Local Ecumenical Partnerships – documentation

There are two reasons why Local Ecumenical Partnerships need regulation.

  1. It is in styles of worship in particular where the traditions vary. Different practices mean issues such as the authority of ordained ministry come into play and often there are legal constraints of various types.
  2. The intention has never been that LEPs should become new denominations; they are supposed to be of all the participating traditions. Consequently, their governing documents need to be approved by all the participating traditions.

Some would argue the simplified approval process for single congregation partnerships has been at the expense of flexibility. However, churches have a lot of freedom under the new arrangements. The difference is they are now encouraged to focus on what is distinctive, working within a simple standard framework.

This can be illustrated through consideration of the documents that go into a LEP constitution, their scope and degrees of flexibility.

  1. Foundational to any LEP, is the governing documents of the parent churches. The LEP is not meant to supersede these and so they always underlie the other four documents. Examples would be Methodist Standing Orders or the Church of England Canons.
  2. Every LEP needs an Ecumenical Vision Statement. This used to be known as the Declaration of Intent and it is an opportunity for the participating local churches to tell the world why they intend to work together in a LEP.
  3. The Constitution is one of the main governing documents. This is something new and is required by the Charity Commission. It governs the charity itself. So, this document defines the Trustees and their responsibilities.
  4. The second main governing document is the Schedule. This is also new and it governs the LEP. So this section defines the participating churches and how they will collaborate over matters such as worship and ministry.
  5. Finally, any LEP is free to agree local guidelines. So long as these do not contradict the constitution or schedule, and are approved by the Trustees, they can help the LEP determine how it manages its affairs from day to day.

Together these documents help churches agree how they work together.

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