National, Regional and Local Conferences organised by the Sea of Faith Network (UK)

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The Sea of Faith Network

SOF 2021

We alone create our religion and our faith

Elaine Graham (born 1959) is the Grosvenor Research Professor at the University of Chester. She was until October 2009 the Samuel Ferguson Professor of Social and Pastoral Theology at the University of Manchester.[1][2] In March 2014, she was installed as Canon Theologian of Chester Cathedral.

Marcus Borg was an American New Testament scholar and theologian. He was among the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity. As a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, Borg was a major figure in historical Jesus scholarship.

Rabbi, writer and broadcaster, Jonathan Romain is minister of Maidenhead Synagogue. He is Chaplain to the Jewish Police Association, President of the Accord Coalition (campaigning for inclusive education) and Vice-Chair of Dignity in Dying. His latest book is 'Confessions of a Rabbi’ (Biteback). He writes for The Times and The Jewish Chronicle and is often heard or seen on the BBC. In 2004, he received the MBE for his work nationally in pioneering a more welcoming attitude to mixed-faith couples.

Terry Eagleton FBA is an English literary theorist, critic, and public intellectual. He is currently Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University. Eagleton has published over forty books, but remains best known for Literary Theory

Paul Vittle

Paul is a retired counsellor and Headteacher. He is a member of SOF and has focussed his attention recently on the long term future of the Anglican Church. How might the Church, and in particular our developing view of God, evolve over the next 150 years?‘

The focus of my talk is the evolution of the theology of God as it affects specifically the Anglican Church.

How might God be viewed as far into the future as one hundred and fifty years from now? What might the journey into that future involve?

I will focus on my own journey of faith, doubt and reconstruction. Belief in God is not binary, but how will the Church learn to change and adapt to a belief in God that is bespoke and fully inclusive?

Iain Robertson

‘Iain first joined S o F in the 1990s as a means of keeping sane while working as an organist in a very evangelical part of Norway. He retired back to Britain in 2004 and now lives in York where for 12 years he ran the University of the Third Age Philosophy group.

I hope to start by looking at what needs churches satisfy. I then go on to look at how they actually function. This leads onto the notion of Revelation, in particular the claim to know that God exists. This, I argue, can be misused by power interests. I then suggest that we think of God not as a thing, but as a word pointing to human values. My conclusion is likely to be that since they cater for human needs, churches will continue to function much as they do at present, though ‘my-church-is-right, yours-is-wrong’ attitudes will have to go.

John Pearson

John joined S o F in the 1990’s seeking honest, open enquiry into “God” and “Faith” at a time when this was still a secretive (and rather shocking) activity within The Church. Until his retirement he taught at Northumbria University. Within the Network he has been a Trustee for many years and for ten of these was Chair of Trustees

I have no formal training in either Philosophy or Religion. I come at this from 18 years “believing” and another 49 years “not believing” 67 years simply living.... all of them however very much a part of the established church (C of E). What do I see in it (at best, a small force for good in a crumbling world?) Why can’t I just leave. What are its valuable truths?  What do we do about its untruths? What external face should it present if it wants to be taken seriously? Why does God still linger – the invisible though, for some, powerful elephant in every church building? For me the word God is an immense barrier to understanding, survival and progress.

Dave Francis is the Deputy Chair of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales and Associate Adviser for Bath & North East Somerset SACRE. He has recently been working with Barbara Wintersgill, Denise Cush and a team of teachers and advisers on a project to create substantial online teaching and learning resources, based on the Sea of Faith’s ‘Solarity’ project and 'Big Ideas for RE’. and

Denise Cush is Emeritus Professor of Religion and Education at Bath Spa University. The first female Professor of Religion and Education in the UK in 2003, she was a member of the Commission on RE (2016-18). She taught Study of Religions and RE at school and university levels and also trained teachers of RE both primary and secondary. Her interests include Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and alternative spiritualities such as Paganism, as well as Religious Education.