On 1 September 2020, Churches Together in England (CTE) celebrates the 30th anniversary of its formation. Here the Ecumenical Mission Officer for Staffordshire and the Potteries, Robert Mountford, celebrates how churches work together on a more local level…
Churches Together in England’ celebrates its 30th birthday on Tuesday 1 September 2020. Its Inaugural Service took place at 12 noon on Saturday 1 September 1990 at St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Southwark. At the service, 19 senior Church Leaders signed the Basis and Commitment to the new ecumenical journey. The statement read,
‘Churches Together in England unites in pilgrimage those churches in England which, acknowledging God’s revelation in Christ, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures; and, in obedience to God’s will and in the power of the Holy Spirit commit themselves to seek a deepening of their communion with Christ and with one another in the Church, which is his body, and to fulfil their Mission to proclaim the Gospel by common witness and service in the world, to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.’
In addition to the commitment to a shared pilgrimage between Churches at the national level, ‘Intermediate Bodies’ operating at city or county-level were introduced, each employing an Ecumenical Officer to coordinate and promote ecumenical dialogue and development. At the local level, ‘Churches Together’ groups and Local Ecumenical Partnerships (congregations or ministries which belong to more than one Church) were formed. These intermediate and local expressions of Christian unity continue around the country to this day, bringing Christians together in shared prayer, witness and service to the local community.
Churches Together in England has experienced remarkable growth from its origins 30 years ago. It now embraces 50 member-Churches, six Presidents, 49 Intermediate Bodies, 2,000 local Churches Together groups and 900 Local Ecumenical Partnerships. The arrival of Orthodox, Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches continues to swell the ranks. Diversity of doctrine, worship style and organisational structure becomes ever more apparent. In the face of such diversity, the prayer of Jesus that those who believe in him would come to complete unity (John 17:20-23) still captures hearts, inspires minds, guides decisions and galvanises endeavour. Based on that prayer, the CTE strapline is ‘One in Christ Jesus, engaged in God’s mission, empowered by the Spirit.’
A longer version of this article first appeared on the Churches Linked Across Staffordshire and the Potteries website.