Service of Hope strengthens Cumbria’s ecumenical county status
A service of Hope and Expectation has heralded the strengthening of Cumbria’s designation as England’s first ecumenical county.
Hundreds of people gathered at Carlisle Cathedral for the Advent Service, during which the Salvation Army became the latest denomination to officially sign a new Declaration which signals closer working practice.
It came five years after 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.
On Sunday afternoon the Salvation Army became the 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: “For the Salvation Army the signing is the next intentional step in joining in partnership. Having signed the letter of companionship in the south of the county, to now join the whole of the county gives a great opportunity to further engage and to further strengthen the unity and the mission.
“The God for All initiative is one of the main reasons why the Salvation Army should be a part of this; it’s a God thing.”
The Rev’d Richard Teal, Chair of Cumbria Methodist District, said: “This service was hugely significant. It is five years since we made our first signing and during that time we’ve moved mountains to get to where we are today.
“It is so important that we are together as Christians in the county as we spread the Gospel of God’s love and spread his kingdom across Cumbria. We are much stronger together than we are if we act separately.”
The Rev’d Sarah Moore, Area President of the Cumbria Area of the North Western Synod of the United Reformed Church said: “This is a really significant moment and gives us all a further green light to push on with God for All, as we look to make the reality of God known to as many people as possible in Cumbria.
“There was a fantastic turn out for the service and it was really heartening to see so many people join together from churches right across the county. Now I pray that we continue to see those closer working relationships continue to grow as we work towards the creation of mission communities.”
The Rt Rev’d James Newcome, The Bishop of Carlisle, said: “The service was a really historic moment, not only for the county but for the whole of the country. It’s a sign of our absolute commitment to each other as Christians to take the Gospel into the whole of the county.
“We could hardly feel more encouraged and to make the signing on Advent Sunday when we’re thinking about the coming of Jesus was a wonderfully appropriate time to do this. Everybody has been so warm, enthusiastic and friendly; it augurs very well, indeed, for what lies ahead.”
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 committed 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.
Leaders from the Religious Society of Friends in Cumbria, the Roman Catholics, the North Western Baptist Association and the Church of Scotland signed a Letter of Companionship, affirming their commitment to pray for those churches who signed the Declaration and to work in mission with the denominations at a local and county level where possible.
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 email@example.com.