There are a number of new networks at national, regional and local levels where churches are working together. Some of these new networks are in addition to Churches Together groups described and resourced throughout this website, while others come out of Churches Together or compliment / integrate with established groups.
A summary of the policy of Churches Together in England is to 'do what the churches in England are doing'. This means that if the churches in England are working in different and new ways, then CTE's role is to celebrate, encourage and resource the ecumenical journey as it moves forward. To quote Rev Dr David Cornick, the General Secretary of CTE, 'There is no CTE "brand" that has to be preserved: we are here as the instrument of the churches and the churches guide our work'.
Part of the work of CTE is therefore to acknowledge change. We sometimes hear of a local Churches Together group ceasing to meet, or a Local Ecumenical partnership closing down. At the same time we celebrate the new networks that are emerging. As the Chair of one county Churches Together group put it, 'We have recently closed a local ecumenical partnership but, in my experience, we have never been so committed and active in our ecumenical work as we are at present'.
One example of the changes taking place in an English town is Tamworth, where the regional church leaders gathered to commission a night time chaplaincy. It was an opportunity to highlight and hear from a wide variety of local networks that included: food banks; youth outreach, housing project, debt counselling and other mission work. Read the Tamworth story here.
Among the new national networks that have emerged are the following which Churches Together work closely with:
- this is a national network under the aegis of the Evangelical Alliance that works with churches of all denominations in towns and cities. More than a hundred now exist and a second national conference of the network people happens in May 2014. Some of these 'new network for mission' as they are generally described, have been in existance for some time eg 'Pray for the City' in Carlisle and 'Southwark for Jesus' south of the Thames. http://www.wegather.co.uk/
- is a mission network that began as 'Hope 08' and became a new national network with a focus in 2014 at the request of church leaders in England. A major resource book has been distributed by several denominations to all local leaders and in 2014 Hope is encouraging all churches to have a Rythm of Mission, whereby the major events of the churches year become opportunities for witness and evangelism. Hope have produced resources eg 'Sharing Jesus' and a number related to particular events eg the anniversary of World War I. http://www.hopetogether.org.uk/
Together For The Common Good
- is a network based around a conference inspired by the the close working relationship of Archbishop Derek Warlock and Bishop David Shepphard when they served together in Liverpool 1975 -1996. Described as 'Christian collaboration for social justice', T4CG as it is abreviated brings together speakers and participants in conference and in network meetings and online conversation in a wide variety of social issues for the 'common good'. http://togetherforthecommongood.co.uk
There are a number of other networks which are dedicated to a particular project eg the Trussell Trust for food banks which bring churches together in many local networks. In addition there are prayer networks and ministers meetings coming together to seek God's guidance for how the churches respond to the needs of the local community. All this is in addition to well established networks eg 'Christian Aid Week' and 'New Wine' that bring churches together in a wide variety of ways, and the agencies and Bodies in Association of CTE that work in partnership with local churches.
The distinctive of 'Churches Together' is that of the 'churches' - denominations and their appointed representatives working out what it means to 'be' and 'do' together. Some local groups of churches use other titles to describe their network, e.g. 'Christians Together', while in other areas, several different networks co-exist to cover the full range of interchurch networks, including those which are emerging and new.