Writer, Publisher, and Speaker
Interested in the future of religion, progressive Christianity, and leadership values
My Memoir, 'Church Going Gone - a biography of religion, doubt, and faith' will be published on 29 October.
Available NOW to pre-order on Amazon
'In this colourful memoir, from 1950’s childhood to the COVID crisis, Brian Mountford describes his life as a priest, which has spanned a period of immense social change and seen the secularisation of Britain to the point where 52% of the population say they have ‘no religion’. Opening with a vibrant account of London in the Sixties, he moves to Cambridge college life in the Seventies, Suburbia in the Eighties, and thirty years as Vicar of the ‘most visited parish church in England’, the University Church, Oxford. Rich in humour and anecdote, he unpacks his liberal theological ideas on the way, addressing questions such as God, the meaning of life, sexual ethics, and the relationship between doubt and faith. A central idea is that the abandonment of organised religion has not eradicated spiritual questioning and, following Philip Larkin’s poem Church Going, from which the book takes its title, people of all ages are forever ‘surprising/A hunger in (themselves) to be more serious. Both the story and the essay content will fascinate many, many more people thatn actually go to church.'
What people are saying about 'Church Going Gone'
CHURCH GOING GONE is the work of a man of great goodness, considerable stubbornness, and and not a little cunning. How can a person of liberal, humane, and imaginative instincts survive in the modern Church of England? Brian Mountford has not only survived, but for thirty years had the living of St Mary’s, the University Church in Oxford, the site of events of enormous consequence such as the trial of the Oxford Martyrs in 1555, and the centre of a busy and intellectually challenging modern parish. In the course of his life as a priest Mountford aroused enormous admiration not only for his liberal stance but also for his personal qualities of kindness and open-mindedness, and for the imaginative (and occasionally provocative) way in which he welcomed speakers from many different traditions to his church. All his qualities are vividly present in this book, as well as a lively gift for scene-setting and character-drawing. I enjoyed it enormously.
Sarah Lloyd MD of BBC's QI
Brian Mountford senses our deep hunger to have answers to the big questions; part of his deeply liberal, protesting faith is to encourage us all to keep on asking.
Professor Jane Shaw, Principal of Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford
Brian Mountford has written a witty and captivating memoir. He brilliantly evokes the utterly different world of the Church of England in the late sixties and, through the story of his own ministry, offers a fascinating - and sobering - perspective on the sea changes that the Church has undergone over the past fifty years.
John Simpson, English foreign correspondent and world affairs editor of BBC News
This charming and deeply insightful book is a real pleasure to read, and has the power to make its readers rethink their most basic beliefs.
Griselda Heppel, Children's Author
I’ve just finished Church Going Gone and enjoyed it immensely. How life has changed even - oh gosh one hopes - within the church! Your thunderclap of an opening is a stroke of genius; for a moment I wondered if you were channelling one of those BBC clergy sitcoms of the 1970s, in which by a series of hilarious mishaps, the poor, respectable curate is denounced for wild sexual shenanigans… but to find that’s exactly what happened to you, thanks to your filthy-minded vicar, beggars belief. And then you forgave the rotter, decades later, when he apologised - which I know is what we’re meant to do - but I’d have found it hard, considering what he put you through at the time.
You write beautifully, giving a valuable insight into a clergyman’s life and the inscrutable (actually, a bit of open scrutiny is much to be desired), partial, archaic structure of the C of E, while your own enlightened, creative, generous, all-embracing interpretation of liberal Christianity shines through. This is such an unusual memoir for all these reasons.
'Religion and Generation Z
- why seventy per cent of young people say they have no religion'.
Essays by Oxford students on why 70% of their age group has 'no religion'. Subjects include: loss of certainty, culture shift, science, being brought up Muslim, feminism, Catholicism, music, the environment, and the future of religion. This gives a platform to voices not normally heard.
In 2017 NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey published statistics that 53% of the people in Britain say they have ‘no religion’ and that of those 70% of the 18-24 age- group claim to have no religion. This collection of essays by Oxford graduate and undergraduate students attempts to say why. The essays are individual responses rather than a systematic examination of the question. Atheist, Agnostic, Irish, Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim views are represented.
The purpose was to explain a social trend but, in the process of writing, several of the contributors have, as if by chance, produced material which is richly meditative that can be read both for information and as spiritual reflection.
The Editor, Brian Mountford, is concerned that, within church and religious circles, the religious views of the young are often discussed by older clergy and writers but rarely heard first hand. This book is a partial remedy. Mountford has written opening and closing essays, introducing the topic and finally asking what future there is for religion.
I am Publisher-at-Large for John Hunt Publishing's Christian Alternative imprint and looking for books that take a radical look at Christianity.
I'm also a public speaker on a range of subjects in the area of ethics, contemporary religion, and leadership, but especially on the 'problems of belief in a secular age'.
I give seminars on leadership. I'm an experienced conference facilitator covering liberal arts topics.
I am a Supernumerary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford.