Modern Church

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Modern Church is a UK-based membership organisation and registered charity[1] that promotes liberal Christian theology.

Founded in 1898 by members of the Church of England as The Churchmen's Union for the Advancement of Liberal Religious Thought, it was part of the modernist movement that defended biblical scholarship and new scientific findings – especially evolution – against fundamentalism. By 1902, when its objects were finally agreed,[2] the name had become The Churchmen's Union.[3] This was changed to The Modern Churchmen's Union in 1928,[4] The Modern Churchpeople's Union in 1986,[4] and Modern Church in 2010.[1] Also in 2010 a new constitution was adopted.[1] Objects remained unchanged from those in place in 1986 but procedures for electing trustees were revised and management responsibilities clarified.

In the years following its formation 'the Union' established a journal and an annual conference. The first issue of The Modern Churchman[5] was published in 1911, edited by Henry D. A. Major. Major continued as editor until 1956 and was considered the moving spirit of the organisation until his death in 1961.[6] The journal, renamed Modern Believing in 1996,[7] is published quarterly and indexed in the ATLA Religion Database. From January 2014 it was published by Liverpool University Press.[8] In June 2014, it was announced that Steven Shakespeare, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Liverpool Hope University, would become the new editor of the journal from January 2016.[9] Recent editors have included George Pattison, Martyn Percy, Paul Badham, Adrian Thatcher and Jonathan Clatworthy.[10]

Conferences began in 1914. With the exception of the war years, these have remained a significant annual event for members.[11] The 1921 conference 'Christ and the Creeds' caused controversy in the national media over the range of views expressed.[12][13] This was a factor in the creation by the Church of England of a Doctrine Commission in 1922 to investigate and in 1938 report that such views were compatible with Christian faith. The 1967 conference 'Christ for us today' organised by Norman Pittenger was as controversial as 1921, but times had changed and it was regarded as "less earthshaking".[12] In 2008 the 'Saving the soul of Anglicanism: the nature and future of the Anglican Communion' conference[14] chaired by the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, included the Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson as a speaker shortly before the Lambeth Conference to which he had not been invited.

From 2004 to 2012 Modern Church actively engaged in opposing the proposed Anglican Covenant.[15]

In 2013 it ran a series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Honest to God by John Robinson.[16]

At its annual conference in July 2014, Modern Church appointed its first woman president, Linda Woodhead, Professor in the Sociology of Religion in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster.[17]

List of Presidents[edit]


External links[edit]