To provide an opportunity to take stock and take heart amid the unrivalled beauty of the Scottish hills.
To provide a forum for discussion that explores how has the world changed since Alexander Men was murdered and questions what inspiration can be drawn from his fearless example.
Conference organisers Elizabeth Roberts, Ann Shukman and Donald Smith were brought together in the 1990s by book and theatre projects explaining the significance of Alexander Men's life and work to a worldwide audience. Now, on the 22nd anniversary of Men's murder, in the ancient spa town of Moffat, the time seems right to re-visit Men's legacy in the light of change and new challenges to world order.
Co-founder of Moffat Book Events met Fr Alexander Men in 1990 with her younger daughter Elly - who also lives in Moffat with her husband and family - a few weeks before he baptised her elder daughter, Abi. After his murder, she attended the 40th day ceremonies in Moscow, Semkhoz and Novaya Derevnya and thereafter attended many of the annual conferences organised at VGBIL. On one such visit, she was invited to prepare a book about Fr Alexander Christianity for the Twenty-First Century - the Life and Work of Alexander Men with Ann Shukman, SCM Press 1996; ebook 2011. She has also done extensive research into the life, work and historical context of one of Fr Alexander's spiritual children and correspondents, the Russian icon painter Julia Reitlinger (Sister Joanna) 1898-1988, including a paper published in the Proceedings of the conference Aesthetics as a Religious Factor in Eastern and Western Christianity, University of Utrecht 2005. ER is preparing a translation of Sister Joanna's correspondence with Fr Alexander, published in Russian as 'The Wise Sky'.
Other work includes: A Russian Rehearsal - adaptation with director Mark Rozovsky of T.S. Eliot's 'Murder in the Cathedral' in repertory in Moscow at the State Theatre 'At the Nikitsky Gates'; Focus on Russian and the Republics (Evans 1996); the Xenophobe's Guide to the Russians (Ravette 1995); The New Europe (Gloucester 1993) Focus on the Soviet Union (Hamilton 1993); The NATO Letters (Rudomino 1994); Diary of a Young Capitalist (Rudomino 1992); 'Glasnost', the Gorbachev Revolution (Hamish Hamilton, 1989). Translations include: Armenian Tragedy by Yuri Rost (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1992); The Soviet Mafia by Arkady Vaksberg) with John Roberts, Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1993).
Elizabeth Roberts is a member of the Society of Authors
Dr Donald Smith is a storyteller, novelist, playwright and performance poet. He has been Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre since 2001 and of its predecessor, the Netherbow Arts Centre, from 1983.
Behind these roles lies a lifelong commitment to the interface between culture and religion. As a Presbyterian Christian with wide ecumenical involvements in Scotland and beyond, Donald has sought to open up the experiential dimensions of religious traditions as a basis for dialogue and mutual enrichment.
This interest has been reflected in Donald's work as a tutor and part-time lecturer and as the author of a series of articles and books. On the creative front, he has just completed a new novel, Now And At Our Final Breath, about the faith and politics of Mary Queen of Scots.
Donald chaired the Committee which established the National Theatre of Scotland and became a founding Director. He was also first Chair of the Literature Forum for Scotland, and coordinated the Scottish Churches Millennium Programme.
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Two interests have been inspirational through Ann Shukman's life - the history and destiny of Russia and the message of Christianity. Publications on the Russian Church include studies of Metropolitan Sergi Stragorodsky (Religion, State and Society, 2006, Vol.34/1), of Metropolitan Veniamin of Petrograd and Grand Duchess, now St, Elizabeth of Russia (in Cox's Book of Modern Saints and Martyrs, London: Continuum 2006) as well as the Introduction and Notes to Christianity for the Twenty-First Century. She has also translated the fundamental work on St Seraphim of Sarov (Chronicles of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery) which has not yet been published. In the autumn of 1991 she was representative of Keston Institute in Moscow. Doctoral work at Oxford was on the semiotics movement in Soviet Russia and she was for a time Lecturer in the Department of Russian at Birmingham University, later also at Keele University. In the 1980s she left academia for service to the Church of England, becoming Deaconess in 1982, Deacon in 1992 and Priest in 1994. For a time she was Warden of the St Theosevia Centre for Christian Spirituality in Oxford. Since living in Scotland Ann Shukman has written an MPhil for Glasgow University on a stormy period of Scottish Church history (The Fall of Episcopacy in Scotland 1688-91).
Any thinking person interested in contribution of Christianity to arts, sciences, politics and in the importance of Christianity in modern life - clergy; writers and artists; scientists; educators; workers in film, TV & theatre; philosophers; Russianists; laity; and 'quality of life' professionals.
St Andrew's Church, Church Place, Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway, DG10 9ES. Situated on the A701 from the M74 and the south.
Moffat is a perfect small (pop 2,000) town nestled in the hills of Annandale south of Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is a successful bustling town with a range of independent specialist shops. A spa since Merlin's time, Moffat flowered in the 17th and 18th century, hence its magnificent collection of historic coaching inns, cafes, restaurants and shops, and discreet merchants' mansions hidden in the leafy roads above the High St.
For information on hotels and accommodation providers please see Visit Moffat for a detailed list. If you are interested in B&B accommodation at a local Christian Retreat Lochhouse Farm Retreat Centre is located close by in Beattock.