County or Intermediate Bodies
A unique feature of church life in England, paralleled nowhere else in the world, has been the development of a network of Intermediate Bodies – mostly corresponding to counties or large cities – where the Churches have developed a pattern of co-operation and shared life which also gives oversight to local ecumenism in its different forms.
At the 1987 Swanwick conference, when it was agreed to set up national ecumenical instruments like Churches Together in England, some 'umbrella' groupings already existed, notably in Merseyside and Greater Manchester, originally to care for Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs – then called Projects). The Churches agreed that similar bodies should be created throughout England, each more or less matching county boundaries. Their task is not only to care for LEPs but perhaps more importantly, to support and encourage local unity.
Each County or Intermediate Body is resourced very differently. Most, though not all, have someone who acts as the contact person. When these people are ecumenically appointed, they are often called the County Ecumenical Officer, though their actual job titles vary considerably, often including 'development' or 'mission' or 'facilitator'. Many of these are employed, mostly part time. They work closely with a network of Denominational Ecumenical Officers, supported by National Ecumenical Officers. Churches Together in England considers the support of Intermediate Bodies key to the development of local unity and offers written resources and staff support on request. A key review in 2011 is still very relevant.
The best way to contact a County/Intermediate Body is through the County Ecumenical Officer (CEO) and dedicated website below. Be aware, however, that each county is resourced very differently and while some CEOs are employed full time, most are not and some are employed for very few hours a week. They will, however, always do whatever they can to help. (CTE groups IBs into regions.)