Christian Controversies at Chester Cathedral.

To celebrate RE month and as a contribution to Biblefresh year, on Wednesday 30th March, Chester & Stoke-on-Trent Methodist District and Chester Cathedral jointly hosted a conference for GCSE and A’ Level. Almost 200 students from six diverse Cheshire schools were welcomed to the Cathedral by Canon Jane Brooke and with refreshments in the stunning Cathedral cloisters, before settling into the South Transept for the keynote address.

The Revd Joanna Jepson (the first chaplain of The London School of Fashion) spoke passionately to the students about abortion rights and the position of women in society, both historically when the law was passed and currently in Britain (the European country with the highest abortion rate). Joanna raised many points to challenge the textbook scenarios and preconceptions of the students, including abortion after rape and the aborting of foetuses on medical grounds. 

A’ Level students from all the attending schools worked together during the day, in break out discussion following The Revd Joanna’s input and in seminar sessions. The seminar topics were: business ethics led by Methodist Professor David Clough; atheism and religious language led by Dr Tony Moodie, Principal of Hartley Victoria Methodist Training College (HVC); and homosexuality, discussing the legal conflict between the human rights of faith adherents and individuals in civil partnerships, led by Dr Paul Middleton of Chester University and Chester Cathedral. 

Meanwhile GSCE students discussed The Revd Joanna’s speech in school-based groups, before joining with other schools to participate in seminars focusing on: Marriage led by The Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt, Lecturer at HVC; how to make moral choices led by Carl Dodd, Regional Youth co-ordinator for the Methodist Church; crime and conversion led by The Revd Billy McCurrie, Baptist Minister in Ormskirk. 

The conference supported students’ revision, in theology, ethics, philosophy and RE, for their forthcoming GCSE, AS and A’ Level examinations.

Chaplains from two local Church of England high schools, alongside the Chester Schools Christian Worker and students from Keele University, offered students a chance to pray, be still and reflect on what they had heard in the Cathedral during their lunch break. 

The organisers - Heather Staniland, District Development Enabler and Nicola Preston, Education Officer at Chester Cathedral would like to extend warmest thanks to all contributing speakers, teachers, chaplains and students for their input to a successful and engaging event.

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