Plans and Projects for PCN Britain
Chair’s letter outlines plans and projects for PCN Britain
There have been a number of well-received PCN events this autumn, in particular our members’ weekend at the Hayes Conference Centre at Swanwick (reviewed in this PV) and the Marcus Borg Memorial Conference held at St Marks Church in Broomhill, Sheffield, when we had the pleasure of welcoming Marianne Borg. These and other events, such as the Future of Faith lectures in Rawtenstall, give a much needed opportunity for PCN members and friends to meet together and to feel part of a bigger progressive movement across the UK. Indeed, we know that we are also part of a global movement seeking to free Christianity from many of the constraints imposed by outdated dogmas and rigid frameworks of belief. Marianne invited us to keep in touch with the work of the Marcus Borg Foundation and you can do this by registering your email address to receive news from that organisation (see www.marcusjborg.org).
But evident at these and other PCN events is the age demographic of those who attend. There are very few participants between the ages of 18 and 30 and this is an issue which I raised in my last PV letter and of course is a familiar one to many churches and religious organisations. I am therefore very excited by the initial progress made in respect of some short films which the PCN trustees have decided to commission. A generous grant from the Westhill Trust will go some way to have a number of short films (5 minutes or so) made by a professional media company. Two such companies have met with us and are very keen to engage with us on this project.
The hope is to produce films which feature young adults telling their particular story of how they are experiencing life in our contemporary society; stories which resonate with a wide range of ages and which raise issues around gender and sexuality, self-worth, poverty, racial prejudice, the role of faith, extremism, and other matters. We hope through accompanying resources, signposting to faith-based and secular organisations, PCN can walk alongside young people, learning from them and giving whatever support and encouragement is needed. It may well be that we can encourage a network of younger people to come into being (probably through social media) which is very much allied to PCN, is involved with the film project and has a life of its own. I’m not sure if this is a good analogy but perhaps in the way that mainstream political parties have a younger members’ set-up?
I truly believe this film project gives us a real opportunity to engage with younger people and to share our vision for a compassionate and just world, taking our inspiration from the life of Jesus and exploring together what we experience as the sacred in life. Many young people may not see churches as their home turf but we can share across the ages the kind of hopes and convictions which emanate from our eight points. Our project may well provide just the kind of stepping stones we need.
But we will need more financial support if we are to produce these short films to a high professional standard and that is why I would like to hear the views of members about the possibility of setting up a special fund to finance this work. Members were generous when we set up the Marcus Borg Memorial Fund and that has achieved its purpose of helping to finance an event for each of the five years following Marcus’s death. We now have sufficient funds to complete this undertaking and the trustees will discuss whether to wind up that particular fund and perhaps to set up a new fund for the film project. Please let me have your views.
Finally, as we approach Christmas – and with a great deal of deconstruction needed as we attend Christmas services! - it would be good to hear of good, progressive ways in which the festival of Christmas was celebrated where you live or visit. In the New Year do let us have any encouraging stories of imaginative and challenging liturgies which moved on from the infant nativity play, wonderful though that is for us grandparents to see our grandchildren so dressed up!
And with that thought may I, on behalf of the trustees, thank all our members for their support throughout 2018 and hope you will continue to support and commend the network in the year to come.
Adrian Alker serves as the
Chair of PCN Britain