Different models of working together

Ecumenical meetings operate in a variety of ways:

• For companionship and mutual support;
• For the sharing of information;
• For the developing of shared strategy - on a particular issue or area of work

The movement between these different modes can be sudden and uncertain, so it is just a case of keeping alert.

It is important to be clear what 'working ecumenically' actually means whenever the phrase is used. There are a number of different models:

  • One church acts as the 'lead church' with the agreement of ecumenical partners. The decision to act as a 'lead church' is not one made unilaterally!
  • Particular churches act together - with others supportive or distanced in a clearly understood way.
  • Churches arrange for their representatives to work jointly in a particular area or project.
  • Churches appoint representatives to a group led by one church.

In all cases:

  • the pattern needs to be agreed,
  • the arrangement for appointing representatives clear,
  • and the procedure for reporting back secure.

A Variety of Meetings

District officers will engage with a variety of ecumenical meetings - Church leaders/representatives, County bodies or the equivalent, LEPs, regional development, regional training partnerships, social issues, in a variety of ways:

Who will attend these meetings and what will be the arrangements for reporting back? Care needs to be taken to ensure this work is shared so that no one person takes on too much whilst conserving consistency in the district's policy and approach.

Media Contacts

Sometimes external factors determine how churches work together e.g. engaging ecumenically with the media.

This is worth discussion at the church leaders/representatives meeting. Having some protocols in place will help, because reporters will often go first to bishops for comments, which can be frustrating for other churches.

Ready access to one another through an email system, set up for this particular purpose is one possibility. Maybe a joint statement is possible if there is time. When the district chair has to make a personal statement - be certain to mention ecumenical colleagues.

When it comes to public occasions and media pictures the district chair may need to take the initiative in including ecumenical representatives. It is worth paying attention to this - good relationships between church leaders send positive messages to local churches and to the wider community.

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