Nicholas Holtam has been Bishop of Salisbury since 2011. For the Church of England he is the lead bishop on the environment and chairs a committee for ministry with and among deaf and disabled people. From 1995-2011 Nick was the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields where one of the things he learned is that diverse people are called into God’s kingdom. Because he believes marriage matters he has supported equal marriage and hopes that in time the Church will come to see the goodness of supporting people in a fruitful relationship that is permanent, faithful and stable.

David Monteith has been Dean of Leicester since 2013. During this time the Cathedral has completed the first stage of its redevelopment with the reinternment of King Richard III. In one of Britain’s most multicultural cities, the cathedral offers generous Christian hospitality to all. He has previously served in Birmingham and London, including at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Originally from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland he shares long-term interests in music, poetry and the visual arts with a commitment to living with diversity. He shares his life in a Civil Partnership with David Hamilton.

Sally Hitchiner is the Coordinating Chaplain and Interfaith Adviser for Brunel University London. She is also the founder and MD of Diverse Church a support network for over 700 LGBT Christians in the UK and Ireland. She trained at York and Oxford before spending time as a parish priest in Ealing where she led a large congregation linked to her church’s soup kitchen. She regularly speaks in the national news on issues of faith and current affairs and is a regular newspaper analyst on BBC Breakfast. She recently entered into a Civil Partnership with Fiona.

On 31 October 1517 Martin Luther pinned 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, protesting against the practice of indulgences and touching on questions of grace, repentance and forgiveness.

The Reformation was a culmination of events and circumstances that led to a seismic shift in the religious framework of Britain. It established the image of an island nation, separate and supreme, still resonant today. It triggered a religious and political redistribution of power. It led to renewal and reform but also to deep division, persecution and violence. And out of this turmoil were born concepts of state and church as we know them today.

In this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, many Christians will want to give thanks for its great blessings, including clear proclamation of the gospel of grace, the availability of the Bible to all in their own language, and the recognition of the calling of lay people to serve God in the world and in the church. Yet many will remember also the lasting damage done to the unity of the church. Those turbulent years saw Christians pitted against each other, such that many suffered persecution and even death at the hands of others claiming to know the same Lord. As Christianity spread around the world in the centuries that followed, it would carry with it that legacy of mistrust and competition.

The 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation provides the opportunity to explore and reflect upon issues of church, state, and religious and cultural diversity that are still at the centre of our national life: the conflicts that divide, and the convictions diverse parts of the Christian church hold sacred – the pillars on which their faith stands or falls. How are we called to be reformed by the Gospel? How do we build the unity Christ called for with those whose convictions are very different from our own?

In this autumn lecture series we will be exploring some of these hopes and controversies.