and I will be finalising arrangements with Sarah in the New Year. We shall however need someone to take the minutes of the trustees meetings from June 2016. We meet four times a year. PCN will pay the full expenses of someone who might feel able to support the network in such work. Could that be you?

Again I want to say a big thank you to all who have contributed to the Marcus Borg memorial fund, which presently stands at nearly £600 and to invite you to make a contribution if you have not already done so. This fund will help us to mount future events in honour of Marcus. You can make a donation on-line via our website or by sending a cheque to the PCN office. Payable to PCN Britain (MBMF).

This brings me to mention our May 14 2016 Day Conference at the ‘Church at Carrs Lane’ Birmingham when we will celebrate Marcus' s great contribution to progressive Christianity by engaging with one of his leading admirers, Diana Butler Bass, who will give presentations around her latest book 'Grounded', under the title : Finding God in the World – a Spiritual Revolution. This should be a great occasion and I hope that you are planning to join us. If you are hoping to travel by car, perhaps bringing others, there is some good news in that you can park for just £2.50 all day at the New Canal St car park, Digbeth B5 5BL, just 10 minute walk away from Carrs Lane. For full details of this and all PCN events including how to book, please go to or call the office 01594 516528.

Many of our members and many of our groups have found the Together in Hope publications very helpful and we now have a new title, 'Re-thinking Worship', written by Jan Berry. You can purchase the book from our own PCN on-line shop or as a Kindle. The book will have a 'launch' on Monday 25 January at Luther King House in Manchester, when Jan and I will be speaking about progressive liturgy and worship. This event, which is free, begins at 7.30 pm with refreshments from 6.45 pm and so if you live in the Manchester region we hope you will find time to join us. Jan is also a speaker at the Birmingham group's day conference on March 5th and you will see more details of that event on our website.

Our annual meeting in 2016 takes place in Leeds on 12 March, when we have invited Professor Richard Harris from Bristol to address the question, What must Christians do about our unequal society? As progressive Christians we know only too well how the radical message of Jesus bears down on the injustices we see in our contemporary world. Our annual meeting/spring conference is not only an opportunity to reflect on the work of PCN and elect its trustees but also to share in our common desire to be effective workers for that kingdom of justice in our own context. Non-members welcome. Please book your place - full details on the website. If coming solely for the AGM, there is no charge but please let us know you are coming.

We’re also taking bookings now for the 2016 members’ residential, April 22nd – 24th, on the theme of mindfulness. Please bear in mind that places are limited so don’t delay if you’d like to go.

2016 promises to be one of our busiest years. The trustees are keen to follow through on our vision for the work of PCN and the strategic objectives we have set. One of those objectives is to build up our resources of progressive worship material and to encourage the writing of liturgies. We have set up a task group under the leadership of Tony Rutherford and the group will be hoping to work with members throughout next year in this regard. Watch this space!

Another objective is to produce new leaflets about PCN, to better our communication and those leaflets are in the work stage.

Looking further ahead, many of you will be interested to know that Bishop Jack Spong is returning for a brief tour in October. He will be speaking at PCN group led events in Cardiff, Malvern and Maidenhead. Details to follow. The Maidenhead group is also hosting a day of dialogue between Christians and Humanists on Saturday June 4th for which tickets are already on sale on our website.

I want to end this update on a personal note. Nine months ago I retired from stipendiary ministry in the Church of England, having served in four dioceses and having founded the St Marks Centre for Radical Christianity whilst at St Marks Broomhill for twenty of those years. Towards the end of my final job in Leeds, I took some time to write about my experiences and about the future of the Church. The result is a book entitled, 'Is a Radical Church Possible?', to be published in March by John Hunt publishers. Bishop Jack Spong has kindly done a foreword. The book will be on sale through Amazon (you can already see it there) but also through the PCN shop at a reduced price, with a small donation going to PCN. I would be happy to come and talk through the subject of a 'Radical Church' at any day meetings which PCN groups would like to organise in 2016. My only request would be to meet my travel expenses and (of course!) the opportunity to sell the book to those who might be interested. It would also be a chance for me as Chair of the trustees to meet members across the country. I await any invitations with pleasure!

All good wishes for Christmas, in whichever way you celebrate the feast!


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