If you look up Canterbury, you will find that it is an historic English cathedral city and a UNESCO Heritage site, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a local government district of Kent in the United Kingdom. At the center of Canterbury is a very old Cathedral and the ruins of a monastery.
Canterbury gained importance as a center for Christianity in the late 6th century, when Augustine, a Benedictine monk, was sent by Pope Gregory the Great on a mission to convert the pagans of Kent. However, when he arrived, Augustine discovered that Christianity already had a foothold in the area. Augustine was welcomed by Queen Bertha, the French Christian wife of the Kentish King Aethelbert, and he began to set up monasteries as centers for Christian worship and mission. He was named the first Archbishop of Canterbury in 597, although he had little success in persuading the native Celtic bishops to submit to his authority. His primary legacy was the establishment of a system of monasteries that would spread Christianity throughout the British Isles.
Lovely? Indeed! But what does this sweet little British town have to do with us?
Canterbury Cathedral is the seat of this guy, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
You can find out more about him here. The Archbishop of Canterbury is one focal point for unity for the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a member. The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, comprised of churches in over 165 countries, who are united by worship, tradition, history and the bonds of love, in communion with the See of Canterbury. You can find out more about the Anglican Communion here.
Neat! So, why would a community of college students take on the name Houston Canterbury?
Canterbury represents what our community strives to be:
a faithful, though imperfect, community of disciples of Jesus Christ who are connected by worship, who embrace tradition but are ever open to the way the Holy Spirit is guiding us today, and who are able to deal with great diversity because of our great love for one another. The students, faculty, and staff of the University of Houston come from a tremendous variety of backgrounds and experiences. Houston Canterbury strives to create open space for dialogue and growth, which is enriched by our differences and finds its foundation in our common desire to worship God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.