I was nervous to attend A Light for All. It feels strange to write that, but it is the truth. I’ve spent much of the last four years completing a PhD in Religious Studies. I began my PhD feeling optimistic about Christianity and its role in social justice. I ended feeling jaded and cynical. My PhD coping strategy has been to force a greater separation between what I was studying and my own life, having withdrawn from most aspects of religious life; both collective and personal.
So, I arrived at ‘A Light For All’ having not attended church for a year, my Bible firmly closed and my prayer life stagnant. I was apprehensive, worried that I would feel out of place, not know what to say, that I had started to speak in a different kind of language and that – as a result – I would stand out as not belonging.
Perhaps needless to say, I shouldn’t have worried. ‘A Light For All’ was my first SCM event but I felt welcome and at home straightaway. The day was filled with great people, wonderful food, and some really interesting discussion.
A personal highlight was the session run by Kara, Lancaster University’s Methodist Chaplain. In this interactive session, we wrestled with some difficult Bible passages, considering how to approach and interpret passages we found particularly challenging. There were, of course, no easy answers, but I enjoyed hearing the different perspectives that others at the event contributed. I really appreciated the richness that emerged from this discussion and enjoyed considering different lines of interpretation that I would not have thought about had I been on my own. The session was also a helpful and needed reminder that critical thought and faith go together – with the capacity to enrich each other – rather than being mutually exclusive.
I don’t know what 2018 has in store for me – beyond lots of change and newness – but I hope I can begin to explore my faith again. In particular, I hope to seek out and allow time for, similar spaces of collective and critical engagement. It’s tentative, but it’s a start.