Ecumenical Notes are a resource especially for Ecumenical Officers – National, County and Denominational. They can lighten the burden and reduce the bureaucracy of local ecumenical engagement.
They include Constitutional Guidelines for Local Ecumenical Partnerships which help in forming one and notes on various other topics. The Constitutional Guidelines are the result of long, hard and detailed work by the Churches’ Group for Local Unity and have been approved by the member Churches of Churches Together in England. The other Notes are a collation of documents which the staff of Churches Together in England and other colleagues consider will be useful to have altogether in one place.
Different documents have different status – some are approved by the Churches’ Group for Local Unity, some are official denominational documents with ecumenical import, some have the authority of having been tried and tested. We have indicated the status of each document.
Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs)
They include the Definition and 6 Categories of LEP and model constitutions for a Single Congregation LEP and for Congregations in Covenanted Partnership. There is information about Shared Building Partnerships and the remaining kinds of LEP with examples of Education, Prison and Health Care Chaplaincies.
LEPs are normally reviewed from time to time so that their achievements can be celebrated and their fruit shared with the wider Church. Resources to help in this are the Guidelines, which can also be purchased in printed form, guidance on visiting ecumenical situations, a paper which originated in West Yorkshire and a collection of papers called The Art of Review.
General Papers on LEPs
The main book on LEPs is Travelling Together by Elizabeth Welch and Flora Winfield which can be purchased here. Together in Ministry is a leaflet about being a minister in an LEP. There is a description of the LEP Register, which can also be accessed through this website, and Guidance on the appointment of ministers in Covenant Partnership LEPs. For the recognition of ministers of other Churches, there are papers from the Church of England, Baptist Union, United Reformed and Methodist Churches. There are papers from the Church of England on Housing and Finance in LEPs and on the Induction of ministers to an LEP from the Group for Local Unity (GLU) and the United Reformed Church (URC). There are guidelines on Worship in an LEP and specific issues where Baptists are in partnership with the Methodist and United Reformed Churches. Papers from the United Reformed Church show their Expectations in an LEP, a Checklist for a shared building and their agreement with the Baptist Union on Baptism in LEPs. There is a paper on Health Care Chaplaincy and one on the Nomination of Health Care Chaplains.
Churches often share their buildings in formal or informal ways. Sharers, Guests or Tenants is a report on the ways in which historic churches share their buildings with new congregations, many of which are formed by people who have recently arrived in Britain. Formal sharing is usually with a Sharing Agreement under the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1969. Churches to which the Act currently applies are listed and there is information on how shared Listed Buildings may be exempt from some regulations and how they must be regularly inspected. There is particular information on sharing buildings from the Baptist Union, the Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches.
Single Church in a Village
In many villages there is only one place of worship although the congregation may include people of many Christian traditions. Since a formal LEP is not possible, Churches have devised a Declaration of Ecumenical Welcome and Commitment. There are versions of this from the Church of England, the Baptist Union, the Methodist, Roman Catholic and United Reformed Churches. There are also papers from the Baptist Union, the Roman Catholic and United Reformed Churches on responding to these welcomes.
Local Ecumenism Generally
There are many other ways in which different churches work together in their locality. Together Locally is a book about Churches Together groups by Jenny Carpenter which can be ordered here. Other useful books are Sharing our Spiritual Treasures and A Harmony of Church Finance (purchase here). Together Instead of Separately is a leaflet about writing an Ecumenical Vision Statement which is needed when forming a LEP and useful in other ways. There are ecumenical Guidelines for methods of administration of Holy Communion and the disposal of remaining Eucharistic Elements and papers on Worship at Ecumenical Occasions, one by Revd Sheila Maxey, Chaplain to the 1997 CTE Forum, and one from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham. There are papers on Including Disabled People in your events, Charity Registration, Insurance, Marriage Preparation and a paper from Manchester on Local Covenants. The 2002 Consultation on LEPs led to a paper Towards a Vision for local ecumenical living and the Group for Local Unity has produced a Draft Constitution for Local Churches Together groups. Other papers are May my husband ever receive Holy Communion with me? from the National Board of Catholic Women and A guide to all things ecumenical from the Salvation Army.
Together in a Common Life
After the celebration of the new millennium, attention was focussed on what it means for Christians to be Together in a Common Life (Acts 2.42). Papers reflect on the experience of 2000, explore the theology and apply it to prayer, young people, scripture, the Churches of Europe, ministry and making decisions.
Intermediate and Regional Bodies
Intermediate Ecumenical Instruments operate Between the National and Local, usually covering an English County or a Metropolitan area. There are papers on how they may be reviewed and their rôle in supporting LEPs. The Churches also relate to the 9 Government Regions and have a place in responding to civil emergencies. There are papers about the appointment of County Ecumenical Officers (guidelines, conditions of service, contract, job description and application form) and of Denominational or Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Reformed Church).
Further resources are Useful Addresses and websites, distinctions between CTBI and CTE, handling Records and Archives, useful literature, an ABC of Ecuspeak, extracts from Churches Together in Pilgrimage (the 'marigold' book), Charta Oecumenica, Charity Registration and Data Protection and Setting up a Website.
For information on inter faith relations please look at the publications from Churches Together in England and many other resources which are available here. If you find any mistakes in Ecumenical Notes or have additions to suggest, please write to John Bradley.