We see the purpose of SoF not as being an organisation which seeks to describe authoritatively the beliefs appropriate to our time. Rather it is a network of those who wish to become clearer about what it is for them to be more fully human in their situations – a process best achieved within a variety of conversation-like processes conducted within accepting and safe surroundings. The product will not be a code of ethics, but persons living at their edges, works of art their own right.
SOF has no creed. It explores the implications for spiritual, social, educational and ecological issues that arise from embracing the provisional nature of religious insight.
It welcomes people from all faith and humanist communities, and those with no involvement in any organised religion. The membership reflects a range of experiential, intuitive and intellectual concerns.
The Network took its name from a BBC television series The Sea of Faith, presented in 1984 by Don Cupitt, then Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The television series and the accompanying book had in their turn drawn their title from Matthew Arnold's poem of the 1860s, Dover Beach.
Cupitt argued that we should cease to mourn the decay of traditional beliefs. Instead he offered a vision for the future of religious faith as entirely human, centred in spiritual and ethical activity.
This vision prompted an exploratory conference in 1988. Further conferences have been held annually and it was out of these that the Sea of Faith Network emerged. There are local groups spread throughout the country.
These are autonomous bodies, some meeting monthly, some quarterly, some preferring open, unstructured discussion, others organising lectures, workshops and one-day events. Members receive bi-monthly newsletters and magazines, written primarily by the membership.
There are also Sea of Faith networks in New Zealand and Australia.