Every English Cathedral is preparing to decamp to Manchester next week for the first national cathedrals conference, Sacred Space.
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.
The conference, entitled Sacred Space: Common Ground, organised by the Association of English Cathedrals, will take place from Monday 17 September to Thursday 20th in Manchester Cathedral. Funding from Allchurches Trust is enabling the widest possible participation from cathedrals, with bursaries provided to those who are less resourced.
The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield who chairs the Association of English Cathedrals said:
“It has been a long cherished ambition of mine to bring together all our cathedrals under one roof and to create a stimulating and engaging environment in which we can all grow together in confidence, trust and in the faith that makes us One Body in Christ.
“Every cathedral is different; yet we are all institutions and businesses charged with upkeep and funding; we all provide a focus for the Bishop’s ministry and a place of identity for our dioceses; we are all places of pilgrimage, heritage and discovery; centres of mission and service.
“But above all, we bring a unique sense of place to our locations; a visible, welcoming, accessible place that enables our communities, our cities and beyond, to flourish and grow,” he added.
Every English Cathedral – plus cathedrals from the Isle of Man, Wales, Scotland, South Africa and Australia – is represented at the conference with 490 delegates, including clerical and senior lay staff together with representatives from the cathedrals’ governance structures.
The main conference speakers have now been confirmed and include Sheffield Mayor, Dan Jarvis; Chine Macdonald, head of engagement for Christian Aid; Nick Spencer of think-tank, Theos; journalist and political economist, Will Hutton; First Estates Commissioner, Loretta Minghella; Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Dame Fiona Reynolds; Professor of Islamic and Interreligious studies, Mona Siddique; former director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sandy Nairne; Labour life peer, Baroness Maeve Sherlock; Jimmy Dale who spearheads youth evangelism for the Church of England and newly appointed Third Estates Commissioner, Dr Eve Poole, who will also facilitate the conference.
There will be a video message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, an address by the Archbishop of York, and a wide range of preachers and spiritual leaders from across the traditions, including preacher and writer, Fr Timothy Radcliffe; and Fr Michael Lapsley, the South African priest and social justice campaigner maimed in a letter bomb attack while living in exile in Zimbabwe.
Sacred Space: Common Ground is the first national cathedrals conference in this country and will run from Sept 17 – 21.