Steering Group


William Odling-Smee

William has been a surgeon abroad and in Belfast. His father was an Anglican vicar; he himself was ordained an Anglican priest in 1977, and is a member of the non-stipendiary clergy. Studies history of churches and finds it contrasted with the founding message. Thinks we should stop excluding people because they don't believe something.

Anne Odling-Smee

Anne Odling-Smee: has a social science and education background and is a Roman Catholic with Anglican and Methodist forebears- concerned about division and exclusion. Their six children were baptized alternately as RC and Anglican but brought up within both traditions. As adults they practice Christianity but not all are churchgoing. She thinks we need a common spirituality, and is interested in inter-faith contacts. We need to recognise the Spirit in each person.

Andrew Furlong

Andrew Furlong has worked as an Anglican priest in Ireland, Zimbabwe and the UK. Born and educated in Ireland, he looks on himself primarily as a global citizen. An international sportsman, one time film actor and aspiring novelist he is seeking to create a new identity for himself following the charges placed against him for heresy in 2002 which led to his resignation as Dean of Clonmacnoise, Ireland.
He is an active member of Amnesty International. He looks on the religious and humanist traditions of the world as sources of wisdom, justice and spirituality for shaping and re-shaping the spiritual and political vision that challenges him to contribute to the transformation of our world. He supports the UN Millennium Goals and believes that working for gender equality and improved education will enhance the capabilities of more and more people to lead fuller lives. Andrew Furlong holds degrees in Philosophy, Theology and International Peace Studies.

Articles by Andrew Furlong

Astonishing Assumptions Underlie Belief in Atoning Sacrifice The author of Tried for Heresy: A 21st Century Journey of Faith, discusses the "small print" underlying the interpretation of Jesus' death as an atoning sacrifice.... more

Reflections on The Da Vinci Code
An Anglican priest reflects on some fascinating and important questions raised in Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code....

Josh's Confessions
The dangers for Jews and Christians of believing in being divinely chosen. ...

What is Missing in Islam is Modern Theological Insights
All the ancient scriptures, including the Koran, need to be understood as historically-conditioned and culturally-conditioned. Without such an understanding the human rights abuses that their scriptures condone will be still be seen.

Books by Andrew Furlong

Tried for Heresy: A 21st Century Journey of Faith
Furlong's journey of faith is a fascinating, if sad, story of his ordeal confronting the power of the church establishment. But he is in a noble company of those who know that orthodoxy, understood as "right or correct belief," .... more



"Christian theology and Christian ethics contain an inescapable dimension of uncertainty. This uncertainty is trust's shadow. That's essential to acknowledge and live with. Are there not two unprovable convictions central to the Christian tradition?

(1) There is an ineffable reality at the heart of life whose essence is unconditional goodness and love.
(2) The universe is part of a bigger purpose than just itself."
Uncertainty is Trust's shadow(2010)


Andrew Furlong's website Andrew Furlong's website

Bill Patterson

Bill has a Methodist background and is a Methodist local preacher. He was Secretary to the Bangor Council of Churches during the 1980s and has served on the Irish Methodist Church Council on Social Responsibility. He works in the field of employment relations and has particular interests in religious poetry, the theology of work and conflict resolution.

Peter Gibson

Peter Gibson is a retired social worker who lives in Groomsport, County Down. Ten years as a chorister in St.Anne's Cathedral, Belfast in his youth left him with a love of church choral music. He has not been a church member since then. However, he has a long-standing interest in religion as a human creation which can contribute to life, both positively and negatively. He regards Jesus as a first century Jewish man whose challenging teaching about how we should relate to one another can still be relevant today.

Stan Milner

Stan Milner trained as a botanist and forester, and after working in Malawi, Scotland and Yorkshire moved with his wife to Northern Ireland in 1975. Having experienced the Catholic and liberal wings of the Church of England, he found the Church of Ireland tradition somewhat evangelical. He was greatly influenced by Don Cupitt's Sea of Faith TV programme shown in 1984 and became a member of the Sea of Faith in 1998. He helped organise a Sea of Faith Roadshow held at Queens University in 2003. Since 2006 he has been a member OCN. Although he thinks the religious faiths are human constructions, he feels we should all cultivate an enquiring religious outlook and enjoys looking for such insights in poetry. His favourite line from Auden is, "In the prison of his days, teach the free man how to praise".