Events - Belfast





Next Meeting - Monday 13th June 2016

"Please note the next OCN Northern Group meeting will be held at St George's Parish Church, High Street, Belfast on Monday 13 June 2016.

Stan Milner will be introducing Culture and the Death of God by Terry Eagleton, published by Yale University Press ISBN 978-0-300-20399-8"

Meeting - Monday 18th May 2015

A OCN meeting was held at St. George's Parish Church, High Street, Belfast on Monday 18th May 2015 commencing at 6:30pm.


We discussed "Christian Beginnings" by Geza Vermes.

The book is published by Penguin ISBN 978-0-141-03799-8

Meeting - Monday 15th April 2013

A Northern OCN meeting was held on Monday April 15th in St. George’s Church, High Street, Belfast at 6.30 pm.

Rev. Chris Hudson of All Soul's Church, Belfast spoke about Unitarianism.

Some of us meet for ameal before the meetings, at 5pm in the Northern Whig, Bridge Street. All Welcome.

Meeting - Monday 21st January 2013

Despite the snow six people came to the OCN North meeting held on January 21st 2013, in St George’s Church, Belfast. William Odling-Smee presented a résumé of The Power of the Parable by John Dominic Crossan (SPCK London 2012: 9780281068111). The first part of this book describes and classifies the Parables of Jesus, and shows how the author thought Jesus used the Parables in his teaching. The second part shows how the four Evangelists used the stories about Jesus to suggest a specific viewpoint about the idea of God and who Jesus was.


Meeting - Monday 19th November 2012

A meeting of the Northern Group was held on Monday 19th November in St George’s, High Street, Belfast at 6.30pm.


William Odling-Smee gave the presentation based on Brian Mountford’s, “Christian atheist – belonging without believing” to a gathering of 10 in St George’s Belfast.

Brian Mountford has worked in Oxford for 25 years as vicar of the University Church and as Fellow of St Hilda’s College. In 2010 he took part in a public discussion with Philip Pulman during which he (Pulman) described himself, somewhat reluctantly as a Christian atheist. To quote him, “I’ve absorbed the Church’s rituals, and enjoy its language, which I knew as a boy, and now it’s gone I miss it.”


The term Christian atheist resonated with Mountford and seemed to cover all those people who value the culture of the church, yet find some of its creedal beliefs difficult, including belief in God. In his book he explores the hinterland between Christianity and atheism, aided by interviews with 10 people struggling with their beliefs.


A lively discussion took place and it was generally agreed that the book makes a valuable contribution to the struggle many people have on the fringes of the church. It was perhaps especially relevant after the presentations given by Geoff Crocker recently on his book “An enlightened philosophy.”

One person said the term “Christian atheist” was at the very least unfortunate. It was not clear which God Mountford claims people do not believe in. Since “Honest to God” people have different, very personal views of God and many would not take kindly to being called atheist.


Mountford is to be congratulated for his sympathetic and welcoming attitude to people struggling with belief, but when asked by a colleague., “Where do I go if I want to join?” he was stumped. He did acknowledge the Sea of Faith movement, but said, “I am interested in a wider and more miscellaneous phenomenon.” There were 2 members of SoF present who thought he would be somewhat hard pressed! Mountford does conclude by asking the churches to fling open their doors and embrace all those on the fringes. Let’s hope this call doesn’t fall on deaf ears.


Meeting - Monday 1st October 2012

Monday 1st October 2012 at 7.30pm St. George’s, High Street, Belfast BT1 2AG Admission free – donations to defray costs welcome.
“Towards a more enlightened faith - can people of different faiths, little faith, or no faith reach a shared understanding?” by Geoff Crocker Author of “An Enlightened Philosophy – can an atheist believe anything?”

See: www.anenlightenedphilosophy.com


Meeting - Monday 21st May 2012

A meeting of the Northern group was held in St. George's, High Street, Belfast on Monday 21st May at 6.30pm. Anne Odling-Smee lead a discussion of Richard Holloway's recently published autobiography - "Leaving Alexandria".

Meeting - Tuesday 31st January 2012

A meeting was held at St George's Parish Church High Street Belfast on Tuesday 31 January 2012 commencing 6.30 pm.

We be discussed the topic 'Life After Death'. We did not decide on any particular book.

Two useful but dated books are
(1) Death and Eternal Life by John Hick
(2) Eternal Life by Hans Kung
and the more recent
(3) Eternal Life : A New Vision by John Shelby Spong published by Harper One (2009) .

They all cover the same ground the Spong book probably being the most accessible.

"Some of us meet for a meal before the meetings, at 5pm in The Northern Whig, Bridge Street. All welcome."

Bill Patterson is the convenor of the Group. He can be contacted at: williampatterson[at]btinternet.com




Annual Lecture 2010

The 2010's Open Christianity lecture was given in Belfast by David Boulton, author of "Who on Earth was Jesus?" . read more .....