Living God's Future Now - April 2021

'Living God’s Future Now’ is our mini online festival of theology, ideas and practice. 

We’ve developed this in response to the pandemic and our changing world. The church is changing too, and - as we improvise and experiment - we can learn and support each other. 

This is 'Living God’s Future Now’ - talks, workshops and discussion - hosted by HeartEdge. Created to equip, encourage and energise churches - from leaders to volunteers and enquirers - at the heart and on the edge.

The focal event in ‘Living God’s Future Now’ is a monthly conversation where Sam Wells explores what it means to improvise on God’s kingdom with a leading theologian or practitioner.

The online programme includes:

  • Regular weekly workshops: Biblical Studies (Mondays fortnightly), Sermon Preparation (Tuesdays) and Community of Practitioners (Wednesdays)
  • One-off workshops on topics relevant to lockdown such as ‘Growing online communities’ and ‘Grief, Loss & Remembering’
  • Monthly HeartEdge dialogue featuring Sam Wells in conversation with a noted theologian or practitioner

Find earlier Living God’s Future Now sessions at

Regular – Weekly or Fortnightly

Tuesdays: Sermon Preparation Workshop, 16:30 (GMT), livestreamed at  Please note there will be no Sermon Preparation workshop on Tuesday 6 April.

Wednesdays: Community of Practitioners workshop, 16:30 (GMT), Zoom meeting. Email to register.

Fortnightly on Mondays: Biblical Studies class, 19:30-21:00 (GMT), Zoom meeting. Register in advance: 2021 dates - Gospels & Acts:

  • 12 Apr: Lecture 07 Matthew
  • 26 Apr: Lecture 08 Matthew


Stations of the Cross: Thursday 1 April 2021, 16:00 – 17:30 BST. Register for a Zoom invite at Monuments to the Future, Global, 2021, is an exhibition that uses art and reflection to explore the way in which, for people of all faiths and none, the Stations of the Cross speak into issues of injustice. The exhibition takes viewers on a virtual journey around the world. Each station responds to a monument or memorial, reflecting a tumultuous year in which fresh memorials sprung up to grieve the dead and historic monuments to prejudice were toppled and dismantled. In this workshop Revd Dr Catriona Laing, Dr Aaron Rosen and guest artists featured in the exhibition will reflect on the relevance of the Stations of the Cross, the way in which they speak into issues of injustice and the virtues of the physical experience of the first four years versus this year’s online experience. Revd Dr Catriona Laing’s call to the priesthood was influenced by her desire to join those building the Kingdom of God with the poor and marginalized. Her academic interests, which stem from a childhood spent in the Middle East, are in the area of Muslim Christian relations and specifically the role of prayer in deepening inter-faith relations. Before coming to Brussels, she worked in parishes in London and Washington D.C.. In addition to serving St Martha & St Mary’s Anglican Church Leuven, Catriona is Associate Chaplain at Holy Trinity with a particular remit to encourage the chaplaincy’s social justice ministry. Dr. Aaron Rosen is Professor of Religion & Visual Culture and Director of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts & Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary. As director of the Luce Center, he overseas research, teaching, and outreach, as well as exhibitions at the seminary's Dadian Gallery. He is also Visiting Professor at King’s College London, where he was previously Senior Lecturer in Sacred Traditions & the Arts and Deputy Director of the Center for the Arts and the Sacred.

Living God's Future Now conversation - Maggi Dawn: Thursday 8 April, 18:00 – 19:00 BST. Register for a Zoom invite at ‘Living God’s Future Now’ describes a series of online seminars, discussions and presentations hosted by HeartEdge. They are designed to equip, encourage and energise church leaders, laypeople and enquirers alike, in areas such as preaching, growing a church, shifting online, deepening spirituality in a congregation and responding to social need. The focal event in 'Living God's future now' is a monthly conversation in which Sam Wells explores what it means to improvise on God’s kingdom with a leading theologian or practitioner. Earlier conversations were with Walter Brueggemann, John McKnight, Chine McDonald, +Rachel Treweek, Stanley Hauerwas, Barbara Brown Taylor, Kelly Brown Douglas, Steve Chalke, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Sarah Coakley, and Jonathan Tran. At 6.00 pm (GMT) on Thursday 8 April 2021, Sam Wells and Maggi Dawn will be in conversation to discuss how to improvise on the kingdom. The Rev’d Professor Maggi Dawn is Principal, St Mary’s College, Durham University and Professor of Theology, Department of Theology and Religion. Maggi’s first career was in the music industry as a songwriter, guitarist and singer. She recorded five albums under her own name, and was a session player in numerous other bands. Maggi studied Theology at the University of Cambridge in the 1990s, where her PhD research explored S. T. Coleridge’s theological language. Her ongoing research interests are the role of voice and form in the creation of theological meaning, and the role of the arts in theology and liturgy. She began her career in academia as college Chaplain and teaching fellow at the University of Cambridge. She has five books in publication, one of which was quoted in Parliament in 2012 to launch a Private Members Bill. Before coming to Durham she spent eight years as Associate Dean, and Associate Professor of Theology and Literature, at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music.

