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Offa House Residential Conference, 13-15 April 2011: Feedback

I thought that the Conference was one of the best I have attended, and kept very much alive by the wide-ranging variety of the papers given. From the Hanoverian Parish, and its neo-Aminianism, to Stalin’s persecution of the Kulaks (via African independence issues and a journalist’s murder in the Greece of the 1870s), was quite a tour de force. Neither was research into the modern issues of to-day’s neo-atheism missing. Keep it going, please!
                                                                                                      John Bradley

This was my first residential conference with CHF and I greatly appreciated it and the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Refreshment to the spirit and stimulation to the mind. But my "to read" list is now even longer than ever.
                                                                                                      Terry Barringer

An excellent conference - high quality papers, friendly company, comfortable venue.
                                                                                                       Robert Strivens

The Offa House conference this year was splendid! It was my first visit and I found it thrilling to meet scholars who were thoroughly informed and engaged in the ethical, political and social challenges of our day. It was also encouraging that they are practicing Christians.
                                                                                                  
Elizabeth M. Williams

It was great to have four women among the speakers (may that encourage even more female participation in future!); be inspired by colleagues' innovative research; and refresh our sense of vocation.
                                                                                                     Deborah Gaitksill

Jefferey Turner has written a longer report on the Conference


The CHF met for its annual residential conference at Offa House in the attractive village of Offchurch near Leamington Spa. The subject range was impressive.   Mark Smith’s paper analysed eighteenth century High Church theology - the explanation for its opposition to Methodism as both doctrinally and socially subversive.   Elizabeth Williams related the British Black Community’s active opposition to Apartheid set in the context of its own struggle for civic equality.


Three papers were about ill-remembered movements which seemed of massive importance to contemporaries.  Giles Udy related the Reverend Arthur Gough’s Christian Protest Movement against the Soviet use of slave labour in the timber trade to Britain (1929-31) and the complicity of the British government in its continuance. David Killingray showed how the death of the Reverend John Ogle’s son in Thessaly led to the Greek Committee (1878-1897).   John Maiden argued that Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ unjustified fear of Roman Catholicism was the ground of his anti-ecumenism.   It lay behind his address to the EA Conference in Central Hall, Westminster, in 1966, which provoked John Stott’s defence of Evangelical participation in mainstream denominations and split English Evangelicalism.  


Debbie Gaitskell gave us an excellent account of ‘Methodist Mission and Globalisation’.  Frog Orr-Ewing showed how missionary methods and relationships transformed English parishes.  Terry Barringer discussed the response of churches and missions to the “Wind of Change” in 1960.  Young Hwi demonstrated that pro-slavery tracts from 1730-1779 revealed the growth of anti-slavery sentiment. Robert Strivens dealt with the relationship of Old Dissent (1730-50) to Evangelicalism.


Speakers challenged popular myths.  Jeanne Buchanan discussed the belief that Protestants were persecuted during La Violencia in Colombia (1948-58).  In fact 78 Protestants died out of the c200,000 deaths in a civil war.  John Wolffe’s paper on the AHRC project disproved the saying that “in the old days everybody went to Church” - in 1851 only 37% of Londoners were worshippers.   Dominic Erdozain challenged the idea that ‘the Enlightenment’ was a secular enterprise.  Later he quoted from Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart which demolished the belief that Christianity replaced a benevolent, intellectually vibrant, Graeco-Roman paganism.


Overall, the papers were a stimulating and interesting mixture.   There were also times of devotion, opportunities to have a walk or explore Warwick, and many opportunities for continuing conversations during the various breaks or over a drink in the excellent local at the end of the day.