The nature of marriage in the context of the Church has scarcely been more topical, so academics from the University of Chester are leading a thought-provoking exploration of its current and potential position.
The Past, Present, and Future of Christian Marriage will be discussed at an Open Forum at Chester Cathedral on Saturday, October 22.
The panel event, which includes Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first member of Church of England clergy to marry his same-sex partner, is part of a Church of England funded project, Sexuality and Anglican Identities.
It has been organised by two academics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester, Dr Paul Middleton, senior lecturer in New Testament and Early Christianity, and Dr Jessica Keady, researcher in Biblical Studies and Gender.
Project lead Dr Middleton said: “This is the first of our two Open Forums, which seek to engage academic and Church communities in conversations relating to sexuality in the Church of England, and to help explain to the general public why these discussions are so controversial for the Church. Obviously issues around marriage and sexuality are particularly pertinent in the Church today, especially with the introduction of same-sex marriage.
“Our first Forum looks at the relationship between the institution of marriage and the Church in the past and present, as well as imagining how that relationship might develop in the future.”
Joining Canon Pemberton on the panel are: Dr Ben Wood, a visiting lecturer at the University of Chester, and a Quaker; the Rev Sarah Jones, the first transgendered priest in the Church of England; and Dr Ben Fulford, senior lecturer in Christian Theology at the University of Chester.
Project coordinator, Dr Jessica Keady, said: “We are delighted to welcome such a distinguished group of experts to facilitate a discussion on such an important issue for the Church. The panel brings together a wealth of personal experience and scholarship.
“We hope there will be a lively, constructive and respectful conversation that will help think through ways in which the Church might respond to the changing face of marriage, setting us up for our second Forum in February, which will look at possible future directions for Church discussions on sexuality.”
The Past, Present, and Future of Christian Marriage takes place in Chester Cathedral on Saturday, October 22 from 1pm to 4pm. The event is open to the public and admission is free.