'In Conversation' Zoom session

17th January 2024 at 7.00pm
Caroline Pickard
My experience of Protective Presence in Palestine

For a good few years now I have been going to Palestine with a small group as 'protective presence', supporting the Palestinians as they harvest their olives in October.
We go to villages that are particularly vulnerable located as they are close under two settlements well known for their extremely aggressive Zionism. I have seen how the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) collude with settlers as they attack Palestinians and destroy olive trees.
Since the events of 7th October the situation has deteriorated sharply but we are getting regular updates from our friends in the villages.
My talk will refer to my own experiences and I'll be happy to answer any questions arising from it.

Zoom link - Please join from 6.45pm to ensure a prompt 7pm start.
For any technical support, join at 6.30pm

Topic: Sea of Faith Network 'In Conversation'
Time: Jan 17, 2024 7.00pm London
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Meeting ID: 829 2817 5498

Future sessions for your diary

21st February - Martin Spence - A Passion for Churches

Why is it that people who never worship in church, can still love church buildings? Why is it that these Christian buildings can stir the imagination and emotions of people who do not regard themselves as Christian? Drawing on his personal experience, and referring to churches he loves, Martin Spence will tackle these puzzling questions.

20th March - John Holroyd - Imagining Secularisation and Modernity: some reflections on Charles Taylor's A Secular Age

In his book A Secular Age Charles Taylor paints an unsettling picture of our times. The self, he claims, has been disembedded from community and the attention of individuals has come to focus on personalised goals and material acquisitions. Taylor is clearly persuaded, in part at least, by Nietzsche's view that 'the last of men live just for a pitiable comfort'. In the West we celebrate the hard fought victories that have given rise to individual freedom, and yet, Taylor also wants to suggest, we are simultaneously prey to consumerism and prone to lose our liberties as our desires are nudged around by market forces. By leading us away from the provisions and associations of community our individualistic culture has exposed us to the prospect of being primarily buyers and sellers; cogs in the mechanisms of the market.
In this talk, I will try and clarify the 'problem situation' that Taylor seeks to hold up to us as a mirror of much Western society. I will ask us to consider how accurate Taylor's unsettling images are. I shall also examine what I believe to be the dangers of 'oven ready' religious solutions to the problems he outlines, and make some comments of my own about the interrelated character of spirituality and secularity.

Previous sessions recordings

Oliver Essame has worked hard at improving the SoFN website (https://www.sofn.uk/) and has uploaded most of the previous sessions on:


40th Anniversary Events for your Diary

July 1st & 2nd, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

September 20th-22nd, 2024: Gladstone's Library, Harwarden

July 20th, St John's Church, London

Saturday 20 July 2024

In the Beginning was Don Cupitt and the 'Sea of Faith' BBC Documentaries

40 Years Later: Reflection and Appreciation

Rev Tony Windross, Rev Anthony Freeman, Professor Linda Woodward

Saturday 20 July 2024

11.00 - 4.30pm
St John's Church
Waterloo Road
London, SE1 8TY

National Day Conference

This Conference was successfully held as adverised below.

Transcipts are here on this link in the Autumn issue of 'Sofia' magazine

Monday 24th July 2023

In the Beginning was Music?

Music and Religion

St John's Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY


Patti Whaley, BA, MA Musicology

A chartered accountant, IT specialist and Charity manager (formerly Chair, ActionAid UK; Treasurer, Food Ethics Council; Deputy Secretary General, Amnesty International), Patti is a local church organist. She has a B.A. & M.A. in Musicology and an ABRSM Diploma in organ performance (distinction).
She is a former Chair of the Sea of Faith Network.

The Revd Stephen Mitchell

Published author (including "God in the Bath" and "Past Perfect") and former Rural Dean & Canon, Stephen has always been a musical vicar. He has a degree in Music and taught music in a secondary school before reading Theology at Cambridge.
Stephen is also a former Chair of the Sea of Faith Network.

