Bishop's Mission Orders are a new General Synod measure which means that church initiatives that involve people from different parishes, for example a church plant, can (and sometimes legally must) receive official approval from the Bishop, which effectively means recognition, support and accountability. One of the stages in gaining approval includes discussion with ecumenical partners. Canons B4 and B5 allow a fair bit of discretion with regard to worship.
There is a Code of Practice which you can read here. Don't be put off by the fact that this WORD document has only 83 pages!
You may like to browse through Share the Guide which has interesting features around the Fresh Expressions theme.
Now for some legal stuff.
|Canon B15A||encourages "Eucharistic Hospitality"; that baptised and communicant members of other Trinitarian denominations are welcomed to receive Holy Communion. However, it needs to be recognised that some visitors may feel constrained by their own denomination's regulations or traditions from accepting such an invitation.|
|Canon B43 (1)||allows invitations to be made to ministers and lay members of other denominations to take part in the leading of services, in any way permitted to laity or Deacons within the Church of England, and to the extent that they would be authorised to do so within their own denomination.||This means that ministers and lay people from other Churches can take part in leading Anglican worship.|
|Canon B43 (3/6)||allows the acceptance by licensed ministers in the Church of England of invitations to take part in the leading of services of other denominations to the extent that they would be authorised to do so within the Church of England.||This means that Anglican clergy can take part in leading worship in other Churches|
|Canon B43 (9)||allows invitations to those of other denominations to lead services in accordance with their normal practice within the parish church - either jointly with or independently of the Church of England congregation.||This means that members of another Church may lead their own worship in the parish church, with or without the presence of the Anglican congregation.|
|In all cases the invitation must come from the incumbent.|
|Incumbents may invite ministers of other churches to take part in leading worship, as follows:|
|to read or lead prayers||no other permission required|
|occasionally to lead non-eucharistic services or to preach at any service||permission required from PCC|
|regularly to lead non-eucharistic services or to preach at any service||permission required from the Bishop & the PCC|
|to assist in the distribution at Holy Communion||permission required from the Bishop & the PCC (though Bishop's permission in Canterbury diocese has been delegated to the incumbent)|
|to assist at Baptism, Marriage or Funeral services if requested by persons involved||no other permission required.|
|In all cases the invitation must come from an authorised person, and must be to perform a duty similar to those the invitee is authorised to perform in the Church of England.|
|occasionally to receive such invitations||incumbent's permission required (incumbent of the parish in which the service takes place)|
|regularly to accept such invitations||permission required from the Bishop & the PCC|
|to preside at Holy Communion||The Archbishop or Bishop must be satisfied that "there are 'special circumstances' which justify acceptance of the invitation, and that the rite and the elements to be used are not contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter." (Canon B43 (4))|
|Encourage "Eucharistic Hospitality" (Canon B15A)||Baptised and communicant members of other Trinitarian Churches are welcomed to receive Holy Communion in a Church of England church. (Some may be constrained by the rules of their own church)|
|Offer invitations to ministers and lay members (Canon B43/1)||Ministers and lay members of other Churches may be invited to take part in leading services, in any way permitted to Church of England laity or Deacons, and to the extent that they would be so authorised in their own denomination.|
|Accept invitations from other Churches (Canon B43-3/6)||Licensed ministers of the Church of England may accept invitations to take part in the leading of services of other denominations to the extent that they would be so authorised to do within the Church of England|
|Services in a Church of England church (Canon B43/9)||Other denominations may be invited to lead services in accordance with their normal practice within the parish church, either jointly with or independently of the Church of England congregation|
|Think Ecumenically about Worship|| * Occasionally "swap" leaders or members, with invitations to read scripture or lead prayers|
* Arrange pulpit exchanges (not just in the Week of Prayer!)
* Organise joint services to emphasise the richness in worship of other traditions
* Invite another local minister to lead worship (including the Eucharist in his/her own tradition) in place of a main parish church service
* Set up ecumenical house groups
|Think Ecumenically about Prayer|| * Include in your prayers other Christian churches and fellowships in and around your parish|
* Ask them about particular prayer requests
* Mention by name their ministers and leaders
* Organise times to pray together with them - as ministers and leaders, and in small groups and fellowships
|Think Ecumenically about Outreach||Work together when planning for mission|
* Have regular joint staff meetings
* Publicise one another's services, events, activities
* Include them in your website and (you in theirs)
* Organise joint study and training
* Unite for local witness - carol-singing, Easter pilgrimage
* Do visiting together
* Rejoice when people you've visited begin to attend another local church!
|Think Ecumenically about Resources||Make every effort to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort - |
* Human: administration, youth workers, pastoral visitors, leaflet distributors,
* Buildings: open up your church hall rooms to other churches for meetings, and make use of theirs
* Training: share denominational expertise to other churches - stewardship, musical, lay training, etc
* Equipment: set up an ecumenical church office and share the costs of running expensive machines
|Think Ecumenically about Gathering||Get to know one another socially|
* Invite members of other church to your social events
* Have a Christmas party or an Easter outing together
* Experiment with summer b-i-y barbecues ("bring it yourself")
* Include sharing a meal as part of your ecumenical meetings
|Think Ecumenically about Communication||Undertake an Ecumenical Audit of your locality|
* Who are your partners?
* Can you identify local needs
* Plan together for new church or community programmes
* Which church is best placed to take the lead?
* Liaise with other churches at the first stage of any new proposals - building, events, outreach
* Treat one another as equal partners in God's mission, regardless of your respective "size"
"May they all be one;
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17.21)
Unity for Mission
"God in all his fullness chose to dwell (in Christ),
and through him to reconcile all things to himself.." (Col 1:19-20)
Reunification of God's creation
"The Lund Principle"
(Churches should) "act together in all matters except those in which
deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately".
Third World Conference on Faith & Order, Lund 1952