Christian students from across the UK have been gathering in the Midlands for a weekend exploring the relevance of their faith to contemporary issues, with a special focus on gender and sexuality.
The event forms the annual conference of the Student Christian Movement (SCM), which this year takes the theme Liberating Gender. It is being held at the Pioneer Centre in Kidderminster.
Prominent speakers include the feminist Catholic theologian Tina Beattie as well as Sarah Jones, who made headlines when she was “outed” as transgender shortly after her ordination in the Church of England. There will be a range of workshops, on issues ranging from sex trafficking to masculinity to 'queer theology'.
SCM is keen to emphasise that its theme is “not just about how we view ourselves and others, but about the impact of gender constructs on a whole range of issues including education, health, spirituality and relationships”.
Participants have been promised a rhythm of regular prayer and worship, opportunities to join campaigns related to the issues under discussion and the chance to network with students from across the country.
SCM is Britain’s oldest organisation of Christian students, having been established in 1889. It seeks to promote Christianity that is inclusive, aware, radical and challenging.
Its patrons are Kathy Galloway (leader of the Iona Community in Scotland), Michael Taylor (development specialist, and former head of Christian Aid) and Anglican bishop John Saxbee.
The largest student Christian network remains the evangelical Christian Unions affiliated to UCCF. There are also many denominational and faith chaplaincies.
This week a network for humanist, atheist and secularist student societies has been launched, adding to the wide mix of belief-based groups on Britain's campuses.
More information on SCM and its conference at www.movement.org.uk