How It All Began

At the heart of the Sea of Faith network is an open, uninhibited conversation. It's how it all began. Early in 1984, Ronald Pearse, a Leicestershire priest, after reading Don Cupitt's Taking Leave of God, wrote to him to say how his book articulated a theology and spirituality he had been moving towards over many years. Another Leicestershire priest had also written to Don Cupitt that year and Don put the two in touch with each other. The conversation had begun.

Later that same year, the BBC broadcast The Sea of Faith, a series of six programmes written and presented by Don Cupitt. Taking its title from Matthew Arnold's poem Dover Beach, the series explored the implications for faith of the work of thinkers such as Galileo, Neitzsche, Freud, Jung and Wittgenstein.

Meanwhile the little Leicestershire group was growing, more people were joining the conversation. More people were also writing to Don in response to the programmes. In July 1988, the Leicestershire group invited those who had written to Don to a conference in Loughborough. The first Sea of Faith conference was held. The conversation was growing.

After two conferences, the question was "What next?" and sixteen people from across the country met in Loughborough to decide future policy and strategy. The Sea of Faith was founded as a "network exploring and promoting religious faith as a human creation". Now the conversation was growing through a magazine first published in 1990 and through local groups across the country modelled on the little Leicestershire group.

Since these early beginnings, the conversation has spread through the website, an on-line discussion group, local one-day conferences, publications and other networks in New Zealand and Australia.

There are now local groups in most parts of England, and one in Wales. Anyone can join a local group; you don't have to join the Network, though we hope you will.

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