Entitled Guardian or Gatekeeper? Faith in the Public Space and the Role of the Church: Combining the task of relating to our neighbours of all faiths and none with a civic profile......... the Dean introduced the topic by saying how much his thinking on the topic chimed with the speech given by Her Majesty the Queen at an inter faith gathering marking the beginning of her Jubilee year.
Explaining how previous experience in Bradford and recent sabbatical travels had led to his own refelctions he unpacked aspects of the title; what sort of Guardian, what sort of Gatekeeper - welcoming access provider or bouncer for the Christian faith?; How are we defining faith and what do we mean when we say church or Church. The lecture went on to explore issues of vision, identity and shared experience as Church of England and with a broader definition of church in mind.
He suggested three key tasks for the church:- Serve the whole community; Building a strong identity for people of all faiths in order to enable strong relationships with the other; Help other faith groups to be shaped by encounter with the Gospel.
He concluded by saying "Let us work together to enable the Church to be the right kind of gatekeeper, not driven by power and control but working to protect the vulnerable and open up the doors of life to those excluded and unjustly treated. For at the end of the day, the Church will get no favours: we will win followers for Christ, not by right, but by loving service and by guarding a challenging gospel where the challenge begins with us."
The full text of the lecture can be read and downloaded here ; the whole text of the Queen's speech is included as a footnote. A podcast of the event is available here.