National, Regional and Local Conferences organised by the Sea of Faith Network (UK)

Sea of Faith is a registered charity, no. 1113177

SOF Conferences

The Sea of Faith Network

We alone create our religion and our faith

About Sea of Faith

Sea of Faith is a network of groups and individuals who share and promote the understanding that religions and religious faith are creations of the human mind and explore together the implications of such an understanding for their moral, spiritual, and social values.

SOF has no creed. It explores the implications for spiritual, social, educational and ecological issues that arise from embracing the provisional nature of religious insight.

It welcomes people from all faith and humanist communities, and those with no involvement in any organised religion. The membership reflects a range of experiential, intuitive and intellectual concerns.

The Network took its name from a BBC television series The Sea of Faith, presented in 1984 by Don Cupitt, then Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The television series and the accompanying book had in their turn drawn their title from Matthew Arnold's poem of the 1860s, Dover Beach.

Cupitt argued that we should cease to mourn the decay of traditional beliefs. Instead he offered a vision for the future of religious faith as entirely human, centred in spiritual and ethical activity.

This vision prompted an exploratory conference in 1988. Further conferences have been held annually and it was out of these that the Sea of Faith Network emerged. There are local groups spread throughout the country.

These are autonomous bodies, some meeting monthly, some quarterly, some preferring open, unstructured discussion, others organising lectures, workshops and one-day events. Members receive bi-monthly newsletters and magazines, written primarily by the membership.

There are also Sea of Faith networks in New Zealand and Australia.

“Most of us think of ourselves as seekers: seekers after knowledge, seekers after truth. If our lives have purpose, we would like to find it. If life itself has meaning, we would love to know what it is. Life is commonly seen as a journey, a pilgrimage, and we travel more securely if we think we know where we are going.

Religion sometimes offers clear-cut answers, promises to reveal Truth, unveils mysteries, and shows us the road mapped out for us in the Great Cosmic Plan. In an uncertain world, it claims to offer certainties, safety and salvation.

If you are looking for clear-cut answers, absolute truths, moral and spiritual certainties, then read no further. Sea of Faith offers none of these. Life just isn't that simple!

Instead, we must make our own meaning, create our own purpose, find ways of working out our own salvation. Not alone, as isolated individuals, but together, in community. That's a tall order, a challenge, an adventure.

If the adventure appeals, you may find that the Sea of Faith Network has something to offer you, and that you have something to offer the Sea of Faith Network. If you don't want to settle for takeaway truths, readymade, written in the Book, you may like to take a dip with us and start making waves. The Sea of Faith Network has no orthodoxy of its own, no line to push, no official formulation of truth. We call ourselves a "network", rather than something more formal and institutional, precisely because we see ourselves as autonomous individuals, each with our own stories, traditions, insights, disciplines.

Many people have heard of Sea of Faith but are not very clear what it is, what it does and what it stands for. The Network has had more than its share of media publicity, some of which has suggested that it is an organization - of "Godless vicars" or "atheist priests", or a special - interest lobby within the churches, or a plot to infiltrate religion with humanism, or the start of a new sect. It is none of these things.

Sea of Faith is an informal network of men and women, some attached to places of worship, some not, who accept the modern view that all the religious faith traditions are wholly human creations, not the product of "revelation" from some extra - human source. This view of religion as a human creation is the common denominator which brings together an otherwise very diverse group of people: radical Christians and "post - Christians", humanists, and liberals in some of the many faith traditions which are now firmly established in Britain.

Within this informal network, in local groups or by personal contact, in national conferences, magazines and newsletters, mailings and through the Internet, members support each other, share their experiences, and explore the implications of their shared view of religion as a human creation.

Some are clergy: men and women from most of the mainstream Christian denominations and other traditions, including the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and the nonconformist churches. Some are determined to stay within their chosen or inherited tradition, refusing to abandon it to the fundamentalists or those who cling to pre-modern supernaturalist notions. Some only hang in there by their fingernails. Some have broken with organised religion altogether, or have never been involved with it, but want to maintain dialogue with those who see humanity's religious quest as one way, along with poetry and music, all the arts and all the sciences, of making sense of the human condition and giving imaginative expression to the human spirit.

So the Sea of Faith Network is not an exclusively Christian organisation. While it includes many church people, it is equally open to members of all faiths and of none.

Sea of Faith is not a sect. It has no hierarchy, and no leader. Nor does it have even a minimal creed. Even its stated objects, "to explore and promote religious faith as a human creation", are intentionally ambiguous and provisional. If that gives the Network a tendency to anarchy, it is an anarchy tempered by care and concern for each other. No doubt is too shocking, no idea too challenging, to be expressed within the Network. Sea of Faith is a network of friends and acquaintances on a shared, open-minded quest for a rational and creative framework for the one life we have to live.”