As well as encouraging the building of good relationships, we recommend that all local Churches Together groups have their own written Agreement – what in the past was described as a constitution. Good paperwork describes how you operate and does not require you to jump through unnecessary hoops. It allows you to do what you want to do, allows for future growth and protects you in various different ways.
A written Agreement should allow a local Churches Together (or similar) group to accept into membership churches it wishes to accept, and give the ability to refuse membership to bodies which, for good reasons, it is not appropriate to accept into membership.
Our pro-forma Churches Together Agreement document provides a helpful template for local groups looking to create a new Agreement or amend their old constitution (with the footnotes providing lots of helpful further information).
Please note that if you are looking for paperwork because you want to register with the Charity Commission, this pro-forma will not be suitable, and other bodies are better placed to offer advice in this area. Just ensure that whatever structure you adopt, the personal liability of your Trustees is protected. You may wish to see whether the CIO structure is suitable.
Things to consider:
Whether you’re writing your Agreement for the first time, or renewing or restructuring your local group, these are some helpful things to consider:
You will never create something perfect. Think about what the natural grouping is and be flexible. Be aware that only a miracle will ensure a clear geographical area. A circuit or a parish may find your boundary cuts through its patch – if so, let them decide whether to participate in two Churches Together groups or to choose one.
If a congregation wants to join, then unless it makes your geographical area unviable, let them. Just make sure you are not ‘poaching’ from an existing Churches Together group – if you are, check out why and if there is anything you can do to help them.
Not all the congregations in your area will want to join, but keep the relationships going and keep them informed. Invite them to shared worship or to help with shared mission. If you create a Christmas services leaflet or a church information leaflet for example, to distribute in local hotels, they may be very happy for their services to be listed too. Grow your relationships.
There may also be Christian organisations or projects in your area which may be glad to sit around the table. Include them and keep them informed. At a national level we call these organisations Bodies in Association, but you probably won’t want to be so formal!
Looking further afield
Be aware that churches work together throughout England (and beyond) in all sorts of different ways. You’ll probably know your neighbours and will want to keep in touch with what they are doing to share resources and good practice.
Look to the county (or equivalent) level too and make sure your County Ecumenical Officer knows what you are up to – s/he would love to be added to your regular mailings for example. S/he is a good source of help, support and encouragement, and will be glad to see a copy of your paperwork too.
At a national level, keep up-to-date with the latest ecumenical news and stories of church unity by signing up to CTE’s CTe-News mailing.
Find out more
- For more information on which churches can join local CT groups, see Who can join my local Churches Together group?
- For those interested in setting up a new local Churches Together group, find advice in How to get started locally.
- If you have any questions about local Churches Together paperwork, do get in touch with the County Ecumenical Officer for your area.