About the Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Cathedral is both a holy place and part of a World Heritage Site, and remains one of the most visited places in the UK with over 1 million visitors each year.
A place of worship for more than 1,400 years, the Cathedral is first and foremost a working, living church and community, offering a warm welcome to all visitors, groups and individuals. People from across the world feel a huge connection to this place and hold Canterbury in special regard. It is a place of worship, a place to meet, a sanctuary, a haven, a celebration, a place of joy and occasionally sadness, but most of all it is alive with the people who make the Cathedral what it is today.
Canterbury Cathedral fulfils a multitude of different roles and people work or visit here for a whole host of reasons, but key to releasing its potential is a commitment to the flourishing of the whole community through collaborative leadership supported by good governance and effective management.
Canterbury Cathedral is experiencing a period of significant change in its governance and leadership, as well as adapting to a changed financial and social landscape caused by the COVID pandemic. As the Cathedral transitions into the legislative framework of the Cathedrals Measure 2021, we are recruiting new non-executive Chapter members and ensuring new committees and management arrangements work effectively within the governance structure of the Cathedral.
In October 2022, the ‘Canterbury Journey’, a £33 million project, will be completed. Its legacy will have a huge impact on the Cathedral, both the conservation of the historic building, and the missional outreach to the community. There has been a great deal of work and effort from all Cathedral departments to ensure the ‘Canterbury Journey’ is a success. As the ‘Canterbury Journey’ Board and management team completes the final stages of the project, we are working to ensure its legacy continues to benefit the life and mission of the church.
As the world emerges from the COVID pandemic, the Cathedral faces significant financial challenges and an uncertain economic landscape. We have received significant government support in the form of grants and loans to enable us to continue our operational activity and mission during this period. The strategic direction of the Cathedral within this context presents opportunities and challenges as we seek to support the Chapter in the ongoing life of the Cathedral.
The mission statement of the Cathedral is ‘to show people Jesus’ inspired by the account in John’s gospel where visitors from far away coming to the temple in Jerusalem say to one of the disciples ‘We wish to see Jesus’. This is a deliberately wide and inclusive statement and it acts as a guide to our prayer life and a benchmark for our actions.
Canterbury Diocese is the oldest diocese in England, stretching from Maidstone to Thanet, the Isle of Sheppey to the Romney Marsh. It comprises 350 miles of coastline with historic ports and seaside resorts, alongside rural communities, market towns and commuter-belt urban developments. Affluent areas often sit alongside pockets of major deprivation, offering an exciting and challenging mission context.
Canterbury has had a strong tradition of welcoming refugees, since large numbers of Huguenots came to the city in the sixteenth century. Indeed, the Cathedral's Huguenot Chapel is still a place of regular active worship. The commitment to welcoming refugees is strong in the Diocese and led by a Refugee Officer. Canterbury is also a thriving university city whose population more than doubles during term time. This population includes international students and large numbers of students from other parts of the UK who contribute considerably to the cultural diversity of the city. The Cathedral has strong links with the universities, for example, hosting degree ceremonies regularly. There is a strong LGBTQ+ community in Canterbury (Canterbury Pride is the largest annual celebration in Kent) which the diocese supports in many ways including through the work of its recently commissioned LGBT+ chaplains.
At the heart of all that the Diocese does is a vision of transformation for themselves and their communities: no one can encounter God and remain unchanged. In the Diocese of Canterbury, they want to increasingly become a Christian community transformed through encounter with Christ, growing and overflowing to transform and bless the families, homes and communities they serve: Changed Lives, Changing Lives.
A word from Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover
"Changed Lives Changing Lives is what first drew me to Canterbury Diocese. I saw in these words and the strategy underpinning it, not just a tagline, but a commitment and a passion - a passion for allowing ourselves to be transformed by God's loving grace so that we might, in turn, transform our world for his glory.
The past two years have been challenging (to say the least) for our Church, for our nation and for our world. The Coronavirus pandemic has turned the spotlight on our priorities and insecurities, challenging our desire to find a way back to ‘normal’ to ‘the way things used to be’, to ‘the way we’ve always done it’. But we can’t go backwards – and we mustn’t. Instead, God is calling us to a better way, a better future.
In the midst of all the harsh realities of Covid-19, this has been a 'kairos moment', an amazing opportunity for us as God’s Church to listen to God, and to one another, more clearly. An opportunity for us to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into a place of renewal and growth. Many of us have gained new skills, discovering the ways in which technology can enable us to engage with many who might otherwise never have entered our buildings. As we emerge into a changed world, let us grab this moment, let us commit to continue to grow and learn and be shaped into the diocesan family that God is calling us to be. Let our lives continue to be changed, so that we can bring God’s transformation to the lives of others across our county. And let us be clear that a flourishing and sustainable future for our Church means growth - growth in discipleship, growth in confidence and growth in numbers.
In the Towards a Flourishing and Sustainable Future report, you will see that this process has not been ‘top down’. We began with an intentional period of listening throughout the autumn of 2020 (you can explore what emerged from that process here). Then, throughout that winter we worked with our deaneries, parishes and diocesan team to draw up plans for this next stage of our life together. As I have reflected on this process, I have seen some exciting themes emerging.
I see the passion that our people have for evangelism and discipleship, for breaking down the boundaries between lay and ordained, for equipping all God’s people to step into their vocation. I see the desire for us to engage more openly and intentionally with this amazing generation of children and young people, to find new and better ways to reflect the generosity of God in our own living and serving and giving. I see our longing to change not only lives but our world as we strive for justice and peace and as we seek to care for this amazing world that we have been given. I also see the sacrificial willingness to ask and answer the hard questions that are facing us – and it is perhaps this courage that I am most thankful for. I am so grateful to all those who have worked so hard to grapple with these challenging and difficult issues - especially to our amazing area deans and lay chairs - and to those who have engaged in our discussions so openly at parish and diocesan levels.
Our vision signals a beginning, not a destination. Together we are embarking on a journey to create the kind of culture that will enable us to build a flourishing and sustainable future for our Church. We will be driven by our commitment to seeking God in prayer and scripture. Our journey will be marked by our openness to one another and to the Spirit and by our trust in the God who is bigger than pandemics, who is stronger than financial constraints - and who has plans for us that are greater than we could possibly imagine or hope for.
My prayers are with you as you consider whether you are called to join us on this adventure as the next Dean of our Cathedral Church."