Churches Together in England has published 'A Review of Intermediate Ecumenical Life in England', dated August 2011. I covered the review a few times in this blog, starting here and then here. The report does not appear to be available to the general public as yet and I will post details about how to get hold of a copy when it becomes available.
What I intend to do is highlight a few conclusions that caught my eye and then in future posts I will explore them further. So, here are a few key points from the executive summary:
- In considering the support of local ecumenical life in its varied forms we note that the transition from Council of Churches to a Churches Together model has not happened in many instances. Intermediate Bodies are recommended to assist the process of broadening the range activity of such groups and thus involving key decision-makers and leaders.
- The Sponsoring Body function has tended to absorb the attention of Intermediate Bodies. Local Ecumenical Partnerships though beacons of ecumenical life in some places, have not been the expected harbingers of a united Church. They have taken up a great deal of time and energy of Intermediate Bodies and County Ecumenical Officers; we suggest here that the Sponsoring functions be reassessed and we call for clarity about which responsibilities rightly and essentially belong to the participating denominations and which to the Sponsoring Body.
- We assess the apparent disconnection between unity and mission, remarking that whilst Intermediate Bodies have been effective in building relationships between mainstream churches and their Leaders, they have not been as good at responding to calls for a "mission agenda", which has been taken forward in some places by separate independent "parallel ecumenical movements".
- We address the increasing diversity of English Christianity; and observe and commend Intermediate Bodies' desire to broaden their membership, noting that some Churches do not want to join Intermediate Bodies which they have regarded as dysfunctional.