From Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura | Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Lambeth Steering Group
This summer the University will host the Lambeth Conference from 26 July to 8 August. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will convene senior figures from across the worldwide Anglican Communion to join for prayer, reflection, fellowship and dialogue.
The Conference will have international prominence and is expected to attract widespread interest, with our Canterbury campus providing the platform for the Lambeth Conference’s wide-ranging programme of discussion and spiritual reflection on many of the key questions facing society including climate change, sustainable development, international collaboration, poverty, gender justice, and much more.
As a community of learning, our University is a place of debate and discussion. Sometimes that debate is lively, sometimes contentious, and sometimes challenging. Wherever possible we use our position of influence, the insights of our researchers, and the work of our students and staff to bring about progress and positive change.
In this spirit, we warmly welcome the gathering of voices from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and outlooks to the Lambeth Conference and, as a University, we intend to learn from and, where appropriate, add our voice to the discussion of the vital questions under discussion.
Alongside this we are clear that the position of the worldwide Anglican Communion on the place of LGBT+ people within the Church and wider society does not fit with our deeply held values of equality, inclusion, tolerance, and mutual respect. We say that openly and unambiguously.
Hosting the Lambeth Conference on our campus provides an opportunity to promote our fundamental values on an international stage – using this platform to influence debate and ensure unrepresented voices are heard at the conference. However, the Lambeth Conference Steering Group, which I lead, understands the serious and sincere concerns of many in our staff and student body, and we share those concerns. We also hope that there is more to be gained through engagement and dialogue than through disengagement. It is in that spirit of supporting the many people, within and beyond the Church, who are working hard for change that the University agreed to host the Lambeth Conference in 2022.
Ahead of the conference, we are working closely with the organisers, and our LGBTQ+ staff and student networks, to ensure there is a platform for LGBTQ+ voices to be heard ahead of and alongside the event. Through a joint statement of expected behaviours, there is assurance that the conference will be conducted in a way that accords with our fundamental values, ensuring the safety and rights of our community are fully respected. Throughout the process, we will reaffirm our commitment to LGBTQ+ people across the world, promoting the legal and civic safeguards which are required to underpin equality and safety for all, however differently experienced they may be even in our own country.
We are developing, with our LGBTQ+ groups, measures to support and ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and students as well as a programme of activities that in the coming weeks will celebrate and promote equality, diversity and inclusivity and support continued progress towards a world free from prejudice and discrimination. This includes the University’s continued sponsorship and support of Canterbury Pride next week as well as our new sponsorship of Medway Pride later in the summer.
Further information on this full programme of activities will be available in the coming weeks.