9:30 am - 10:30 am


We are delighted to have new UUCB member, Dr. Dave Belden, presenting to Personal Theology.  This 2024 final presentation for Personal Theology is so informative. Dave’s wealth of real world experience in restorative justice will be riveting.

The title of his talk is, “So then, how do we change the world? My journey from the Oxford Group via the Left and the UUs to Restorative Justice.”

David Belden acquired a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford in order to understand the cultic religious movement he was raised in: the Oxford Group (from which Alcoholics Anonymous emerged in the 1930s).

By the time Dave was born in 1949, it had renamed itself Moral Rearmament (MRA). He was raised in its communal HQ in London. At 18 he worked with it in India for six months and grew passionate about ending global poverty.

MRA promised that it was the only effective way to change the world. After giving it his utmost for five years Dave gave up on it and joined the opposite team: the secular Left, which made a similar promise. He and his group launched Campaign Coffee, the first fair trade commodity in Britain, to highlight the exploitation of the global coffee trade.

At age 32, burnt out on movements and organizations of any kind, right or left, religious or secular, in some serious despair, he fortuitously met and married an American, Debi Clifford, and emigrated to the US to marry her.

He went solo as a writer of feminist science fiction, carpenter, adjunct professor, and business writer. The first community to draw him out of his loner existence was the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills. That led to the Network of Spiritual Progressives and a job as managing editor of Tikkun magazine in Berkeley (Tikkun Olam means to heal and repair the world in Hebrew). Since leaving Tikkun in 2011 he has dedicated himself to restorative justice.