Friday, 9 September 2011

Intermediate Bodies, Past and Present

Ecumenical Church of Christ the CornerstoneImage via Wikipedia
Christ the Cornerstone, Milton Keynes
Before I go on to discuss the four conclusions I highlighted yesterday from Churches Together in England's new report, 'A Review of Intermediate Ecumenical Life in England', I've found the chapter that reviews the history of intermediate ecumenism interesting.

The report lists the various origins of intermediate bodies.  I can't copy all the details here but even in summary it may help us remember the diversity of ecumenical life in England and the legacy of past innovations.
  • City and County Councils of Churches.  There appear to have been only 8 of these of which the 6 latest started in the 1960s.  The earliest was in Manchester in 1917.
  • Church Leaders Meetings.  It isn't clear whether the motivation of these was informal meetings for mutual support or pragmatic response to the needs of secular bodies.  Most likely it was both.
  • County / Diocesan Sponsoring Bodies were always associated with the development of what are today called Local Ecumenical Partnerships.  This explains why intermediate bodies are sometimes referred to as sponsoring bodies as many of them took on this role.  But of course the role does not have to be played by the sponsoring body itself, it can be delegated to another organisation.
  • New Town Developments, ie Telford, Swindon and Milton Keynes.  This explains why although the majority of intermediate bodies are county bodies we have these three exceptions.
  • More recently intermediate bodies can be realigned, ie merge or divide.
At present there are 55 intermediate bodies in England.  These originated from the above sources as follows:
  • 16 Councils of Churches (some Councils of Churches persisted for many years after the formation of Churches Together in .  In Sheffield for example, Sheffield Council of Churches continued for many years after the formation of Churches Together in South Yorkshire.  It doesn't appear as far as I can see from this report that any have survived to the present day.)
  • 2 Church Leaders' meetings
  • 10 Sponsoring Bodies
  • 3 New Towns
  • 10 mixed origins
They can also be classified according to geography, thus:
  • 13 rural / county
  • 3 entirely urban / city
  • 16 mixed
  • 3 new towns
  • 3 within M25
Next weeks I shall comment on some of the findings of the report.
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