Who can join my local Churches Together group? 

The short answer is that this depends on your constitution. But please don't click away in exasperation! Read on...

If you don't have a constitution, or if the constitution you have is outdated, please have a look at our pro-forma. (If you are looking for a constitution because you want to register with the Charity Commission, this will not be suitable and we are unable to help.)

I don't want to fuss with red tape!

And nor does anybody. A good constitution 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. For example, it should allow a 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 tries to do that.

Relationships come first

If a new local church asks for membership, suggest that a first step is to develop the relationship with existing members. There is no reason why you could not invite a representative to meetings as an observer (for most CT groups, this allows them to play a full part in the life of the group), encourage the congregation to participate in the activities of the CT group, and invite its minister to clergy meetings. After an appropriate time (during which you may discover that you need to find, possibly change or create your constitution!), you can accept the new church into formal membership.

If this is not acceptable to the new church, gently and tactfully try and find out what is the reason. Sometimes a request for membership comes because a local school has as one of its admissions criteria that the family must belong to a church in membership of Churches Together in England. (We have no control over this and schools continue to do this despite our strongest representations that we should not be cited in admissions policies.) If that is what is happening here, try to explain sensitively that membership of a local (or Intermediate) Churches Together group does not grant membership of Churches Together in England. Be prepared to deal with anger and distress.

What churches can our group accept into membership?

This depends on your constitution. We don't recommend that you use membership of Churches Together in England as a criterion since CTE can only accept into membership national churches or councils of churches. This naturally excludes a local independent church which does not belong to one of the councils in membership of CTE. Yet that local independent church may enhance the life of your local CT group and your constitution should allow it to be accepted into membership.

Most CT groups limit membership to churches which are Trinitarian. A special clause allows the Quakers to be members since they do not have formal expressions of doctrine. In some places the relationship with Unitarian congregations is excellent and they, too, are accepted into membership by local CT groups. The principle is always the same: relationships come before formal membership.

 
Download our pro-forma constitution and take it from there. Your County Ecumenical Officer can help. And here are a few more things to think about.And to ensure that this document appears when you look for it: constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution constitution
a ChurchInsight siteLow GraphicsCopyrightT&CsPrivacyHelpRegistered Charity 1110782, Comp Reg No 5354231