Reactions to the 2011 conference

by Brenda Watson, conference photos by Joan Dorrell
from Signs of the Times No. 43 - Oct 2011

This was my third conference and once again I very much enjoyed it.

One regret however is that it didn't really address what I see as one of the main functions for Modern Church - explaining an approach to the Bible which really can help to guard against the shocking abuse of it to which Adrian Thatcher drew attention in his keynote address. In view of the horrendous struggles rocking the Anglican Church at the moment, all of which rely to some extent on an interpretation of scripture, I feel that this was a serious opportunity missed.

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Conference afterword

by Adrian Thatcher
from Signs of the Times No. 43 - Oct 2011

I am grateful to the editor of Signs of the Times for the opportunity to reflect on the recent annual conference which I chaired, Can These Bones Live? Reading the Bible Today.

The conference questionnaires indicate a high level of satisfaction with it. This provides some quiet, welcome relief, since there were several innovations. The restored reception for first-timers was clearly a success. New friendships were still being forged long after the copious wine had run out. Then, there was  a major innovation regarding the organization of discussion. The location of impromptu groups within the conference hall, around tables, sustained by sweets and drinks and worksheets to prompt conversations, seemed far superior to fixed groups meeting in different rooms, and it also gave opportunity for more interaction with the speakers (while leaving an option for people who wanted to, to meet outside or in an adjacent room).

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Donald Barnes - a further tribute

by Claire Wilson
from Signs of the Times No. 43 - Oct 2011

Both Donald and Sally have been closely involved in the process leading up to women's ordination to the priesthood. Donald was one of the first to join MOW, and Margaret Webster remembers him  in those early days as an excellent strategist and an accurate predictor of outcomes. He was a faithful attender at all events, whether it was a coffee morning or a march along Whitehall!

Donald provided an anchor at many moments when the heaving seas of controversy and fierce debate might have caused hearts to fail. At one meeting I recall a young member of MOW announcing  that she had given up on the Church of England and was planning to make a dramatic exit, leaving the world  in no doubt about the reasons for her rage and frustration. Donald responded calmly that she was certainly within her rights to do just that. 'But you realise of course' he added,  'that you can only leave once.'

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Donald Barnes - a tribute

by Sally Barnes
from Signs of the Times No. 43 - Oct 2011

Donald was an amazing, much loved and loving man who lived a life of deep faith. For us his family,  our children, their partners and our grandchildren he will be unforgettable and quite irreplaceable.  But we do rejoice in his life and what he gave to us. He died in the fullness of years at home;  we were with him; and for that we give thanks. His was a life well lived.

He was a man of formidable intellect with a deep biblical and theological knowledge, a voracious reader  and, as many of you know, with a faultless memory for historical events/dates/cricket scores  from the beginning of time, general election results and analysis. It was like living in a university  with his great knowledge and love of discussion and challenge. One of our children once said about him  'Dad has three main interests in life, cricket, politics and religion, and I am not sure in which order to put them.'

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Now it is our turn

Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 43 - Oct 2011

It was worth waiting for. Our Annual Conference on reading the Bible today lived fully up to expectations, and Adrian Thatcher is to be congratulated for the line-up of speakers, particularly those who addressed the mutual relevance of reading Scripture and reading film, art and literature.

In fact  the final session was so full and rich that Adrian never got a chance to offer his own afterword, and this is therefore included below, along with the impressions of one attender - and a sample of the offerings  at the Thursday evening cabaret! Later in the issue there are also reviews of the two new Modern Church books which were launched at the conference.

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