Local covenants can either be a commitment between local congregations -- perhaps a Churches Together group wanting to make a more significant commitment between its member churches -- or they can be a formal commitment between the Churches (ie Diocese, District, Synod, Baptist Assocation etc) in an area, in which case they are a formal Covenanted Partnership, one of the forms of LEP (Local Ecumenical Partnership) recognised by the Churches. The article below refers to the non-LEP local covenant.
A local Covenant is a significant mutual commitment under God between congregations, local churches and parishes in a particular locality. A Local Covenant is not the end of a process of churches growing closer together but the start of a new phase of relationship and inter-dependence in their service of God. Churches which covenant together must do so for mutually discerned and agreed purposes. To use the language of anything less than this is to debase a powerful Biblical concept.
Like marriage, Local Covenants must not be lightly entered in to. A significant depth of relationship, commitment and activity is possible through a local Churches Together. Those thinking about a Local Covenant must consider prayerfully if what they discern to be the purpose and level of mutual commitment of the churches requires a covenant relationship.
A Local Covenant is of such significance that it cannot be a matter of purely local concern. In order that a Local Covenant may be given proper support by the denominations involved and that commitments are not entered into which go beyond the competence of a congregation, local church or parish, approval must be sought from the appropriate authorities. Denominational Ecumenical Officers will know the right person or body to approach in each case. The County Ecumenical Officer should also be consulted.
A Local Covenant should state its purpose clearly - both in terms of a faithful response to God and of the specific ways In which the covenant relationship win become effective.
The business of developing a Local Covenant is that of all God's people in the churches and must not only be the work of clergy and ministers. This implies discussion prayer and action within and between churches.
The Church Leaders of the various denominations are happy to be invited to the signing of Local Covenants but will want to be assured that all of the above has been considered.
From Greater Manchester Churches Together