Visiting an ecumenical situation
Before you attend the residential element of the training you must visit an ecumenical situation in which you are not involved. Contact your County Ecumenical Officer or the Denomination Ecumenical Officers in your county for help with this.
In the course of your work as an Ecumenical Officer you will visit many ecumenical situations, formally and informally. An example of a formal visit would be, for example, in the context of reviewing a Local Ecumenical Partnership. You will make far more informal visits, eg when giving a talk to a Churches Together group or working with local people on an issue. You may also find yourself preparing others for visits and teaching them how to review LEPs. The visit in the context of this course is designed to help you reflect on what you might look for when you visit a situation and how you might assess it. You will share your reflections at the residential training course.
Do I really need to do this?!
Yes, however experienced you are, please make a visit so that you have a recent and specific experience to bring to the course. You may find that there is somewhere like a chaplaincy which hasn't had contact with the Intermediate Body for some time so the visit is helpful for your work as well as for the course. If you're unconvinced, contact Jenny Bond.
What sort of visit?
Please visit a place where the Churches are working together. They need not be working well together -- indeed, sometimes you learn more from somewhere which is not working well! But ensure that the host knows that this is part of a training exercise and you are not going to be reviewing them or passing judgement. You are there to learn.
Don't just take the easy option and visit your nearest LEP! The training course includes people whose denominations do not work in LEPs and we are keen that reflection on the visit is relevant to all. Look beyond what you are used to, for example, try and find one of the following:
A shared building, possibly one shared with a Black Majority Church.
An ordinary Churches Together group, possibly in a rural or market town.
An example of urban regeneration, possibly a Churches Together group?
An ecumenical chaplaincy, eg some sort of industrial or social mission, a hospital or shopping centre.
A single congregation LEP.
Your visit should take about two hours.
Don't go by yourself. Go with one of the Denominational Officers in the county or perhaps with the CEO. Build in time to discuss the visit with your companion afterwards.
Tell your host that that the purpose of your visit is to learn how to carry out a visit to an ecumenical situation and how to reflect theologically on it. Ask to meet clergy and lay people. If you end up just meeting one person, it makes for a less satisfactory visit. Say that you'd like to talk about general activities, how co-operation has developed, the difficulties and challenges and the hopes for the future.
If the website of the place you are visiting isn't very helpful, ask for some preparatory material, eg an annual report or a newsletter or something similar.
The paper Visiting Ecumenical Situations may be helpful. You may want to send it to your visit host too.
Offer to reimburse your host of any expenses incurred and, afterwards, a 'thank you' card is hugely appreciated.
During the course you will be sharing your reflections with others. Time constraints mean that we can't spend time telling each other about the details of your visit so e-mail in advance of the course no less than half a page describing the place you have visited. Your report should arrive a month before the course if at all possible.
If you have any queries which your County Ecumenical Officer
cannot answer, please be in touch with Jenny Bond