This year’s CCPC Conference, Christianity: The Evolving Story, will be held in beautiful and historic Halifax, at St. Mary’s University from August 15 to 17, 2013.
Please check the conference website (www.ccpchalifax2013.eventbrite.ca ) for conference registration. Here you will find all kinds of other information about the keynote speakers, Gretta Vosper and Bruce Sanguin, and those who will provide leadership for our spiritual gatherings, Nancy Steeves amd Lloyd MacLean. In addition, on the website, you will find information relating to the workshops and the workshop leaders, the conference program, and on-site meals and accommodations. The website is also the place to go for updates and announcements about the conference.
The conference itself has been located on the campus of St. Mary’s University. SMU, as the university is affectionately referred to by locals, is in the leafy and very beautiful south end of the city, and an easy walk to such places as the city’s famous Point Pleasant Park and the downtown area of the city itself. Why not visit the university’s website, www.smu.ca, and take a virtual tour of the campus?
For folks who are new to Halifax, this east coast city is easy to reach by road, rail or air and welcoming both in size and demeanor. There are many websites that you can explore to help prepare you for your visit. One of the most comprehensive is www.destinationhalifax.com/
In preparation for the conference, we asked conference planning team member Don Murray, to submit an article to set the intellectual and spiritual scene, so to speak, for the conference. This is what Don wrote:
“It was a time of the changing of the gods.” So begins the 1966 motion picture Hawaii. That was in the midst of the social, cultural, and religious upheaval of the nineteen sixties. It was then that the exodus from the mainline churches began, and has been continuing ever since.
That was the same year that the cover of the April 8th edition of Time magazine, in bold red letters against a black background, posed the question, “Is God Dead?” For the most part, the church swept that thought under the rug and, after affirming that God was indeed alive, carried on.
But there was a psychic shift. It was, and is, a time of the changing of the gods. And once a seed is planted it will grow. For the last couple of decades an awareness has taken root that fundamental change is happening in all avenues of human endeavor. The nineteen sixties can be considered an adolescent outburst. Now we are settling in to seriously consider who we are in relation to the earth and to the spiritual dimension.
One expression of the restless energy within the Christian church is “Progressive Christianity.”
The Centre for Progressive Christianity was founded by Jim Adams in 1994. He was then rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capital Hill inWashington DC. For a time it existed as a virtual Centre on his computer. It has now expanded to many countries and is a movement that is increasing in scope and energy.
Rev. Gretta Vosper, who ministers with West Hill United Church, Toronto, is well known as the founder, head, and chief spokesperson for the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity. She bears eloquent witness to the death of our theistic image of God; that big-daddy in the sky. Her book, With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important Than What We Believe, made it to the best-seller list. Her recent book, Amen, What Prayer can Mean in a World Beyond Belief, probes the meaning of prayer when we have no thought of supernatural intervention.
Another Canadian who has much to offer is Rev. Bruce Sanguin, now serving in Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver. He names his view “Evolutionary Christianity.” His most recent book is The Advance of Love: Reading Scripture with an Evolutionary Heart. Science has given us a sacred story that need not compete with the sacred narrative of scripture.
Rev. Nancy Steeves is yet another clergyperson, serving in pastoral ministry in Southminster-Steinhauer United Church in Edmonton, who is providing meaningful liturgy in a progressive mode. She says; “As we continue to explore new meanings of sacredness we no longer come together Sunday morning to worship but to be a community engaged in spiritual wisdom and ritual, to reflect and deepen our living as spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.” (Presentation at Tatamagouche Centre, 2012.)
Every two years the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity holds a Conference. This year it will be held at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, August 15 – 17. The theme is Christianity: The Story Evolves. The three people mentioned above will be there. Brian and Gretta will be theme speakers and Nancy will lead us in our spiritual gatherings each day.
We have the west, the prairies and central Canada represented in the leadership. The east will do the organizational work as well as provide leadership for workshops and entertainment. Lloyd MacLean, well known in United Church contemporary music circles, will work with NancySteeves and be our Music Director. Emily Kierstead, diaconal minister, composer and workshop leader, will lead us in The Cosmic Walk. Ardythand Jennifer, well known harpists, will provide a quiet and meditative experience, Celtic Vespers.
Kathryn Anderson, a diaconal minister who has been deeply involved in justice work, and Wilf Bean, an adult educator who has worked with theCoady Institute and Tatamagouche Centre, will lead a workshop on Getting Serious About Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. I will be leading a workshop on The Death and Resurrection of God: Christianity and the New Story, outlining the contours of the New Story that is emerging. Murray Wilson will take up an important theme from the 2012 conference, Networking – Connecting at the local level – You are not alone. Monica George Punke, a well known local choral conductor, voice teacher and Anglican Lay Reader will lead us in a workshop onMeditation, Becoming Present. Our former Lt. Governor, the Hon. Mayann Francis will talk on Faith in the Public Forum. And, rounding out the workshops, Lloyd MacLean will lead sessions on Singing our Faith.
The Story Evolves. Wherever you are on the journey may you continue apace.