In the shadow of your wings: Musical Bible study on the Psalms – Thursday 15 April, 4.30 pm (BST), zoom - A unique ecumenical event that combines three new musical interpretations of Psalm 57 with small-group discussion. An interactive online event Presented by Deus Ex Musica in which participants watch pre-recorded live performances of three brand-new vocal settings of a beloved psalm, each of which has been set to music by a composer representing a different Christian tradition. This workshop will look at three settings of Psalm 57. After viewing each set of performances, participants engage in moderated small-group discussions. Since each psalm is set to music by more than one composer, participants hear how different musical responses to the same text bring to life various dimensions of each psalm. This provides a unique and memorable way for participants to experience the depth and beauty of Scripture in ways that promote both learning and discipleship. It also provides a rare opportunity for Christians of all stripes to gather in fellowship and dialogue about something we all agree on: the power and importance of the Bible. No musical experience or expertise is required by any participants. Deus Ex Musica is an ecumenical organization comprised of musicians, educators, and pastors, and scholars, that promotes the use of sacred music as a resource for learning and spiritual growth. Info and headshots about each composer may be found here.

St Martin-in-the-Fields and HeartEdge Theology Reading Group: Sunday 18 April, 18:00 (BST), zoom - Explore and discuss Dante’s The Divine Comedy with Revd Dr Sam Wells, St-Martin-in-the-Fields congregation and HeartEdge partners. Join this journey through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The greatest single work of Western literature???

Building for the Future: A Zoom conference, for all interested parties, to consider strategies for churches and church buildings – Monday 19 April, 15:00 – 16:30 (BST). Some of the questions that many churches have been wrestling with during the pandemic have concerned the implications for the way in which our buildings play a part, for better or for worse, in God’s mission and in local communities and neighbourhoods. The URC Buildings Forum has existed for several years with a focus on these questions and this online conference is intended to be the first of a series that will focus on different aspects of exploring the use of our buildings and capital assets. The General Secretary, John Bradbury, will give a keynote address to guide our thinking about the purposeful and creative use of our premises; the HeartEdge movement, begun by St Martin-in-the-Fields, will share a little about the ways in which they can support you in the use of your buildings, and there will be at least one story of a creative idea that is being put into practice. It will also be an opportunity for conversation in breakout rooms and importantly will be a listening exercise to hear the questions that you have, the challenges that particular churches face and hopefully something of positive ideas and news. This will assist us in planning further conferences. This online event is open to everyone, whether or not you’ve been part of the Forum previously. The meeting will be recorded in speaker view so only those providing input will be recorded. To register please email with ‘Building for the Future’ in the subject line, by April 16th. Along with your name and email address, please tell us which church you belong to or are representing, if appropriate. Login details will be sent a few days before the meeting.

Wizards, Muggle Crust and the Human Purpose of Business – Thursday 22 April, 19:00 (BST), zoom - In our lifetimes the purpose of business is being reformed. The idea that this was, exclusively, to make shareholders wealthier is dying (slowly). In relation to the climate emergency, boardrooms have the language (eg net zero) but need more action. But on the human and social side purpose of business our language is lacking (argues Douglas Board). After Grenfell and similar events we react with outrage: but what can guide us beforehand, capturing the positives of commerce as well as its problems? A thinker and writer on leadership and a coach, Douglas will draw on his book ‘Elites: can you rise to the top without losing your soul?’ to propose that the human purpose of business is to create places (organisations, systems, communities) of extraordinary achievement in which ordinary lives matter. With: Jo Hill, a regulatory director and member of the Gambling Commission; Monisha Shah, a media professional whose current appointments include the Committee on Standards in Public Life; Professor David Grayson CBE, an international thought leader and campaigner on responsible business; Richard Goold, CEO of organisation consultancy Wondrous; and Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Theology Group: Sunday, 25 April 2021, 18:00 – 19:00 BST, zoom - The St Martin-in-the-Fields and HeartEdge Theology Group provides a monthly opportunity to reflect theologically on issues of today and questions of forever with Sam Wells. Each month Sam responds to questions from a member of the congregation of St Martin-in-the-Fields who also chairs the session and encourages your comments and questions.

