In 1969, a conference at the Shap Wells Hotel spawned the Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education. ‘Shap’ then is not an acronym (Smart, Hinnells and Parrinder was once floated as an intelligent guess) but the name of the Cumbrian village which in pre-motorway days marked the testing gradient on the route to Scotland, and the nearest hamlet to the location of early meetings of the Working Party.

From its early days Shap has been a forum for religious educators from a variety of educational settings, working together in the cause of open and broadly based approaches to religious education studies. From the start Shap has been a Working Party engaged in organising many conferences for teachers, in producing books and an annual Mailing (consisting of a journal and a calendar of Festivals) and in offering advice to a wide range of people — from publishers and broadcasters to individual pupils doing examination projects. Among the Working Party’s recent publications are Festivals in World Religions (Longman 1986) and The Shap Handbook on World Religions in Education (Commission for Racial Equality 1987) both edited by Alan Brown. The Working Party’s junior offshoot, The Chichester Project, has also published an array of books for pupils on various aspects of Christianity accompanied by a teachers’ book Teaching Christianity: A World Religions Approach (Lutterworth 1988) edited by Clive Erricker. The present volume celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Working Party and draws on contributions to Shap’s journal currently called World Religions in Education. The book is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of the journal’s successive editors and to Angela Wood without whose energy and enthusiasm this book may have remained an interesting idea.

by the Chairman Robert Jackson

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