Local Ecumenical Partnerships - Methodist Church procedure

Type 1: Single Congregation Partnerships
 

The details of the approvals procedure for Single Congregation Partnerships can be found on the Churches Together in England website

When a Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP) is ready for a new constitution (either because it is a new LEP or needs to revise its constitution) the first step is to contact the County Ecumenical Officer (CEO). The CEO is responsible for new constitutions and is able to delegate this role for a particular LEP to some other person. A District Ecumenical Officer, for example, already working with a LEP, could offer to oversee this as a part of their work, but it could equally be a member of the LEP (or the CEO). 

 Please note the following points:

  1. Please work from documents provided by your CEO or their delegated person.  The documents are likely to be constantly updated on the website and so you should always be sure you are working from the current version of the model. 
  2. The document on the website headed 'Information', is a proforma for use with the LEP. This can be used to collect the information required to adapt the model constitution for a particular LEP. Once this form is completed, the work on the constitution is a simple desk job.
  3. The document 'approvals form' is a proforma to guide you through the approvals process.  Add the details of who needs to approve the constitution. As each approval comes in, the date received should be noted on the form and a copy of the approval filed. The completed document needs to be circulated with the final version of the constitution to all who approved it and others noted on the form.
  4. Remember, the District approves both the constitution and the principle of the LEP.
  5. The final stage is to ensure the approved LEP is reported to Methodist Conference. So, it is vital that approved constitutions and completed approvals forms are forwarded to the Connexional Ecumenical Officer.

Guidelines for the use of the Synods in designating single congregation local ecumenical partnerships (SCLEPs) (Pdf)

Type 2 and Types 4 - 6

Experience has shown that the approval process can be made relatively short by following two golden rules.

  • First, do not attempt to write your own constitution without reference to one of the model constitutions. (Here there is a generic type 2 model constitution and also a Methodist / Church of England version.) These model constitutions have been approved by the main denominations and a draft constitution based on a model is much more likely to be approved by the participating denominations first time round. Contact the Connexional Ecumenical Officer for details.
  • Second, ask one local person to oversee the approvals process and keep track of which version is current. It is confusing when there are several versions at different stages of the approval process, and this can lead to denominations approving the wrong version.

It is always helpful to keep the CEO informed of developments.

Normally, a LEP constitution has two parts, the Declaration of Intent (the new Model incorporates a similar document called the Ecumenical Vision Statement) and the constitution itself. Both need to be approved and they can be approved separately or together. Sometimes the Declaration of Intent may be approved in advance if there are outstanding technical issues, to demonstrate the commitment of the parent denominations to the development of the LEP. However, there is no LEP until the constitution has also been approved and the completed process has been registered with CTE.

For Methodist approvals:

  1. Approval by the Church Council
  2. Approval by the Circuit Meeting
  3. District Approval: District Policy Committee and Synod (Recommends to the Synod, agreement of principle and (if desired) designation of the governing body of the LEP to be the Methodist Church Council under SO 611)
  4. Connexional approval: The Connexional Ecumenical Officer and the Faith and Order Committee need to approve new constitutions.

The District Ecumenical Officer will normally see the LEP through the District. The purpose of this is to obtain approval for the principle of an LEP, not just to approve the constitution. (SO 434(v) traces a route for the constitution from DPC, to the ecumenical officer and F&O, and then to the Synod.)

The draft constitution should be sent to the Connexional Ecumenical Officer. The best method is by email as this will help with circulation of the draft to the people who need to see it. The draft will be sent to the people who will scrutinise the constitution on behalf of ecumenical officer and the Faith and Order Committee. If the other denominations or sponsoring body request significant alterations, the constitution will need to be seen again.

Once the constitution has connexional and District approval, the LEP is approved and the local churches can mark the event with a special service or formal signing of the constitution. Independently of this, the LEP approval will be recorded in the agenda of the following Conference for en bloc approval. The local churches do not need to wait for this to happen. However, it is essential DEOs inform the Connexional Ecumenical Officer of District approvals.

Occasionally, LEPs review their constitutions. Good practice dictates use of the Model Constitutions to ensure the new constitution meets the latest standards and requirements. Under Standing Orders both the District and the Connexion will need to see the revised constitution.

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