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Baptist Association Ecumenical Officers 

Job Description and role

Baptists being who they are, there is never likely to be a neat and tidy pattern of Baptist ecumenical officers across the country. Roles clearly vary from Association to Association. Nevertheless we see the work as threefold. It needs:

  • Someone appointed by the Association to represent Baptists at the county’s “Churches Together” body. This person should be able to meet with other Denominational Ecumenical Officers as appropriate in that Body’s ecumenical Enabling Group. The Church of England, Methodist, URC and some other denominations have a national pattern of such people. Together these DEOs are supported and resourced by the County Ecumenical Development Officer. They also attend the County’s Churches Together Council Meetings.
     

  • Someone who understands and can advise Baptist churches on all that is involved in working together with congregations of other denominations in Covenants, Sharing Agreements, and Local Ecumenical Partnerships as well as in less formal local dialogue. Over the years this has been a very important role: churches are loathe to take up a Regional Minister's time and may therefore not ask questions when they should, and may then get in problems that could have been avoided. Equally not all Regional Ministers have the appropriate expertise to deal with these issues and as a result there are one or two examples where Baptists have been left out of possible involvement in an LEP.
     

  • Someone who is responsible in each Association for "ecumenical education" among Baptists. This needs doing locally to parallel the efforts of the Baptist Union’s Senior Management Team and the Department of Faith and Unity.
     

Ways forward

It may be that in some places one person fulfils all these functions, or two out of the three, and that that person is called “Baptist Ecumenical Officer”. Elsewhere different people would be responsible, and hopefully would also link together to exchange information. This allows for the usual Baptist flexibility and refusal to fit into moulds.
 
We emphasise, of course, that such posts are held not by part-time paid officers, with all the implications of a funded post. This is typically be a “portfolio” post held by someone who takes this on as an extension of their local ministry or other work on behalf of the Association.
 
 

Revd Philip Webb, CEDO, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, 2008 
(based on material written by Rev Roger Nunn,
Secretary Local Ecumenical Committee, January 1994)

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