Keene Lectures 2024

We're delighted to be hosting a special summer term of Keene Lectures at the Cathedral this year with an exciting line-up of guest speakers. 

The Keene Lectures discuss contemporary theological issues and are delivered annually in Chelmsford Cathedral. They take their name from John Henry Keene, a prominent citizen of Chelmsford, in whose memory a fund was established to bring distinguished speakers to Chelmsford for this purpose. 

This year we have a series of five lectures in the summer term, where we have asked theologians and university lecturers to talk about a subject of their choice, something that they feel passionate about. We will listen to talks about how to read Paul’s letters, Bonhoeffer writing from prison, ‘Tarrying’ with God and the wisdom of Black spirituality, the nature of Anglicanism and how a suffering God might provide answers and assurance.

Our lecturers come from St Mellitus College, from Durham University and from the University of Roehampton in London. They are published authors, teachers, supervisors and engaging leaders in their field of research.

Each evening will start at 7.00pm. The talks will last for 40 minutes, there will be a tea break of 20 minutes to submit questions and the evenings will finish at 8.30pm.

  • Tuesday 2nd April - 'All Things Anglican' with Revd Dr Marcus Throup

    The title of Marcus’ lecture is ‘All things Anglican’ and Marcus published an introductory work with this title in 2018. Marcus has a special interest in Global Anglicanism having experienced it over the past twenty five years in South America, Africa, North America and here at home. Recently, as one of a team of global theologians he was involved in the Anglican Communion Office’s ‘Being Anglican’ project, but insists that he is “no expert” on Anglicanism, being keen to learn from others who bring diverse perspectives and particular experiences of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

    Revd Dr Marcus Throup is Centre Director of St Mellitus College London and a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Winchester. Marcus previously spent 15 years in parish ministry and theological education in Brazil where he met and married Tamara, they have two bilingual children and came to the UK in 2016. Before moving to St Mellitus Marcus was Diocesan Director of Ordinands and then led the local training course in the Diocese of Winchester, having previously served briefly at St John’s College, Nottingham following his PhD in New Testament studies. When not preparing lectures or marking assignments Marcus will be found watching football (from Premier League to his son’s junior team!) or casting a line down at the riverbank.  

  • Tuesday 7th May - ‘Bonhoeffer’s strangely joyful prison letters’ with Dr Ashley Cocksworth

    In this lecture, Ashley explores the strangely joyful nature of Bonhoeffer’s letters from Tegel prison. He will show that the letters witness to a complex process of labouring for joy in the midst of and despite the suffering he was experiencing in prison. He will also show that the letters are strangely joyful not only in the sense of the discovery of joy in the unlikely context prison life, but also because they suggest the rather strange idea that there might be a particular form of suffering in the experience of joy itself.

    Dr Ashley Cocksworth is Reader in Theology and Practice at the University of Roehampton. He is the author of several books on prayer and has recently published with David F. Ford a book on glorification as well as with Rachel Muers the fourth edition of The Modern Theologians. He is currently writing a book on joy.

  • Thursday 30th May - 'Still Tarrying: On Faith, Hope and Encounter in a Troubled World' with Dr Selina Stone

    Tarrying invites us to wait and anticipate the action of God and our own, in light of struggle, pain and longing. How does this equip us in a time of increasing inequality, war and violence? In this talk, Dr Selina Stone will expand on themes explored in her Lent book, and the lessons that might support us as we walk with Christ and one another, beyond this season. 

    Dr Selina Stone is a theologian and educator working at Durham University. She is the author of Tarry Awhile: Wisdom from Black Spirituality for People of Faith, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book 2024 and her first academic monograph The Spirit and the Body: Towards a Womanist Pentecostal Social Justice Ethic (Brill, 2023). She is a preacher, host of the Sunday School for Misfits podcast and a proud Brummie.

  • Tuesday 4th June - How to read Paul’s letters. ‘What Paul really thought about the gospel and why it is surprisingly good news’ with Dr Chris Tilling

    Dr Chris Tilling is Graduate Tutor and Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at St Mellitus College.

    Chris’s first book, the critically acclaimedPaul’s Divine Christology (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012), is now republished with multiple endorsements and a new Foreword, by Eerdmans. He supervises PhD students via King’s College London, and is an experienced external examiner of PhDs. He has organised public theology lectures as well as theology conferences, and he enjoys playing golf and chess, now working as editor for a couple of chess publishing houses. He is married to Anja and has two children.

  • Tuesday 18th June - ‘Creation, suffering, and the goodness of God’ with Revd Dr Matthias Grebe

    From his prison cell in 1944, shortly before his execution, Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned the famous words to his friend Eberhard Bethge that ‘only a suffering God can help’. How are we to make sense of this? And how can a suffering God help? Suffering is often seen as the ‘stumbling block’ for the belief in the existence of God, let alone a good God. This talk attempts to address some of these pastoral questions and will argue, following Bonhoeffer, that only the suffering God can provide answers and assurance.

    Revd Dr Matthias Grebe is Centre Lead for St Mellitus College, Chelmsford and Lecturer and Tutor at St Mellitus College, London. Prior to this, Matthias held a senior research fellowship at the University of Bonn, Germany, where he worked on a project on theodicy and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Matthias undertook doctoral work on Karl Barth under the supervision of Prof. David Ford at the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge. His revised PhD thesis is published under Election, Atonement, and the Holy Spirit (2014).