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Hope hosts inaugural international ecumenical conference

Delegates at the Hope Ecumenical Network Symposium stand together on the Rector's Lawn at Liverpool Hope University.

Leading figures from Christian universities around the world considered the future of Christian higher education at the first-ever Hope Ecumenical Network Symposium.

Hosted by Liverpool Hope University, the two-day conference aimed to inspire collaboration between key stakeholders within the sector.

Liverpool Hope is Europe’s only ecumenical university foundation and, with higher education becoming increasingly secularised, the event was designed to instigate a dialogue that will help scholars and practitioners work together to understand shared faith experiences and good professional practice.

Hope for the Future of Christian HE: Faith, Cooperation and Lived Experience included insights and reflections offered by leaders in Christian higher education and also involved ecumenical Christian worship, open debates, panel discussions and the opportunity to visit Liverpool’s Metropolitan and Anglican cathedrals.

Organised by the Founding Directors of the Hope Ecumenical Network - Dr Wendy Bignold and Dr Anthony Ridge-Newman - the conference included an opening and closing address from the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Professor Gerald Pillay.

“The conference was an important opportunity for Hope and our global Christian partners to come together in fellowship and identify ways in which we can support our students and staff, promoting cooperation and compassion as we face significant global challenges together,” explained Dr Bignold, Associate Dean (International) at Liverpool Hope.

With representatives from universities in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia, the conference included two keynote speakers from Michigan-based institutions.

Dr Gerald Griffin, Provost at Hope College, delivered Deep in the Middle: Christian Higher Education – Contemporary Challenges, whilst Dr Shirley Roels, INCHE Director at Calvin University, discussed what lies ahead in a talk entitled Future of Christian HE.

“This was an excellent conference on Christian higher education,” said The Revd Dr Jeremy Law, Dean of Chapel at Canterbury Christ Church University.

“It gathered together a fascinating group of voices and perspectives and also combined input with plenty of space for discussion and worship.

“The excursion into Liverpool was an excellent addition. I had not visited Hope Street with its two cathedrals before and found that very inspiring.”

Dr Ridge-Newman, Associate Professor in Media and Communication at Hope, added: “One of the key senses following the conference is that Christian higher education institutions are strengthened through ecumenical cooperation.

“The work of the network and conference has initiated a great deal of interest in further cooperation.

“Some forthcoming initiatives include a research collaboration on ecumenism and good practice in Christian HE, and an international community of practice to consider themes in Christian HE and teaching pedagogy.”

The Hope Ecumenical Network is for all those associated with the University who have an interest in Christian higher education and who are committed to the values of inclusivity, ecumenism (cooperation) and working together across Christian denominations and educational interests.

Anyone with an interest in supporting the mission and values of inclusive Christian higher education is welcome to participate, including those from other faith backgrounds.

To receive Hope Ecumenical Network communications and be part of the network, please email hopeecumenical@hope.ac.uk.

Check out the full gallery of photos from the conference.


Published on 16/11/2022