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Welby endorses new competition to find young theological communicators

27 September 2018

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has endorsed a new competition to find engaging young voices who think theologically about the contemporary world.

The competition, “Theology Slam”, is organised jointly by the Church Times, SCM Press, the Community of St Anselm, and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC).

It is open to anyone, lay or ordained, between the ages of 18 to 30, and consists of two rounds.

In the first round, applicants are asked to write 500 words on one of 12 contemporary issues, which include Theology and Mental Health; Theology and Artificial Intelligence; and Theology and Political Tribalism (the full list and judging criteria can be found at www.churchtimes.co.uk/theology-slam). Alongside the 500 words, applicants are also asked to submit a 90-second video, introducing who they are, and why they are interested in the topic. The deadline for submissions is 11.59 p.m. on 7 December.

Three entrants will be chosen to take part in the Theology Slam Final on 7 March 2019, at the LICC, in central London, where they will deliver talks of between seven and ten minutes, based on the 500-word entry. Each finalist will have been given a half-day training session on public speaking before the final, free of charge.

The three talks will be judged on the night by a panel that consists of Dr Eve Poole, the Third Church Estates Commissioner and theologian; Professor John Swinton, the winner of the 2016 Michael Ramsey Prize; Mark Greene, the director of the LICC; and the Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The winner will receive a collection of books worth up to £200, and his or her 500-word entry will be published in the Church Times.

Archbishop Welby, said: “All of us are theologians. The minute we say something about God, we are speaking theology. Young voices, unheard voices, need to be nurtured in the practice of reflecting on faith and the wider world, and this event will do just that. I encourage applications, and look forward to reading the winning entries.”

David Shervington, the Senior Commissioning Editor at SCM Press, said: “My hope for the competition is that it will encourage Christian young adults, whether they have studied theology for years or haven’t touched it since school, that if they are thinking about God and applying that thinking into their everyday lives they are already doing theology. My hope is that Theology Slam might in some way change people’s thinking about what theology is, and
broaden all of our thinking about the kinds of things that can come within its scope.

“But we also wanted to make this about communicating those theological ideas well — hence part of the challenge is to put together and delivering a short, sharp, provocative talk on a chosen topic. We’re really looking forward to seeing some creative and interesting entries coming in. When the whole thing reaches its culmination in March, and we have our three shortlisted finalists, I think we’re going to be in for a really special evening.”

The Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley said: “I am thoroughly looking forward to discovering new voices, seeing the world through fresh eyes and being challenged anew to discern a Christian perspective on some of the great questions of our times. An exciting event to come!”

Nell Goddard, Writer at LICC, said: “Here at LICC we’re excited to be hosting an event which encourages people to explore the implications of theology for everyday life – something that we are especially passionate about. Personally, I’m excited to hear the reflections and insights of my peers on some of the big topics of today, and hope that this will pave the way for a wider discussion with fresh voices and talented communicators of this generation.”

For more information, and to apply, visit www.churchtimes.co.uk/theology-slam, or email questions to theologyslam@hymnsam.co.uk.

Listen to David Shervington talk about Theology Slam on the Church Times Podcast: 

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

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