Elaine Henson

Elaine is a music graduate of the Universities of Exeter and Durham and a singing licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Katie Hainbach, Head of Music and Arts, Alyth Synagogue

A mezzo-soprano, Katie is an experienced opera singer, teacher and choral conductor.
She has a BA (hons) in Music Studies (including a distinction in Music Pedagogy) and a MMus in Vocal Performance.
Katie has performed on radio and television in the UK and Ireland.
She has travelled around the country doing music for people with dementia and other community music.
At the Alyth Synagogue, Katie is responsible for the choirs, musical and acting groups.

Alyth Synagogue website: https://www.alyth.org.uk/

(For more Conference details and a booking form, download this PDF brochure)

In the Beginning was Music?: Monday, July 24, 2023: Click this Link for extra conference detail!

"As I Please" by John Pearson

Click this link for full details.

To purchase 'As I Please', click this link.

Sea of Faith Summer Conference 2022

This successful virtual Conference was held this Summer, with attendees from as far as Austria, Australia and California, USA

The dates were: Monday July 25 to Thursday July 28, 2022.

Speakers were: Peter Francis, Warden, Gladstone's Library, Harwarden;

Brian Mountford, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford;

Anastasia Somerville-Wong, first Humanist Chaplain, Exeter University.

Here is a link for more details:

Click this Dedicated Conference Link for more details.

Edited transcripts and Zoom recordings of the Speakers' presentations are now available:

1. In the issue of Sofia magazine: no.145, September 2022

2. As viewable Zoom recordings on this link.

A good friend and former speaker at our Annual National Conference UK, Bishop John Spong, died peacefully, aged 90, September 12, 2021. He sponsored the formation of the Progressive Christianity Network UK and was a major influence in bringing Christianity into the 20th and 21st centuries through his voluminous writings and many speaking tours. He was greatly loved and will be hugely missed.

Bishop John Shelby Spong passes.

Bishop Spong's reflections on the Sea of Faith Network at our 1995 Conference.

Sea of Faith Summer Conference 2021

This Conference was virtual, replacing our annual conference at Leicester University.

As a free online Zoom event, it attracted more attendees (from Australia to California) than our last physical conference!

We expect to be able to post links to some of our talks and discussions soon.

Monday July 19th to Friday July 23rd

"Talking Allowed"

God and Non-Realism

What is God?

The Death of God

The Future of God and Organised Religion

Click this Dedicated Conference Link for Full Detailed Programme.

For more details about the recorded and live Contributors:

Click this link

To download a programme pdf:

Click this link

Sea of Faith National Conference 2019

This took place from Tuesday to Thursday, 23 - 25 July, 2019 at Leicester University

"Is That All There is?"

Speakers included:

Guest speaker: the rev. Ernie Rea, presenter of Radio 4's discussion series "Beyond Belief".

A transcript of his talk: "From Exclusive to Inclusive: a Journey of Faith".

Guest speaker: Avril Robarts. Her presentation was entitled "This and That: A life of perplexed practice with emphasis on Indian tradition".

In-house speaker: A past SOFN Chairman and current Treasurer, Stephen Williams, former Deputy Chief Probation Officer for the West Midlands.

A transcript of his talk: "Justice Through the Looking Glass".

Click on this link for further details

Sea of Faith National Conference 2018

The last UK National Sea of Faith Conference was on 24 - 26 July 2018 at Leicester University

"The Necessity of Hope"

Speakers included:

1. Professor Richard Norman
2. Doctor Anthony Carroll.

The title of their talk was "Hope, Faith and Redemption"

They are co-editors of "Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide", a book described as "all about dialogue".

Richard Norman is Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Kent, UK

His publications include On Humanism (2nd edition 2012). He is a founder-member of the Humanist Philosophers' Group and a Vice-President of Humanists UK

Anthony Carroll was (until recently) Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology at Heythrop College, University of London, UK

His publications include Protestant Modernity: Weber, Secularization, and Protestantism (2007), and he is an Anglican priest.

3. Dinah Livingstone's talk was entitled "Hope for Humanity - A Theology of Liberation and the Beautiful City".

Dinah is a poet, translator and editor of Sofia.

Her most recent publication is "The Making of Humanity - Poetic Vision and Kindness".

Sea of Faith London Conference 2017

'In the Beginning was the Word' - Religion as Poetry and Story?

