Shaping debate on religion in public life.

80th Anniversary Conferences

Re-envisioning the British state in a time of crisis

A Critical Revisiting of the Balliol Connection of Temple, Tawney and Beveridge for the 21st Century

80 years ago, the Beveridge Report set out the ideas which we associate with the Welfare State. Also in 1942, Archbishop William Temple had published his Christianity & Social Order, with a similar manifesto in an appendix. 40 years earlier, Beveridge and Temple had been undergraduates at Balliol, together with R H Tawney, before each lived and worked in Toynbee Hall in London. Each was influenced by the Master, Edward Caird, who was himself associated with the Idealist philosophy of Balliol’s T H Green. Beveridge and Temple were writing, of course, in wartime. As our age grapples with Russia’s war in Ukraine, with the after-effects of the pandemic, with the environmental and cost of living crises, with multiple challenges around equality, diversity and inclusion, and with the breakdown of trust in political leaders, Balliol and the William Temple Foundation are holding a symposium for the 80th anniversary of these publications by William Beveridge and William Temple on The Influence of Idealism & Ideas: did the Balliol ethos of the Victorian and Edwardian eras make a difference to UK society after the Second World War; are there lessons for the 21st century? 

Conference Program

9.30 Registrations/Coffee

10.00 Welcomes and Introduction – Chris Baker (William Temple Foundation and Goldsmiths, University of London)

Panel 1: From Idealism to Realism – The philosophical roots of Welfare State

10.15 Simon Skinner (Balliol, Oxford)

10.45 Stephen Spencer (Anglican Communion Office)

11.15 – 11.45 Coffee

Panel 2: The Welfare State in Context – Historical and Policy Perspectives

11.45 – 12.15 Matthew Grimley (Merton, Oxford)

12.15 – 12.45 Lawrence Goldman (St Peter’s, Oxford)

12.45 – 13.45  Lunch

Panel 3: The State we are in: Contemporary reflections on the Balliol legacy

13.45 – 14.45

Panel response and Q & A : 10 minutes each and 20 mins plenary

  • Maria Power (Blackfriars Hall, Oxford)
  • Tina Hearn (University of Birmingham)
  • Anthony Reddie (Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, Regents Park College, Oxford)
  • Simon Lee (Aston University)

14.45 – 15.05

Pulling the Threads together – themes and trajectories

Professor Chris Baker (Goldsmiths, University of London and William Temple Foundation)

15.15 – 15.30 Tea and Depart

Rebuilding the Public Square

Religious Engagement and the Temple Tradition in Post-Pandemic Britain

15 December 2022

A Conference Hosted by William Temple Foundation, Liverpool Hope University, and Blackburn Cathedral


This conference aims to examine the legacy of William Temple for inter-religious engagement in the public square after the pandemic in Britain. It builds on the William Temple Foundation conference in March 2022 which was held at Canterbury Cathedral to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the publication of Temple’s Christianity and the Social Order. The conference at Canterbury spoke of the Temple tradition as based on various principles; central to these are the following:

  1. The interplay between tradition and reason and its bearing on religious engagement with society
  2. A commitment to a form of natural law/theology in enabling dialogue with others with the aim of developing a more humane social order.
  3. Temple’s ability to grasp the changes of the complex world in which he lived.
  4. A concern for well engaged Christian citizens of the state.

Professor Chris Baker set out the social principles of the public space for Temple as based on ‘freedom, fellowship and service’ and Temple’s understanding of the welfare state which engages what he called ‘the intermediate groupings’. These intermediate groupings are free before the law and work towards a chosen goal to shape their own rationale of fellowship and service for the common good. The welfare state facilitates the flourishing of these local groupings who, in turn, play an intermediate role between individual citizens and the state.

The Blackburn conference will engage with Temple’s legacy of religious engagement in the public square in two ways. First, the historical legacy of Temple’s concern for Jewish Christian dialogue emerging out of the pastoral and ethical imperatives of the Holocaust in World War Two and its shaping of Jewish-Christian relations today. Second, given the local context of Blackburn and the wider East Lancashire, the conference will also focus on the potential legacy of Temple’s religious engagement for Christian-Muslim relationships in today’s pluralised and post-secular context. The questions that will therefore follow from these two points will bring different disciplines in the academy in conversation with local faith leaders and focus on the following:

  1. What would count as intermediate groupings today? (With Muslim communities and Churches in mind among others).
  2. How do we understand and make our localities today? (Blackburn context, with wider implications)
  3. What are the challenges facing Muslim and Christian communities in Britain today and how do they respond to them?

Conference Program

09.00-09.30 Registration Arrival/Coffee

Introduction and Panel 1

  • 09.30-09.45: Welcome and Introductory comments: The Revd Dr Yazid Said
  • 09:45-10:05: William Temple’s legacy for Blackburn and the North: Dr David Shaw
  • 10.05-10.45: William Temple and Jewish Christian relations in Britain: The Revd Steve Williams and Dr Nathan Eddy of the Council of Christians and Jews in Britain.
  • 10-45-11.00: Q&A.

11.00-11.15: Coffee Break

Panel 2: The Post Secular and models of faith communities’ engagement today – with reference to Temple.

  • 11.15-11.30: Professor Chris Baker
  • 11.30-11.50: Dr Matthew Barber-Rowell
  • 11.50-12.10: Professor Mohamed Keshavjee (Institute of Ismaili Studies)

Panel 3: 12.15-13.00: A panel of Muslim and Christian community leaders from Blackburn diocese to join Panel 2 speakers and respond to a set of questions that were shared with them prior to the meeting reflecting on the various themes discussed earlier.

13.00-14.00 Lunch

Panel 4: Current research on faith in the public squareMuslim engagement with the state in Blackburn and beyond

  • 14.00-14.20: Dr Katya Braginskaia
  • 14.20-14.40: Dr Alyaa Ebbiary
  • 14.40-15.00: Dr Shuruq Naguib

Panel 5: Closing Panel with keynote reflective speakers

  • 15.00-15.20: Dr Tim Winter, Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad
  • 15.20-15.40: Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
  • 15.40-16.00: Dr Rowan Williams
  • 16:00-16.30: Q&A

Optional closing visit and tour to the Cathedral followed by Choral Evensong

80th Anniversary Conference of William Temple’s Christianity and Social Order

9.30am – 5.30pm | Saturday 12th March 2022 | Canterbury Lodge, Canterbury Cathedral

The conference will examine the historical and continuing significance of William Temple’s 1942 Christianity and Social Order on the 80th anniversary of its publication. This short work was a key text in the development of the welfare state and Christian social ethics. The conference will seek to examine a series of new themes and issues in relation to Temple’s influential 1942 work and explore its lasting influence. Papers will explore the history and context of the work and new critical themes, such as gender, environment, race and public policy today.

Speakers include: Kenneth Fincham, Simon Lee, Elaine Graham, Jeremy Carrette, Robin Gill, Sanjee Perera, Chris Baker and Stephen Spencer.

This event is jointly organised by the Centre for Anglican History & Theology, University of Kent, and the William Temple Foundation.

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