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Finalists chosen for Theology Slam 2022

07 July 2022

THE final of Theology Slam 2022 — a competition to find engaging young voices who think theologically about the contemporary world — will feature talks on work, the body, recovery, and justice.

Four finalists have been chosen to take part in a live final, to be held on 27 September, as part of the HeartEdge conference, “Humbler Church, Bigger God”, in Manchester.

Theology Slam is organised jointly by the Church Times, SCM Press, and, for the first time this year, HeartEdge (News, 1 March).

The competition was open to anyone, lay or ordained, between the ages of 18 to 35. Applicants were asked to write 500 words on one of seven contemporary issues: Work, Body, Grace, Justice, Space, The Virtual, Recovery.

Alongside the 500 words, applicants were also asked to submit a 90-second video, introducing who they were and why they were interested in the topic.

The finalists are:

  • Stephanie Addenbrooke, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford. Her talk will be on the theme of “work”, reflecting on her experience of prolonged sickness while working as an associate youth pastor, and asking “how the Church might respond to a culture obsessed with productivity”. 

  • Alex Clare-YoungAlex Clare-Young, a pioneer minister in the United Reformed Church, currently serving in Cambridge, who is in the final stages of submitting a thesis for a Ph.D. in queer theologies at the University of Birmingham. Alex’s talk will be on the topic of “body”. “As a trans non-binary person, I am painfully aware that our lives are often reduced to objects of debate,” Alex Clare-Young says. “Our voices must be heard beyond debating our existence because we have lots to contribute to wider understandings of theology and anthropology.” 

  • Amanda HigginAmanda Higgin, who is in her second year of training as a Baptist minister at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, alongside working towards a Master’s degree in New Testament theology, with a focus on the Letter to the Hebrews. Her talk will be on the topic of “recovery”. “I was forced to suspend my studies in 2022 to recover from mental illness, which caused me to reflect on how Hebrews’ model of preaching to a traumatised community might help to lead people like me to recover new life from our familiar traditions,” she says.

  • Victoria TurnerVictoria Turner, who is in the final stages of her Ph.D. in World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh, where she is exploring developments in Christian mission. She is a member of the United Reformed Church and has published on youth, class, and ecumenism. “My interest in justice stems from my working-class background and exploration of World Christianity and liberation theology,” she says. “I’ve participated in and taught peace-making courses and believe justice the core of our discipleship and mission.”

The finalists’ talks will be judged on the night by a panel of theologians: Professor Anthony G. Reddie, director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture; Canon Rachel Mann, writer and Area Dean of Bury and Rossendale, in Manchester diocese; Prebendary Isabelle Hamley, Secretary for Ecumenical Relations and Theology and Theological Adviser to the House of Bishops; and the Revd Dr Sam Wells, writer, Canon Theologian of Guildford Cathedral, and Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London.

The winner will receive £250 to spend at Church House Bookshop, and the Theology Slam trophy; the winning talk will be published in the Church Times.

The talks will be filmed and made available on YouTube and social media.


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