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The Rev Dr Peter Francis.

In The Widening Circle of Us: A Theological Memoir, the Rev Dr Peter Francis charts his own ‘widening’ from a privileged beginning with an unquestioning naïve faith, to a liberal understanding of faith and society.

The book, published by the University of Chester Press, looks back on more than 40 years as an Anglican priest, including nearly 25 years as Warden of Gladstone’s Library, where his ‘widening’ continues with responding to the former prime minister’s legacy of historic slavery in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

Peter, who is also a Visiting Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Theology and received an Hon DD (Honorary Doctor of Divinity) from the University, now believes that Christianity is best viewed as a completely non-supernatural ethic for life. The memoir weaves his personal story alongside his passion for the humanity of Jesus and writes about the battles for inclusion that have shaped his life and ministry.

In a personal, political and theological memoir, he discusses international hard-won freedoms such as LGBTQ+ and women’s rights that are under threat from populist movements and leaders and how Christianity can become a force for justice.

Peter will talk about the book with internationally-bestselling author Sarah Perry (Melmoth, The Essex Serpent) at on online event on Sunday September 12, as part of GladFest, described as the UK’s friendliest literary festival. Tickets cost £5 and can be booked at: https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/events/events-courses-list/gladfest-2021-the-widening-circle-of-us-with-peter-francis-and-sarah-perry.

Peter said: “I wanted to tell my story in order to defend the widening of the circle of us because, for the first time in my life, the circle is constricting in the wake of the rise of right-wing populism. My life is set in an age of struggles for justice and fairness - an era of inclusion rather than exclusion. It is about my developing liberal view of faith and exclusions that I had grown up blissfully unaware of. I have come from a conservative home and schooling both lower case and upper case ‘C’ and shed those often ingrained and insular attitudes in the light of my experience and life choices. It is about my ‘widening’ as well as that of British society.”

Sarah has described the book as “a pleasure, a challenge, very moving, admirably frank and it is often funny in parts too”.

Peter’s ministry began in the West Midlands before moving to London as a university chaplain. From London, he moved to Scotland, where he was Rector of Ayr prior to becoming Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. From Glasgow, he moved to North Wales where, since 1997, he has been Warden of Gladstone’s Library, founded by the Victorian statesman.

For more information on the book and to purchase a copy please visit: https://storefront.chester.ac.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12_14&products_id=1071.

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Theology Religious Studies faith book