Thursday, 24 March 2011

Group for Local Unity, March 2011

Official crest of The Salvation Army.Image via Wikipedia
The Group for Local Unity is a co-ordinating group of Churches Together in England. It maintains and develops the principles and good practice of ecumenism locally as an essential part of the task of the Member Churches of Churches Together in England. Its members are appointed by the Member Churches and report to them. It normally meets three times a year but various working groups also gather between meetings of the full Group.

Today is one of those meetings (the last meeting was in November 2010) and here are some items from today's agenda. As always a request for more information about specific items will encourage me to post more about it.  I hope some of the papers mentioned below will be published following the meeting.
  1. There is a lot to be discussed about Single Congregation Local Ecumenical Partnerships (SCLEPs).  It is just over a year since GLU launched a new model constitution for SCLEPs, approved not only by the churches but also the Charity Commission.  This document was also an opportunity to simplify approval procedures.  Other things being equal, it is now much easier to set up a SCLEP.  It has had some time to bed down, and so some issues have come to light.  With the new charities legislation and the possibility of most if not all SCLEPs having to register as charities sooner or later, the model constitution has had some scrutiny from legal experts and their feedback is before GLU today.  One issue is, as the Parish Church Council (PCC) of the Church of England is set up by statute, it is important to understand the relationship between the PCC and the SCLEP Charity Trustees.  GLU will therefore consider a Memorandum of Understanding between the two bodies.  There is also the issue of conflict of interest between the Trustees and the PCC, especially where there is significant overlap of membership.  Various amendments to the model constitution will be considered.  
  2. A paper from the Salvation Army, clarifyies their Territorial position on LEPs.  Here's an extract: "It may seem unlikely that a single congregation form of LEP would be viable for an Army congregation, in that the partner congregations would probably require some form of sacramental practice.  However a covenantal partnership LEP including The Salvation Army has been formed in the Forest of Dean and provides an excellent model of how the Army can engage in this kind of partnership and yet retain a strong identity and enhance its effectiveness in mission."
  3. There will be a report about the ongoing review of Intermediate Bodies, and some of the emerging issues.  There are eight so far, including 'lighter structures' and constitutions, relationship with LEPs, Churches Together Groups, Para-Church Groups and National Initiatives, Church Planting and Fresh Expressions.
  4. LEP Reviews are one of the candidates for a 'lighter touch'.  The policy is to review LEPs once every 7 years and some of the Intermediate Bodies have been struggling to keep up.  GLU will consider a paper about how reviews may be re-envisioned with new guidelines for good practice.
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