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Reflections by Barbara Wollaston (NW region conferences)
from Signs of the Times, No. 24 - Jan 2007
Papers were prepared independently and without the brief of a theme. From a sociological perspective which examined how far the inherited celebrations of folk religion were able to survive in the changing local conditions of modern life, further papers raised questions about the application of symbolism, models, theological and biblical interpretations both to their own historical and cultural context and to ethical and spiritual issues for people and communities living in the world of today. Open recognition of present realities within the personal commitment to an ecclesiastical tradition and the importance of defending the freedom to raise questions permeated the discussion throughout the day.
For the writer, the attempt to discern an overview threw into sharp focus the need to take seriously the name of our organisation - The Modern Churchpeoples' Union. Those present and actively participating were certainly not all Anglicans. The discussion ranged over issues of worship, bible, theology and church commitment which were of interest to all present. I suspect that the change of word in the title to 'churchpeople' was originally a matter of making women visible but as members, we still need to be more sensitive to a church where those of diverse ecclesiastical loyalties value the opportunity to share their concern to live and worship as intelligent, honest and reasonable practising Christians in the world of today. Whilst we listen politely when ongoing anxieties about the survival of a particular ecclesiastical institution come to the surface, some MCU members possibly joined the Union or attend its conferences in order to get away from these!