Church leaders from the Methodist, United Reformed and Anglican Churches in Cumbria will sign an historic ecumenical Declaration of Intent today (27 November 2011).
Supported by the other five main Christian denominations in Cumbria (Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Baptist, Quaker and Church of Scotland) the declaration means that Cumbria becomes the first ecumenical county in England, with churches agreeing on a county-level to work more closely together for the sake of unity.
Building on a shared faith, the Declaration affirms the common goals of the three churches: “We believe that we are being called by God to realise more deeply our common life and mission, to share and respect the distinctive contributions of our traditions, and to bring about closer collaboration in all areas of witness and service.” The Declaration goes on to commit these three churches:
a.) “to seek out every possible opportunity for joint initiatives at Local and County Level in mission to all the people of Cumbria. b.) to work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry whenever possible, and to share that ministry wherever appropriate. c.) to continue the work of developing strategies whereby we optimise the use of our church buildings for the benefit of communities throughout the county.”
The service in Ambleside on 27 November will be attended by Church Leaders from all eight denominations in Cumbria, and by representatives from the national churches involved. A message of support from the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, will be relayed during the service.
The Declaration will be signed by the Church Leaders of the three denominations involved.
The Rev Richard Church, Moderator of the North West Synod of the United Reformed Church said: “The United Reformed Church has always been passionate about the visible unity of the Church. We are so encouraged that in Cumbria this dream is being brought closer to accomplished reality.”
The Rev Richard Teal, Chair of Cumbria Methodist District said: ''I am delighted that we are signing the Declaration of Intent. It is a result of vision, hard work, prayer, trust and openness. It is now important that we do not just sign it, but ensure its far reaching implications become a reality.”
The Rt Rev James Newcome, Anglican Bishop of Carlisle said: “I am personally thrilled that we are taking a significant step towards an Ecumenical County and highly delighted that our ‘Declaration of Intent’ was unanimously welcomed by Carlisle Diocesan Synod”