This Conference is now firmly established and continues to grow. Between 18 and 20 June, well over 150 delegates from both the state and private sectors, lay and ordained, attended Liverpool Hope University for this unique Conference offering. As before, this Conference was jointly hosted by Woodard with SCALA (the School Chaplains and Leaders Association), and the National Society of the Church of England. This year we were delighted to be joined by TISCA (The Independent Schools Christian Alliance) and the Jesuit Schools. This is practical ecumenism focused around the Christian education of our young, and the building of the kingdom of God.
Keynote speakers included Father Timothy Radcliffe OP, Professor Linda Woodhead, the broadcaster Mr Roger Bolton, and the CEO of Christian Aid, Ms Loretta Minghella OBE. The Conference also received an overview of the state of Christian education from Revd Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer of the Church of England, and Mr Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Services. The theatre company, Ten Ten, treated us to three powerful short plays in a session after dinner. The Rt Revd John Arnold, Catholic Bishop of Salford, presided and preached at the Opening Liturgy and the Anglican Bishop of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales) presided at the Conference Eucharist. Pupils from St Edward’s College, Liverpool, participated in these liturgies.
The Conference also saw a number of firsts: the launch of Revd Dr John Caperon’s book A Vital Ministry Chaplaincy in Schools in the Post-Christian era; the launch of Values, Christian Values and Schools by Revd Gordon Parry Director of SCALA; the launch of Chaplaincy Central www.chaplaincycentral.co.uk, a web based resource for Chaplains in school ministry; and the sponsorship of the Prayer Book Society, The Tablet, Gresham Books, Wind Sand and Stars, the Church of England Newspaper and The Church Times. Canon Brendan Clover, Senior Provost of Woodard Schools said “There is no doubt that we have raised, and are raising the profile of Christian ministry in schools to the extent that this Conference is now a force to be reckoned with.”