Cumbria’s ecumenical county status is strengthened
A special service in Carlisle Cathedral this weekend will strengthen Cumbria’s designation as England’s first ecumenical county.
Five years ago leaders from the Methodist, United Reformed and Anglican churches joined together to sign a Declaration of Intent, signalling moves to work more closely together in mission.
Since then the partner denominations – along with five other companion denominations - have been working together towards the ecumenical God for All vision that: By 2020 every person in Cumbria of all ages and backgrounds will have had an opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives, so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus within a Christian community.
Now the Salvation Army is to become a fourth partner denomination, signing a new Declaration of Covenant Partnership, allowing ministry to be more easily shared across the county.
Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader of The Salvation Army’s North West England & North Wales Division, said: “The Salvation Army having been a companion to the partnership in the south of the county since the original declaration was signed, now we are wanting to strengthen, where possible, partnership for the sake of Christian mission in Cumbria.
“The vision of 'God For all' that by 2020 every person in Cumbria of all ages and backgrounds will have had an opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their life is inspiring and challenging. The covenant enables us to work together for that purpose.”
The Rev’d Richard Teal, Chair of Cumbria Methodist District, said: “It doesn't seem two minutes since we signed the Declaration of Intent on Advent Sunday 2011; what work, prayer mission and development of relationships has happened since then.
“I am overwhelmed that five years later we gather again on Advent Sunday for a very significant service to become the first county in the country to form a Covenanted Partnership in an Extended Area, which now includes the Salvation Army.”
The Rev’d Sarah Moore, Area President of the Cumbria Area of the North Western Synod of the United Reformed Church, said: “With joy and thanksgiving, the United Reformed Church in Cumbria celebrates this step along the journey of Christian Unity as we recommit to working together with our friends in the Church of England and Methodist Church in this county and commit to this new covenant relationship with the Salvation Army.
“Such close working with the Salvation Army is a first for the United Reformed Church and we look forward to learning more about love of God and love of neighbour from our work together.”
The Rt Rev’d James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle, said: “It is with prayerful thanks that we welcome the signing of this Declaration which now includes the Salvation Army.
“It is wonderfully exciting to see how God is moving within Cumbria, how churches are growing together and how there is a commitment from both the partner and companion denominations to bring the reality of God to as many people as we can.”
The service on Sunday explores the great Advent themes of hope and expectation and celebrates all that is being done across the county to establish up to 40 mission communities as part of the God for All vision. Each will be mission centred and will allow denominations to share ministry as appropriate in view of traditions. The Covenant Partnership applies across the whole county and so makes sharing of ministry easier, though with no binding requirements.
Each signatory of the Declaration will commit themselves and their churches to:
• seek out every possible opportunity for joint initiatives especially for God for All, at local and county level in mission to all the people of Cumbria.
• work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry whenever possible, and to share that ministry wherever appropriate.
• continue the work of developing strategies whereby we optimise the use of our church buildings for the benefit of communities throughout the county.
Meanwhile leaders from the Religious Society of Friends in Cumbria, the Roman Catholics, the North Western Baptist Association and the Church of Scotland will sign a letter of companionship, reinforcing their commitment to pray for those churches who are signing the Declaration and to work in mission with the denominations at a local and county level where possible.
All are welcome to attend the Advent Sunday Carol Service in the Cathedral which will start at 3pm on Sunday 27 November.
Notes to editors
For more on God for All visit www.godforall.org.uk.
For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.