“Keeping Faith in a Time of Change” was the theme of the clergy conference this week in Swanwick, Derbyshire.
The programme ranged from looking at “the developing cosmological context of human spirituality” (Diarmuid O'Murchu) to “keeping faith in an age of seduction” (John Bell); along with many shades of worship and Bible study with Margaret Barker.
Bishop Nick said, “The input has challenged us as clergy to think outside our conventional linguistic and theologically conceptual frameworks. I think it’s good to have our preconceptions challenged, rather than simply hearing what confirms our assumed frameworks and makes us feel comfortable. After all, part of the role of clergy is to stir other people up into hearing the Gospel differently, listening through different ears, looking though different eyes, and catching glimpses of God's glory that would remain hidden if we only ever look through familiar lenses.
The Revd Robin Gamble, said, “I’ve been on loads of clergy conferences and this is one of the happiest and richest I’ve been on. We’ve been given new ideas to consider and the fellowship with each other has been really enriching and inspiring”.
Many others said how refreshing and encouraging the conference had been. And for some the highlight was the evening entertainment provided by Jonathan Veira. Known as a ‘musical chameleon’, in his one-man show he veers from jazz to opera, telling riotous anecdotes in between, while very naturally sharing his faith. Robin said, “It’s very cheering to see a room full of clergy (a ‘surplice of clergy’ as he called them) crying with laughter!”
And there was an added dimension for the Revd John Brocklehurst (see photo) as he was able to remind Jonathan that he’d taught him physics several decades ago.
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