Cathedral and Diocese Background

Canterbury Diocese has a special place in the life of the Church of England being the first missionary diocese which Augustine founded when he arrived in England in 597 AD. He established his seat or ‘cathedra’ within the Roman city walls and built the first Cathedral there, becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Since that time, there has been a community around the Cathedral offering daily prayer to God and this community is arguably the oldest organisation in the English speaking world. Being the birthplace of Anglicanism, Canterbury forms a focal point for the life of the whole Anglican Communion which looks to the Cathedral as its Mother Church - a spiritual home and a place of pilgrimage.

Canterbury Diocese now encompasses an area often known as East Kent and stretches from Maidstone, the county town of Kent to Thanet, and the Isle of Sheppey to the Romney Marsh. It is bound on three sides by the sea and its 350 miles of coastline is a dominant characteristic of the area. The original historic cinque ports of Dover, Hythe, New Romney and Sandwich together with the seaside resorts of Margate, Broadstairs Ramsgate and Folkestone bear witness to this characteristic. Although there are areas of significant housing development across the diocese there is still a distinctly rural flavour as the County of Kent is still renowned as the ‘Garden of England’ and the former market towns of Faversham and Tenterden are central to this rural heart. Additionally there are very significant areas of deprivation in the Coastal Towns and in rural Kent; variations in these indicators including those for life expectancy, have a range as wide as that for the whole country.

The Christian witness and ministry of the Church of England across this part of Kent is delegated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Bishop of Dover who with effect from the 19th November 2019 will be Bishop Rose Hudson Wilkin - the first female black bishop in the Church of England. Central to the diocese’s mission is its ‘Changed Lives ► Changing Lives’ strategy with its emphasis on a specific outreach to areas of deprivation as well as children and young people. The diocese is already experiencing some growth as a result.

Canterbury Cathedral is first and foremost a place of worship. It is a place of hospitality a centre of pilgrimage, a place for communities to gather in celebration or occasionally sadness. It is also a World Heritage Site, one of the foremost visitor attractions in England. It is the home of a community of people who seek to make the Cathedral a place of welcome, beauty and holiness; the work of the Cathedral is carried out by over 300 paid staff, supported by some 600+ volunteers, who welcome over a million people a year, including 100,000 children who come on school visits. The Cathedral’s mission is: ‘To show people Jesus’. The Cathedral is currently undergoing a large programme of works to repair the fabric, improve facilities for our visitors, and encourage more people to engage with it.

Underpinning both Cathedral and diocese is the desire for safe places for all those who come as visitor or for ministry, through the application of sound safeguarding principles and policies. The role of a new Joint Independent Chair of Safeguarding is therefore a key appointment for our future mission and ministry.

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