Back in the Building, Still Online! Monday 26 April, 14:00 – 15:30 BST, zoom - How can we keep it manageable and build community as we return to our buildings but try not to abandon our online connections? With: Eve Powers, Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Manchester; Bill Braviner, Parish Priest of Stockton St Peter & Elton St John, in the Diocese of Durham; Kim Lafferty, Team Vicar in Farnworth, Kearsley and Stoneclough; Cath Duce, Assistant Vicar for Partnership Development working with HeartEdge in London; and Andy Salmon, North West Coordinator for HeartEdge and Rector of Sacred Trinity Church in Salford.

HeartEdge/CEEP transatlantic conversation – Art & the Church calendar: Monday 26 April, 20:00 (GMT). See for more information. This webinar explores ways of engaging artists with churches/congregations using the Church calendar. What might inspire artists in engaging with the patterns that underpin the life of many churches and how might engaging with artists open up understandings of faith in new ways for congregations? Examples of the kind of projects we will explore include initiatives using the visual arts in dialogue with scripture or exhibitions/installations in particular seasons such as Advent or Lent. Fundamentally, though, this webinar seeks explore a range of ideas and approaches and to hear about the benefits both for artists and congregations. Panellists include: Janet Broderick - Rector, All Saints Beverly Hills; Beverly Hills, California; Paul-Gordon Chandler - Bishop, Diocese of Wyoming; Jackson Hole, Wyoming (moderator); Catriona Laing - Chaplain, St. Martha & St. Mary’s Anglican Church Leuven; Associate Chaplain, Holy Trinity Brussels; Brussels, Belgium; Ben Quash - Professor, Christianity and the Arts & Director, Center for Arts and the Sacred, King’s College London; Director, Visual Commentary on Scripture Project; London, United Kingdom; and Aaron Rosen - Professor, Religion and Visual Culture; Director, Henry Luce III Cener for the Arts and Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary; Co-founder, Stations of the Cross Public Art Project; Washington, D.C.

Anglicans in Europe Post-Brexit and the Pandemic: Bishops in Dialogue - Tuesday, 27 April, 14:00 (GMT), zoom - Exploring issues and challenges facing the Anglican Churches in Britain and Ireland, post-Brexit and in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and what the Church’s role now looks like in contributing to God’s reconciling work in the world, in this new context. Alastair McKay (facilitating), Executive Director, Reconciliation Initiatives; Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields; Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford, Church of England; June Osborne, Bishop of Llandaff, Church in Wales; Andrew Swift, Bishop of Brechin, Scottish Episcopal Church; and Patricia Storey, Bishop of Meath & Kildare, Church of Ireland.

Introducing the Visual Commentary on Scripture: Thursday 29 April, 14:00 (BST), zoom - The Visual Commentary on Scripture,, is the first online project to introduce visitors to the entirety of Christian Scripture in the company of art and artists. Celebrated with a launch event in November 2018 at Tate Modern, seeks to connect the worlds of art and religion as a ground-breaking resource for scholars, educators, churches and interested readers looking for insightful, original explorations of art and the Bible. In this talk, Canon Ben Quash, the project’s director, will share some of the challenges and discoveries he has encountered so far in this ambitious undertaking. Ben Quash came to King’s College London as its first Professor of Christianity and the Arts in 2007. Prior to that, he was a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College and then of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity in the University of Cambridge. He is fascinated by how the arts can renew people’s engagement with the Bible and Christian tradition, and is directing a major 7-year project to create an online Visual Commentary on Scripture. He runs an MA in Christianity and the Arts in association with the National Gallery, London, and broadcasts frequently on BBC radio. He is a Trustee of Art and Christianity Enquiry, and Canon Theologian of both Coventry and Bradford Cathedrals. His publications include Abiding: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2013 (Bloomsbury, 2012) and Found Theology: History, Imagination and the Holy Spirit (T&T Clark, 2014), and he has written catalogue essays for exhibitions at Ben Uri Gallery, London, the Inigo Rooms in Somerset House, and the Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015.

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Date published

31st March 2021

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