The Student Christian Movement held its annual conference this weekend in Manchester, and the theme was 'seeds of liberation' - based on a similar gathering held 40 years ago. Some of the participants of that first conference were there - Bruce Kent from CND, John and Grace Vincent from the Urban Theology Unit.
The conference was superb - with speakers from environmental groups, peace organisations and those generally concerned with the common good. I particularly enjoyed hearing Raj, a Dalit liberation theologian from India, who reminded us that we will always be required to be continually sowing the seeds of liberation as part of our continued discipleship.
The overwhelming feeling I had of the weekend was one of hope. I met so many young folk who represented the vibrant future of the church. Thinking, and acting, they demonstrate that there is hope for Christianity in the UK. They represent hope that our faith can be inclusive and creative amid the conservatism and bureaucracy of much of the institutional church.
During one of the sessions I was leading, we all decided to cut it short and join the anti-fascist demo in Manchester central. The English Defence League were having their 'national rally' in the city centre. The students wanted to do something, not just be in a workshop about doing something! I loved the spontaneity of these people, it really impressed me.
One of the participants of the conference 40 years ago eventually turned out to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Who knows.... a future leader of the Anglican church may well have helped us drive the EDL out of Manchester this weekend! Now there is hope for you!