Sunday worship on BBC Radio 4 is live from Lichfield Cathedral ahead of the first National Cathedrals Conference Sacred Space: Common Ground.
It is led by the Dean of Lichfield and Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber whose ambition it has been to gather every English cathedral together under one roof for some time.
And the preacher is Becky Clark, Director of the Church Buildings division for the Church of England who will explore how the ministry of cathedrals contributes to the life of the church and the nation.
The conference, entitled Sacred Space: Common Ground will see 490 delegates gather in Manchester Cathedral for the four day event which starts on Monday.
Funding from Allchurches Trust has enabling the widest possible participation from cathedrals, with bursaries provided to those who are less resourced and every English Cathedral is represented – as well as cathedrals from Wales, Ireland, South Africa and even Australia.
This will be the first time that cathedral clergy, lay staff and chapter and council members will all gather under one roof to discuss and facilitate development of a strategic vision for the future direction of cathedrals through four days of keynote speakers, spiritual leaders and workshops.
Said Dean Adrian:
“Tomorrow, through to Thursday, cathedral staff from all over England, together with representatives from other parts of the Anglican Communion will be gathering in Manchester for the first ever National Cathedrals’ Conference called ‘Sacred Space: Common Ground’.
“We’ll be thinking about the role and contribution cathedrals play in the life of the church and nation. Every cathedral is a visible sign of the church. They range in style, history and architecture: from the vastness of St Paul’s to the dignified cosiness of Bradford, but each meant to be a place where bishops gather their people, and each in its own right is a centre of worship and mission. We are places of immense historical interest. Between 10 and 11 million people visit English cathedrals each year.”
In her sermon, Becky, who has visited every cathedral in the UK and advises everyone to do the same, will say:
“Cathedrals occupy and represent, like the Church as a whole, the space that God’s love in Christ makes possible. They carry this out in a variety of ways: servant ministries to the homeless and long-term unemployed; public ministries to traumatised and bereaved people as we saw last year after the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.
“They offer dialogue about great matters of ethics, and public policy; they sustain lively patterns of visitor and educational engagement, reaching out to millions each year.
“They are, as the Archbishop of Canterbury once said, safe places to do risky things in Christ’s service.
Best of all, day by day, they offer access to everyone.”
It is the start of a week of morning worship on Radio 4 from the conference – with contributions during the week from the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison; Priest, theologian and academic, Dr Simon Oliver, and Third Estates Commissioner Dr Eve Poole.
Come back here to read Becky’s sermon in full after the service.
You can listen again here.