Continuing the journey conference is an open temporary community, creatively exploring continuity and tension between the world and church, nature and grace, psychology and theology.
‘Here be dragons ... searching for treasure’ feels quite apt at the moment, as we as a country venture into new and uncharted territory, bringing the mixed anticipation that comes with an uncertain future. We are confronted daily by stories that include the struggle to hold together different experiences of the world. Now more than ever, there is a need to hear and understand each other’s stories.
As we put together our next conference, I’m delighted to be able to introduce our speakers to you: Mark Oakley is joining us, which we are delighted about after he was unable to attend last conference; Padraig O’Tuama is returning to conference and although he has shared his poetry and entertained us in the past he is also a well known speaker; Rachel Mann and Julienne McLean are joining us for the first time so we look forward to getting to know them. Each brings a wealth of life experience and will help us reflect on different aspects of our journey.
In this newsletter we’ll introduce you to our speakers and also to one of our newer planning group members, and we’ll share some poetry. As we begin to venture together into unknown territory, do put the conference dates in your diary, and please remember: most new people find us because you’ve invited them.
Chair of planning group
Date of next conference: 4th - 8th May 2020
Booking forms will be available soon, watch out for the next newsletter or check out our website by clicking here.
Introducing Anne Jones, a new planning group member.
I’ve been delighted to join the smoothly running machinery of the Continuing the Journey (CTJ) conference planning. My first committee meeting started with Marie’s innocent observation that the lovely leafy wallpaper behind us could benefit from having a parrot! From this start our conference theme later emerged fully fledged (think pirates, Treasure Island, treasure and maps). My role on the committee is assembling our creative conversations into the meeting’s minutes and also helping Tim with the workshop planning.
I’ve been a regular at CTJ for some years. I get a great deal from the mix of ideas, the mix of people and the mix of activities. Finding myself deep in thought one minute; rocking with laughter another and experimenting with music in another. It’s a conference that integrates and makes something new out of different approaches and thoughts. The loose metaphor of each conference theme gradually develops into applications for my own life. This happens through the thought provoking speakers; the opportunity to talk things through in your small group; meeting inspiring people over meals; and through various prayer and worship experiences.
I’m a church administrator in the mornings and then I’m a relationship counsellor later in the day. I work principally with couples in private practice. Having two jobs seems to be my way, previous combos being a pharmacist/counsellor and counsellor/trainer for Relate. This conference has inspired me at the transition points of jobs and life events.
When I first attended the conference my fellow travellers were mainly counsellors and psychotherapists but over the years I’ve met people with a wider variety of occupations. I think anyone who enjoys thinking about the human condition would find the conference very interesting. This has included clergy; spiritual directors; a magistrate; health care professionals; and writers.
So, do take the plunge. Come dragon hunting next May!
Find out more about our 2019 Conference Speakers
The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley is Dean of St John’s College Cambridge and former Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral. Mark’s interests are the relationship between faith and poetry, human rights and the language and place of faith in the contemporary world. He is the author of several books, including The Splash of Words and the Collage of God. He is a regular lecturer and broadcaster and is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London. He is a trustee of
the Civil Liberties Trust, an ambassador for Stop Hate UK and a Patron of Tell MAMA.
Canon Rachel Mann is an Anglican parish priest, poet and scholar. She writes across a wide field of subjects, including sexuality, gender, poetry and popular culture. Her books include 'Fierce Imaginings’, a study of the myths and rituals embedded in the Great War, and Dazzling Darkness, a theological memoir of growing up trans. In 2019, her book on Christina Rossetti, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter,’ as well as a poetry collection with Carcanet, ‘A Kingdom of Love’ is due to be published. She is a
member of the Church of England’s central theological advisory body, the Faith and Order Commission, as well as a member of General Synod.
Julienne McLean practices as a psychologist, psychotherapist and Jungian analyst in north London, as well as being a spiritual director.She has had a lifelong involvement in the Christian contemplative tradition, with a particular interest in the relationship between modern depth psychology and contemplative prayer. She teaches at St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, London and Sarum College, Salisbury, where she is a Visiting Scholar in Christian Spirituality.
Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and a theologian from Ireland. With interests in conflict, religion and poetry, he lectures, writes, leads retreats and speaks both in Ireland and internationally. From 2014-2019 he was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organisation.
Cannon Rachel Mann Interview.
Rachel has been someone we have thought would make a great speaker at conference for many years... so we thought we would find out a little bit more about her!
> Why did you accept the invitation to conference?
The whole premise of ‘continuing the journey’ is intriguing. It fits into my own theological commitments to the importance of ‘precariousness’ and ‘fragility’ as key concepts for living well in a troublous world. It strikes me that to be in the company of people willing to explore what it means to be human and to be divine in a contingent world is an exciting place to be. And who could not be excited about speaking alongside thinkers and practitioners of the quality of Padraig and Mark?
> What are your first impressions of conference?
I sense that the temporary community which forms through it are people who are searching and inquisitive. This is exciting, stimulating and will certainly challenge my complacency. I’m excited about being with people who are unafraid of exploration and depth and will challenge me deeply.
> 'Here be the dragons..searching for treasure' what first things spring to mind?
As someone who’s loved fantasy fiction most of their life, it’s hard not to think of Tolkien or even J.K Rowling. I love the notion of ‘hic (sunt) dracones’ - ‘here be dragons’, because the phrase signals both danger, risk as well as the promise of treasure, real or imagined. The phrase takes me into liminal or interstitial places, where anything might happen or be possible.
> Do you have experience of venturing into unknown territory?
All of us break new ground all the time. That is, even those of us who live unambitiously encounter situations which are ’novel for us’. I guess my experience as a trans person, where I transitioned from male to female in my early twenties, was an extraordinary and sometimes terrifying step into the unknown. However, I sense it was only a quite intense form of what we all experience in different measures. I also think my experience of chronic illness - I have Crohn’s - has exposed me to the strange, horrible and sometimes wonderful. My journey with God has not been straightforward either. However, I think I may say more about that during the conference!
> What would you like us to know about you before you come to conference?
This might surprise some people who’ve heard me speak, but I’m actually quite shy and introverted. I love to show-off, but I also find it incredibly demanding. I think my love of an audience sometimes gives people the wrong impression about me and I hope that people might take that into account when they meet me in person. I am - behind the sometimes austere academic facade - a very silly person who likes rubbish films and country music. So, please be kind.
And finally, a book review ...
by Brian White of the Planning Group
“The Undefended Leader” by Simon P. Walker published by Piquant Editions.
This book was first published as a trilogy;
Book 1. Leading out of who you are: Discovering the secret of undefended leadership,
Book 2. Leading with nothing to lose: Training in the exercise of power and
Book 3. Leading with everything to give: Lessons from the success and failure of western capitalism.
It begins in book one with a journey of self-exploration undertaken with a view to recognising the factors that have shaped us as people and therefore as leaders. Understanding how we have experienced affirmation and criticism and how we have learned to view the world as a result. Recognising that while no one style of leadership is better than another, our own style impacts others and carries inherent strengths and weaknesses. Understanding who we are is a necessary first step in understanding how we are as leaders. I read the book in partnership with another leader and found the questions at the end of each chapter a helpful place to begin a reflective discussion. I would commend this method to
Having understood the influences that have shaped us and produce to some extent, our way of perceiving the world; book two leads us to examine the various forces leaders exert and to reflect on appropriate use of these forces. Having explored the theory Walker then looks at eight strategies for using power through the examples of eight famous leaders; these include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Jesus of Nazareth. This book concludes with a description of “undefended power”.
Alas at the time of writing this review the final book remains in my future, as I have not yet started on reading this one with my partner. Having completed the first two I heartedly commend this book for anyone involved in leadership of any kind. Simon Walker’s own faith comes through, but the synthesis of psychological insight and leadership research underpin the whole book. It takes the reader not only on a journey of self-discovery but helps one develop a deeper understanding of and greater adaptability in the exercise of leadership for the good of those we lead.
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