Image via WikipediaOne of the groups meeting at the Closer Working Consultation (see previous post) considered Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs) and their constitutions.
One of the roles of denominational ecumenical officers is to support churches intending to become LEPs. The group made a number if recommendations about how this process might eb supported.
The group recommended that Churches Together in England (CTE) might encourage all LEPs to adopt the new model LEP constitution as soon as is practicable, regardless of the financial and charitable trust requirements or “need to change” qualification.
At a meeting of the Methodist URC Liaison Committee, the general direction of this recommendation was supported. LEPs are already asked to use the new model constitution when they start a new LEP or revise an old constitution, irrespective of whether they currently qualify for charitable status, that is their annual turnover exceeds £100 000. This threshold will fall and so the more LEPs that adopt the constitution now, the fewer will need to be processed when the threshold falls. For this reason we are hoping to flex the changes over a few years, rather than ask districts to approve them all at once, which is likely to be a huge task.
The group spent most of their time discussing support for LEPs. They expressed concern in the following areas:
- lack of awareness of the role of the sponsoring body, the role of the church leaders within the sponsoring body and the role of the County Ecumenical Officer (or equivalent, as job titles differ)
- the lack of resources given to sponsoring bodies and Denominational Ecumenical Officers, which suggests that denominations do not give the ecumenical agenda and support of LEPs a high enough priority. One DEO stated “we do not do this work as a hobby” and “district work is being subsidized by my circuit”.
There are papers on the Methodist Church website for District Chairs and others who work alongside them, visit: Courtesies and practicalities - Introductory notes for district chairs and those working alongside them. Other helpful information can be found in the online information the two churches publish together, How To Make It Work.
If you have thoughts about these issues, please comment below this post.
Please note I'm on leave and will respond to comments on or soon after Tuesday 24 August 2010.