Saturday saw me attend the St. Mark's Centre for Radical Christianity October Conference. St. Mark's is a liberal Anglican church here in Sheffield. I went there briefly in the year I spent in Sheffield before starting work in Millhouses.
It was a bit of an odd day really. In essence, it felt a bit like I was eavesdropping on a conversation that this group of liberal Christians were engaging in. The theme of the day was "Building a Progressive Christian Spirituality". I say it felt like I was eavesdropping, because it felt as though the conversation(s) that were being had throghout the day were very much to do with working out where this 'Progressive Christianity' movement is heading. (St. Mark's has strong links with PCN Britian - The Progressive Christianity Network for Great Britian and Ireland.)
I came away from the day with mixed feelings. I was saddened by hearing comments and conversations from individuals, not the 'up-front' speakers, that were pretty harsh towards the evangelical side of the Church. I understand that there is hurt, and pain, and anger, about the way that different parts of the church put their beliefs into practice, but that saddens me.
I was intgrigued by the fact that the conversation concering disillusionment with certain elements of ritual and practice, and questions about the future of the Church, remind me of very similar conversations which have occurred, and continue to occur, in other parts of the Church.
I have a sense of longing, longing that these different parts of the Church would talk to each other, and recognise that so many of the questions which they face in their own seperate churchmanships, are being asked right across the whole spectrum of churchmanships.
I have a sense of hope that in this collective questioning about the future of the Church, that a certain amount of 'coming together to ponder these questions' might just possibly occur.
I recogise that in this account, I've not actually said a whole lot about what was said at the conference. I'll try and type up some of my notes and post them.
I went to this conference with my friend and fellow youthworker Joel, who gives his take on the day.