Blue skies above the Trent Building on the campus of Nottingham University, and the venue for this year’s annual conference of the Society for the Study of Theology over a couple of days (I thought this made for a better snapshot, for once, than a hall full of 240 people all facing the front listening to one speaker). As a member of this Society I try and attend the annual conference, which moves around a small number of university campuses who can accommodate the 200+ members during a semester break close to Easter. This is supported as part of the denomination’s Education for Ministry phase 3 (EM3) funding which enables ministers to continue their development and formation throughout their time of ministry, and is taken up in a wide variety of ways that encourage and support those in ministry.
It was encouraging to see a good number of URC colleagues from across the denomination present and contributing to the discussions. It is a society which brings together the academy and the church into dialogue in a way which generates theological thinking about relevant issues for us all. This year’s theme was simply “Peace” explored in a variety of ways, although a few seminars helpfully picked up themes in connection with the 500th anniversary this year of the Reformation(s).
Most importantly for our work one former bishop, reflecting on 65 years of the society toasted with cake and wine, said “Theology is the only thing standing between the Church and quick fixes.” Please pray for:
- all who work within the academy to explore theology and engage theologically with contemporary issues, and are supporting students and ordinands to deepen their capacity for theological thinking and reflection
- the Church as it wrestles with the strains of being Church today that it may more deeply understand the nature of God, who raised Jesus from the dead and pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people, and our calling to be a missional people
- our ministers that they may continue to be enriched by opportunities for reflection, study and fellowship with others