National Cathedrals Conference – 16th May 2022

It’s one week to go to the launch of the second National Cathedrals Conference in Newcastle where over 330 delegates will come together under one roof to debate and consider the three key themes of social, racial and climate justice and ask how the Church can speak into these key challenges and opportunities.

330 delegates, 18 speakers, 7 workshops: 1 week to go – National Cathedrals Conference

The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH will deliver the keynote speech on the opening day of the conference focusing on the role and responsibilities of the Church in our national life against the backdrop of Brexit and Covid and other current challenges.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell will close the conference with a final keynote address in which he will knit together the conference themes and ask: How do we talk to England.

And the Labour peer, Lord Andrew Adonis, who currently chairs the European Movement and served in both the Blair and Brown administrations, will ask delegates to consider if there is space in our current political climate for ethical politics, and if so, what role the Church can play.

They are all part of a packed and varied programme of talks, workshops, learning and debate around the key themes for this four-day conference, entitled Different Country Different Church, held in Newcastle Cathedral from Monday 16 May until Thursday 19 May.

All the Conference news here.

Speakers on climate justice include the lead bishop for the environment, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, the Christian conservation charity, A Rocha, leading Christian environmentalist, Lorna Gold and Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at Cambridge University.

Social justice will be explored by the papal biographer and writer, Austen Ivereigh, Mark Russell, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, Anne Richards, part of the Church of England’s Faith and Public Life department, and Selina Stone, speaker and consultant on theology and social justice.

And racial justice will be explored by scholar activist, Prof Robert Beckford, Sharon Prentis, a Mary Seacole scholar for her interfaith work, and writer and broadcaster, Fr Azariah France-Williams, author of Ghost Ship.

There will be debate and action planning following each of these topics and an afternoon of workshops that will explore these strands further with insights on trauma theory, welcoming back visitors, and implementing racial inclusion.

The Church Commissioners will deliver a session on the new Cathedrals Measure before the conference is closed by the Archbishop of York, who following his keynote address, will lead delegates in the final Eucharist of the conference.

The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, the chair of the Association of English Cathedrals and National Cathedrals Conference lead, said:

“Our cathedrals have weathered difficult and turbulent times in the past. And we will again – but only through collaboration.

“This conference gives us the opportunity to gather together, take breath after these last two years, and work on a strategic vision which will steer the future direction of our cathedrals in the wake of the pandemic across these key narratives of social, racial and climate change.

“We will ask ourselves: how do we serve a world that has become increasingly isolated from religion and still plant the seeds of our mission,’ he added.

There is a website dedicated to the conference here.

Sunday Worship on R4 this Sunday morning at 8.10 am will come from the conference’s host cathedral, Newcastle Cathedral and is called Celebrate the City.

Newcastle Cathedral was chosen specifically to host the second National Cathedrals Conference because of its £6m Lottery funded development project, Common Ground in Sacred Space, which was undertaken to re-establish the Cathedral as a dynamic community hub and a key attraction in its city centre.

It has put inclusivity and social justice at the heart of its mission and ministry and woven it into the very fabric of its building – including its café which is run by the Oswin Project which works with ex-offenders to help them find work, through mentoring training and other opportunities.

Listen here.