Saturday 25th March 2017

St John's Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY

Main Speakers were:

Mark Oakley: Canon-Chancellor, St Paul's Cathedral

"Believing in Poetry"

Dinah Livingstone: editor, 'sofia' magazine

"Shining - Poetry and Theology as Sister Arts"

Salley Vickers: novelist and poet

"Connections between Art, Literature, Psychology and Religion."

Salley Vicker's talk was repeated at Westminster Abbey, Thursday 11 May 6.30pm as the 32nd Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture: "Faith and Imagination"

A Conference DVD recording is now available from Chris Avis. For details on how to purchase, click on this link.

Transcripts of Mark Oakley's and Dinah Livingstone's talks were published in issue no. 124 of 'sofia' magazine
Salley Vicker's talk was published in 'sofia' issue no 126

Don Cupitt and the 'Sea of Faith Network'

The 'Sea of Faith Network', (SOFN), arose out of the response to the 1984 BBC documentary series "Sea of Faith" written and presented by Don Cupitt, and produced by Peter Armstrong. (for more detail, click this link).

It is still available from our DVD supplier, Chris Avis (click this link).

Don Cupitt, meeting Peter Armstrong again in 2016, reflects on his religious journey

Don Cupitt looks back on a lifetime grappling with the understanding of Christian faith. He is in conversation with Peter Armstrong, the producer of the original BBC series The Sea of Faith. (click this link).

Interview with Don Cupitt by John Shuck

On 15 August 2015, 'Religion For Life' broadcast John Shuck's interview with Don Cupitt: 'Creative Faith: Religion As a Way of Worldmaking'

John Shuck in his own words

'I'm a Presbyterian minister who doesn't believe in God'

More Don Cupitt interviews, talks and transcripts

Click this link for more on Don Cupitt

Conference Recordings

28th ANNUAL UK CONFERENCE 2015: 'Out of Our Minds. What Can We Offer Towards a Healthier World?'

A recording of this Conference (CDs and a DVD of highlights) is now available from Chris Avis. Chris's contact details.

A full list of other Conference Recordings now available from Chris Avis.

A Reasonable Faith re-issued

David Boulton's original 'Sea of Faith' booklet,
'A Reasonable Faith: Introducing the Sea of Faith Network',
has been re-issued as a free e-book in PDF format.

Download and read it now!

University Times Interview with the Reverend David Paterson

The editor of the University Times, the student newspaper of Trinity collge Dublin, interviews one of our Trustees, the Reverend David Paterson

Dinah Livingstone (editor of 'sofia' magazine) and David Paterson interviewed on 'The Big questions' in 2011

Sea of Faith was featured on BBCs‘s The Big Questions in Jan 2011. The question was “Can you be a Christian but not believe in God?”. Sea of Faith members David Paterson and Dinah Livingstone tackle the question.


New Book Launch

New book by Dinah Livingstone.

“The Making of Humanity: Poetic Vision and Kindness”

An essay in four chapters published on 19th July 2017

What is the point of poetry? And why with our poetic genius do we create a whole imaginary supernatural realm? Isn't it enough for humankind to be rational animals, or try to be? Why are we also poetic animals, and need to be? Looking closely at various poems, this book explores poetry and theology as sister arts. It believes that poetic vision and kindness are the making of humanity.

Available now from the publisher KATABASIS.

Click this link for more details

From Monk to Modernity: The Challenge of Modern Thinking

by Dominic Kirkham

was published by SOF and launched on July 24th 2015 at the SOF Annual Conference.
Copies can be ordered for £10 post-free from :
SOF Admin,
24 Frederick Road,
Birmingham B15 1JN.

After spending many years in a religious order, Dominic Kirkham describes how he was driven to meet the challenge of modern thinking, an exercise which has proved both freeing and frightening.

He says this has been 'something of a personal odyssey, which now spans a life¨time of over six decades and is still ongoing.'

And he adds: 'The presumption of the book is that this is of more than personal interest because the subject affects everyone; my personal journey will no doubt reflect that of many others.'

In a broad sweep from Neolithic times to the twenty-first century, he considers our human quest for meaning and a good life, and how we can engage in it today.

Solarity Learning Resources

Our own online resource for RE teachers and Leaders of Religion and Philosophy Clubs, Sea of Faith 'Solarity' Resources, can be found on the following link:

Solarity Learning Resources

Another excellent online resource for RE teachers, RE Online, can be found on the following link:

RE Online

Religious Education Council of England and Wales

As a registered religious education charity, the 'Sea of Faith Network UK' has a keen interest in the teaching of RE. The Network is a new member of the RE Council:

This link gives more detail:

Religious Education Council of England and Wales

Agenda for Faith re-issued

cover of Agenda For Faith

Stephen Mitchell's original 'Sea of Faith' book, Agenda for Faith, has been re-issued as a free e-book with a new introduction.

Download and read it now!

Being Quaker Now

'The Nontheist Friends Network' members are fellow-travellers with the Sea of Faith Network. (Click this link to explore their website).

'Sea of Faith' fellow-traveller, Michael Wright, is Clerk of the Steering Committee of the 'Nontheist Friends Network', a network of Quakers who regard religion as a human creation.
He has written a response to a Theist Quaker academic, Ben Pink Dandelion's lecture and book 'Open for transformation: being Quaker'.

This response, 'Being Quaker now', is available on the following link:

Download and read it now!

Another London Conference of interest

Sea of Faith London Conference 2013

“Secular Religion?”

Saturday 21st September 2013

Main Speakers were: Stephen Batchelor; Don Cupitt; Richard Holloway

4 DVD Video Recordings of this Conference are now available: £12 by PayPal, credit card or cheque (payable to Chris Avis, not Sea of Faith).

See ordering details

Transcripts of all talks from this sell-out Conference

A personal view from Dinah Livingstone, our Sofia magazine editor (Christmas no.110); see her editorial

Anne Ashworth's book is still available.

“Not as the Crow Flies”

Journal and Selected Poems

Not as the Crow Flies: Journal and Selected Poems by Anne Ashworth. The book can be ordered from bookshops, online or by post from:

Stephen Williams
157 Russell Road, Moseley,

The book is £7.95 postfree. With your order please enclose a cheque for £7.95 made out to 'Sea of Faith' or 'SOF'.

Dinah Livingstone's book is still available.

“Poetic Tales”

an essay in four chapters

If we regard God or gods and the whole supernatural realm as the rich product of the human imagination, what value can such 'poetic tales' still have for us, once we have discarded the supernatural? The surprising answer is as much as ever. Not only does everyone, atheist or otherwise, need some theology, without which so much of our history and culture remains baffling, but when taken and sifted with what Coleridge called poetic faith, those tales are found to contain treasures of wisdom.

Poetic Tales is subtitled 'Logosofia Down to Earth'. For more than twenty years Coleridge planned a huge work to be called Logosophia but never actually got round to it. This book is not, of course, the one Coleridge would have written. Although its scope has a dash of Coleridgean ambition, it is more a train of thought than a treatise, combining a defence of poetry, a natural theology (with nothing supernatural about it) and a quest for kindness. More...

Available now from the publisher KATABASIS. Download order form right now or get your copy at the conference!

Sofia - The Sea of Faith magazine

Read editorial and articles from the latest edition of Sofia magazine.

Sofia is the magazine of the Sea of Faith Network (UK) and is published quarterly. It is free to all members of the UK network but non-members can also subscribe to the magazine. Further details...

SOF Book

The new SOF book This Life on Earth, edited by Dinah Livingstone, was published at the SOF Conference in Leicester 2009 (21st-23rd July, 2009).

The book contains 176 pages with 38 contributors, 19 women and 19 men. It costs £9.50. Orders by post may be sent to:

Sea of Faith, 3 Belle Grove Place, Spital Tongues, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4LH.

Please send a cheque for £11 (to include postage) made out to 'Sea of Faith'.

This Life on Earth is also available online from Amazon.co.uk

Local Groups

Sea of Faith has a network of local groups throughout the UK. Everyone is welcome to attend a local group - you don't have to be a member of the national network. Click HERE to see various groups' activities.

Please contact the webmaster if you have any comments. Contact details of other SoF officers can be found on the Trustees page


Sea of Faith
See the Film!

The Film of the TV series of the book is available as a DVD set at a cost of £12.50 (inc p&p) More...

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