About The Sea of Faith in Aotearoa - SOFiA

Why "Sea of Faith"?

The name comes from a phrase in Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach":

    The Sea of Faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore,
    Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
    And naked shingles of the world.

The phrase was used in 1984 as the title of a BBC television documentary series and book by the English theologian Don Cupitt. The book and the television series trace pivotal changes in western science, philosophy and religion over the past 350 years which together call for a radical re-thinking of our faith traditions.
Our Brochure, Ready To Print
Here is a printable pdf copy of the current version of our brochure.

What Does SOFiA Believe?

SOFiA itself has no creed. It draws its members from people of all faiths and also from those with no attachment to religious institutions. It publishes a regular Newsletter, assists in setting up discussion groups, and holds an annual conference.

In New Zealand SOFiA bears a striking resemblance to a group called "Ephesus"

If you are curious as to the content of SOFiA discussions and papers then you might like to take a tour around our archives

SOFiA therefore ...

    AFFIRMS the continuing importance of religious thought and practice as a vehicle for awe and wonder and for the celebration of key social and spiritual values;
    DRAWS freely upon our spiritual heritage without being bound by it;
    PROMOTES the quest for meaning and fulfilment as a human activity;
    PROVIDES encouragement, stimulation and support in fellowship with others engaged in the quest.

The Sea of Faith Network In New Zealand (as it was then known)

The Sea of Faith Network began in 1992 when a newsletter was sent to people who had shown some interest in exploring issues of faith along these lines. It followed the formation of a Sea of Faith Network in Britain in 1989.

These are the major activities undertaken by the national Steering Committee.

Local Groups

Encouragement and practical assistance in setting up Local SOFiA groups around the country to continue the exploration of faith. Under appropriate conditions, the Steering Committee can subsidise travel expenses for visiting speakers.


The annual Conference is a major responsibility of the Steering Committee.

The first New Zealand Conference was held in Hamilton in 1993 and at various locations annually since. Papers from Conferences can be accessed here.


The purpose of the 5-times-a-year Newsletter is to keep members and Local Groups informed about the activities of other Groups and to provide stimulating articles — book reviews, papers etc.  Acces to the current and all back issues can be found here.

Resource Centre

The Resource Centre contains audio CDs and video on DVD which are made available to current members of SOFiA.

Sea of Faith, Worldwide

While there is no formal affiliation between SOFiA (in New Zealand and Australia), and Sea of Faith Networks in the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States, these country networks make up an informal worldwide "network of networks" regularly exchanging newsletter material and, on occasions, guest speakers. In addition, members of an internet discussion group of up to about 100 Sea of Faith members from many countries exchange points of view.

Frequently Asked Questions

This item "Frequently Asked Questions" was prepared by the UK Sea of Faith Network. If provides interesting background information.



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