Lecture Series

The monthly St Michael’s Lectures series was founded at the church in 1992. Lectures are free with a voluntary retiring collection; a warm welcome is extended to everyone.

The series explores contemporary issues connected with faith and society, Christianity and our heritage, and are enjoyed by people from many different churches and none.

Please click the coloured bar below to view future lectures, and a list of the previous 10 lectures. Click here for the current poster.

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In April 2014, the St Michael’s Lectures celebrated their 21st Anniversary with the Very Revd Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, speaking on ‘Real Bible Study’ to an audience of 130 people.

The series’ curator, David Beadle, has also run special series of Heritage Lectures here, featuring the history of music and liturgy, architecture and craftsmanship at St Michael’s as part of our HLF Organ Project.

Lectures are given by prominent academics and experts from wide-ranging disciplines, beliefs and backgrounds. Read more about some of our past lecturers featured in the gallery below.

Please contact “Michael Lecture”, the current lectures series team, via our contacts page if you would like to give a lecture or recommend a lecturer.

Image below: The Revd Dr John Hughes (1978-2014)

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Our Lecturers

Peter Owen-Jones

Peter Owen-Jones

Peter Owen-Jones (b 1957) is an English Anglican clergyman, author and television presenter.

Owen Jones dropped out of public school at the age of 16 and went to Australia to make his fortune. Back in Britain, he began his working life as a farm labourer in South Eastern England and then ran a mobile disco before moving to London where he started in advertising as a messenger boy and worked his way up to creative director. In his late 20s and with a wife and two children, he gave up his commercial life to follow a calling to the Anglican ministry by enrolling at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. In early 1996 he gained notoriety when he conducted a service for the Newbury bypass protestors.

Peter Owen-Jones biography
The Revd Dr John Hughes

The Revd Dr John Hughes

Former Curate of this Parish and Dean of Chapel at Jesus College, Cambridge.

Responding to John's tragic death, aged 35, in June 2014, Patrick Comerford writes:

"John Hughes was a student at Westcott House from 2001 to 2005. During that time he completed his PhD at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After studying theology in Cambridge under Professor Janet Soskice and in Oxford under Professor Oliver O’Donovan, he completed his PhD on ‘Theologies of Work’ with Dr Catherine Pickstock and Dr Jeremy Morris, published as The End of Work (Blackwell: 2007). He became a curate in the Diocese of Exeter on leaving Westcott, and he returned to Cambridge in 2009, first as Chaplain in Jesus College and then as Dean of Chapel.

He taught philosophy and ethics, with a particular interest in aesthetics and political thought. He published a paper on the Russian theologian Sergei Bulgakov in Sobornost, and he contributed a chapter in a recent volume on the Crisis of Global Capitalism. He was also working on a project on the role of divine ideas in the doctrine of creation.

At the summer school in Sidney Sussex College in 2011, he said the global financial crisis has brought about a questioning of dominant neo-liberalism, and has raised theological questions about the ultimate ends of the economy. He was speaking on the topic: “Beyond the Secular Market: Christian Social Teaching and the Economic Crisis.”

Dr Hughes has been part of the Radical Orthodoxy movement, which is rooted in the Cambridge theological tradition, and provides a critique of the violence of secular social theories. Its main figures include John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward.

Dr Hughes argued that morning that the free market has long been bound up with secularism, and he set out how Christian theology has responded to this, arguing that the markets need morals.

The market was once seen as the answer to everything and, until the recent crisis, the market was untouchable and went unquestioned. But the crisis has seen a widespread rejection of the myth of a morally neutral free market and of the neoliberal utilitarian fantasy.

Since 2008-2009, it has been recognised that the market is not an end in itself, and a new consensus has emerged, he told us.

Prior to the 2009 summit, Gordon Brown spoke in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, about a society that is free but not laissez faire, pointing out that markets cannot self-regulate but can self-destruct. About the same time, David Cameron had spoken in Davos in 2009 about markets without morality, and capitalism without a conscience, saying the markets are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. Cameron had argued that we need to shape capitalism to suit needs of society.

Looking at the significance of this language, Dr Hughes said the politics of virtue may be on the rise, and that questions that ask what the market is for are quasi-theological questions.

The market is fundamentally cultural, therefore we did not have to end up here. The present crisis was not a natural happening, but was due to specific, ideological decisions, he said."

A response from Malcolm Brown:
"Thank you for this piece. John and I had been working closely on a new book on Anglican Social theology to which he had contributed a characteristically incisive assessment of the newly emerging strands within Anglican social thought. It is particularly poignant that the book arrived from the printer this morning. John was always a joy to work with - with a very rare combination of virtues, having a superb intellect at the same time as being a thoroughly lovable and decent human being - not an inevitable combination even among theologians. He reminded me of the young Rowan Williams and I am sure that, had he lived, he would have made a comparable contribution to the church and to theology.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory."

Malcolm Brown

Prof. John Millbank

Prof. John Millbank

Prominent theologian

Richard W Parker

Richard W Parker

Church Historian, Archaeologist, Cantor and Chapel Warden at St Michael's.

The Right Hon Ben Bradshaw

The Right Hon Ben Bradshaw

Benjamin Peter James Bradshaw, born 30 August 1960, is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Exeter since 1997. He was the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from 2009 to 2010, and before entering politics he worked as a BBC Radio reporter.

Bradshaw is the son of a former Anglican vicar of Norwich Cathedral. Bradshaw was educated at Thorpe Grammar School, followed by the University of Sussex where he read for a degree in German. He also attended the University of Freiburg in Germany during his time at university.

Read more via the link below...

Ben Bradshaw's biography

Sheila Cassidy MD

Sheila Cassidy MD

Prisoner of conscience, popular writer and hospice doctor.

Prof. Grace Davey

Prof. Grace Davey

Major sociologist of religion.

Prof. Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Prof. Francesca Stavrakopoulou

BBC television presenter and Exeter University academic.

Right Rev. Dr Michael Langrish

Right Rev. Dr Michael Langrish

Former Bishop of Exeter.

Nick Dixon

Nick Dixon

Raptor biologist, Peregrine Falcon researcher.