Friday, 11 February 2011

Sharing Agreements

Luton: High Town Methodist Church (1) This is ...Image via Wikipedia
Although Sharing Agreements are governed by the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1969, which applies in England and Wales but not Scotland, they are still a useful way of enabling churches to work collaboratively. They are, 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. 

In a Single Congregation Partnership, there will usually be a Sharing Agreement alongside the Local Ecumenical Partnership (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 CCP 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.
Recently the method for approval of new Sharing Agreements has changed for the Methodist Church.  This has come about through the development of a Consents website for new property schemes.  More work needs to be done on this website, after which the new method will be simplified, but the new interim arrangements are fairly straightforward.

So, the ecumenical section of the Methodist Church website has an overview of Sharing Agreements, how to initiate them and terminate them.  For details about how to initiate a Sharing Agreement, go to the guidelines for the Consents database.
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