Lectures in Radical Christian Faith

Progressive Christianity: Hope for the Future?

The most recent lecture, in association with Progressive Christianity UK and the final Marcus Borg Memorial Conference, was held on Tuesday 19th October 2021 at 8pm.

There are no plans to host Carrs Lane Lectures this year as we need a volunteer to take on the organisation and liaison.

Speakers in 2021:

Photo of Revd Deshna Shine
Revd Deshna Shine
Ordained Interfaith Minister and Chaplain in USA, published author and International speaker; Former Executive Director of ProgressiveChristianity.org

Bishop Jeremy Greaves
Assistant Bishop of Brisbane in the Anglican Church of Australia; describes himself as a progressive Christian who “lives on the edge of the church”

Watch the recording here:

About the Lectures

Carrs Lane has a long tradition of being on the ‘open’ wing of the Church and in the past has played a prominent part in the development of the Civic Gospel. The Church has a continuing concern for social justice and dialogue between people of different faiths.

The lectures provide a platform for lively debate on liberal and unconventional views and an environment where awkward questions like these can be explored without embarrassment. The lectures have been presented annually since 2000.

Now held on a Saturday in October, generally from 10am-4pm, the lectures have become a significant ’fixture’ in the Birmingham scene for people of religious faith, and none, who are asking questions. The lectures are seen as an important contribution to The Church at Carrs Lane’s mission and ministry.

Past events at Carrs Lane: please scroll down to find podcasts of the 2014-2016 lectures, plus videos of the 2017 lectures.

Past speakers have included Bishops John Shelby Spong, Richard Holloway and Peter Selby; Professors John Hick, John Hull, Grace Jantzen, Michael Taylor, Keith Ward and Graham Ward; Karen Armstrong; Revd Inderjit Bhogal and Clare Short MP.


On Saturday 5 October 2019 we welcomed the Revd Canon Mark Oakley to The Church at Carrs Lane to lead a day of lectures on the theme Faith … the Art of Unease? Mark is a theologian, poet, author, broadcaster, campaigner and inspiring speaker.

Lectures included:

  • The collage of God: faith, doubt and guessing at God
  • Poetry: The native language of faith
  • Are you sitting comfortably? The art of unease and the spiritual life

A CD of the lectures should have been available by the end of November but Chris Avis has been recovering from a nasty accident since the end of October and so editing has been delayed.  He apologises for the delay and hopes to have the work done by the New Year.   Details will appear here when the CD is ready.  So, if you missed Mark on the day or would like to listen again, watch this space!

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If you have a question, please email: clerk@carrslane.co.uk


It was with the greatest regret that we had to cancel the Carrs Lane Lectures’ day on Saturday 6 October 2018.  Sadly Richard Holloway had to clear his diary for the rest of the year on his doctor’s advice.  He apologised profusely for letting us down, hoping that we might be able to reorganise the day but, with only five weeks to go, that did not seem possible.  We were able to reimburse the cost of the tickets for Richard’s Lectures on the topic Believing, Forgiving and Dying: Our Walk Across the Stage.

Lectures 2019 -Photo of the Reverend Canon Mark Oatley


The 2017 Lectures’ weekend took place from 13-15 October with speaker Revd Gretta Vosper, United Church of Canada minister, a-theist and author of With or Without God and Amen, and her musician husband, Scott Kearns.

There were three events over the weekend: an informal evening on Friday:  ‘Atheist Ministry: we are where we are’; a full day on Saturday with two lectures from Gretta and a presentation by Scott: ‘Creating a World Beyond the Beliefs that Divide’; and a service led by Gretta and Scott on Sunday morning at the Unitarian New Meeting, Birmingham. It was an exciting weekend.

Watch the first session on YouTube

Watch the second session on YouTube

Watch the third session on YouTube

Watch the fourth session on YouTube

DVD recording

The DVD recording of the whole weekend is available from Chris Avis at 37 Clifton Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2BN, £15 including p&p.  Cheques payable to C. Avis, please.  Or order via Paypal using chris.avis2@hotmail.com for your payment (no Paypal account needed).

This visit was organised jointly by The Church at Carrs Lane and the Progressive Christianity Network and was supported by The Westhill Endowment.


Bishop Jack Spong (Bishop John Shelby Spong) was unable to present the lectures in 2016 due to illness but gave permission to include his address from 2015, hosted by the Progressive Christianity Network at Holy Trinity Church Windsor. We recommend you watch the videos of his address and Q&A session from that event in 2015 alongside the Carrs Lane Lectures 2016.


Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy

Revd Robert Reiss, Canon Emeritus of Westminster Abbey, Julie Grove and Bishop John Shelby Spong (electronically due to his illness)

Listen to the podcasts on our “Podcast hosting page”

Download lecture 1: Biblical Literalism – a Gentile Heresy, with Julie Grove MBE

Download lecture 2: Historical Scepticism and the Birth Narratives, with Revd Dr Robert Reiss

Download lecture 3: Resurrection – ours and Jesus’, with Revd Dr Robert Reiss

Download the Questions and Answers session

Used with permission of © Chris Avis


Belonging without Believing: Canon Brian Mountford, Vicar of The University Church, Oxford and Revd Dr Harriet Harris, Chaplain at The University of Edinburgh

Download Lecture 1: ‘Christian Atheism’ by Canon Brian Mountford

Download lecture 2: The Tears and Laughter of God, by Revd Dr Harriet Harris

Download the Questions and Answers session

Used with the permission of © Chris Avis


Re-Imaging God: Revd Donald Horsfield and David Boulton

1. Who or What is God? – Donald Horsfield

2. The Trouble with God – David Boulton

3. Tell me the New New Story – David Boulton, with Questions from the floor to the speakers


Towards a Theology that Liberates Theology: Alastair McIntosh

Independent scholar, activist, writer, speaker and broadcaster;


The Church as it could be…for Goodness’ Sake: Revd Adrian Alker

Director of Mission Resourcing in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds;


Rethinking Christian Theology: Paul Knitter, Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary New York and Roger Haight, Scholar in Residence at Union Theological Seminary, New York;

This is for you…

If you have questions like:

Does religion have anything relevant to say to modern society?

What do I really think about faith…what do I believe?

Do I have more questions than answers?

Do I own my own prejudices?

Can I say what I really think?

When (if) I go to church, do I feel I’m expected to leave my brains behind?

COME along!

For more information, contact Julie Grove

0121 643 6151 or email: clerk@carrslane.co.uk