Who we are
Founded in 597 by St Augustine, Canterbury Diocese is the oldest diocese in England and has a special place in the life of the national and worldwide Church. With its iconic Cathedral it forms a focal point for the life of the whole Anglican Communion, offering a spiritual home and place of pilgrimage for people from every nation and walk of life.
Kent is the ‘Garden of England’ and this rural heart is core to our identity - yet the communities we serve are very diverse. Our Diocese stretches from Maidstone to Thanet, from the Isle of Sheppey to the Romney Marsh. We have 350 miles of coastline with historic ports and seaside resorts, alongside rural communities, market towns and commuter-belt urban developments. Affluent areas often sit alongside pockets of major deprivation, offering an exciting and challenging mission context.
Where we’re heading
At the heart of all we do is a vision of transformation for ourselves and our communities: no one can encounter God and remain unchanged.
In our diocese, we want to increasingly become a Christian community transformed through encounter with Christ, overflowing to transform and bless the families, homes and communities we serve in Kent: Changed Lives → Changing Lives.
We have spent much time reflecting on who we are as a people of God and where he is calling us to be in the future. After listening to our parishes and deaneries and discernment in our synod, we have summed this up into 3 bold outcomes for 2030.
Our Diocesan Bishop is the Rt Revd & Most Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archbishop Justin has many national and international responsibilities, but his ministry as a bishop is rooted in the city of Canterbury as ‘pastor of the cathedral and metropolitical church of Christ Canterbury.’ As our diocesan bishop, Archbishop Justin is the ‘metropolitan’ bishop of the whole of the ecclesiastical ‘province’ of Canterbury: that is, the 30 diocesan sees of southern England and the Diocese in Europe. He has been the Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013 and has three main priorities for his ministry – Evangelism and Witness; Prayer and the Renewal of Religious life; and Reconciliation.
Archbishop Justin is supported in his diocesan ministry by the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin. As Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury, Bishop Rose is responsible for the day-to-day running and leadership of Canterbury Diocese. She has four priorities for her ministry in our diocese:
- Bible reading
Canterbury Cathedral is a place of worship, a place to meet, a sanctuary, a haven, a celebration, a place of joy and occasionally sadness - but most of all it is alive with the people who make the Cathedral what it is today. The Cathedral’s mission is: “To show people Jesus”. Find out more about Canterbury Cathedral.
Structure of the Church of England
The Church of England is organised into two provinces; each led by an archbishop (Canterbury for the Southern Province and York for the Northern).
Each province is made up of dioceses. There are 42 dioceses, each divided into parishes. The parish is the heart of the Church of England. Each parish is overseen by a parish priest (usually called a Vicar or Rector). From ancient times through to today, they, and their bishop, are responsible for the ‘cure of souls’ in their parish. That includes everyone. And this explains why parish priests are so involved with the key issues and problems affecting the whole community.
His Majesty the King is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. He appoints its archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister. The two archbishops and 24 senior bishops sit in the House of Lords, making a major contribution to Parliament’s work.
The Church of England is episcopally led (by Archbishops, Diocesan, Suffragan and Assistant Bishops) and synodically governed. The General Synod is elected from the laity and clergy of each diocese and meets in London or York at least twice annually to consider legislation for the good of the Church.