Sharing Agreements

Sharing Agreements are governed by the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1969, which applies in England and Wales but not Scotland. They are therefore, although unincorporated, recognised within the law of the land. This enables the rites of the participating denominations to be practiced even where the Trusts on which the premises are held would not otherwise allow this, for example alcoholic communion wine can be permited on Methodist model trust premises as part of a rite of another tradition. To be able to participate in a Sharing Agreement a denomination must be gazetted under the Act. Most mainstream denominations, and some independent churches, are already gazetted (ie have their details formally recorded in the London Gazette). Contact the Connexional Ecumenical Officer for an up-to-date list. Churches can become gazetted if they are members of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) or of the Evangelical Alliance.

In a Single Congregation Partnership, there will usually be a Sharing Agreement alongside the LEP constitution. However, there are some churches where there is a Sharing Agreement alone. This, Shared Building Partnership, is still regarded as a LEP but it is where two or more denominations share the premises but conduct independent services. This model may be particularly helpful where a Roman Catholic or Orthodox Church is sharing premises although a Churches in Covenanted Partnership agreement might serve just as well.

A Sharing Agreement:

  • allows money from another denomination to be spent on Model Trust premises or Methodist Model Trust money to be used for a non-Methodist building;
  • allows a minister on the premises to carry out those rites and practices which would be permitted on premises belonging to their own church;
  • allows the churches to agree who is responsible for management of the premises, see SO 611;
  • permits weddings to be conducted on the shared premises, assuming other legal constraints are acknowledged.

For the sharing of any premises (Model Trust or otherwise) the local Methodist Church should contact the Legal Office at TMCP in Manchester. A legal officer will guide the church through the process. The Methodist Church will need to initiate a project on the consents website.  Each church should  have a member who is authorised to use this site and they need to go to the page Sharing a church project ecumenically, for instructions about how to do this.  Care should be taken to enter details of the buildings to be shared and the participating denominations.  The dates of church council and circuit meeting that agree the project need to be reported.  The project ID needs to be noted and sent to the District Ecumenical Officer (DEO).  Once the DEO has contacted the project, they need to write to the Connexional Ecumenical Officer, with the project ID.  The Connexional Ecumenical Officer will then see to connexional approval for the project.  Once the District is satisfied that everything is in place, they can give final consent to the project.  Once this consent has been completed it is reported by the Connexional Ecumenical officer in the Methodist Conference agenda. The Agreement is drawn up in consultation with TMCP Legal (Methodist) and representatives from the other denomination. Normally, the Sharing Agreement is drawn up by the host denomination.

Sharing Agreements must contain provisions for their termination. They can be terminated by writing to the Connexional Ecumenical Officer, with contact details for the participating denominations. The Connexional Ecumenical Officer will write to the participating denominations and inform them of the termination. This will usually be 6 months from the date of the letter unless the local churches agree a different date. The Connexional Ecumenical Officer will also record the termination in the next Conference agenda.

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