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A Denominational Ecumenical Officer in the Church of England 

for a Diocese, Archdeaconry or Episcopal Area

Preliminary Considerations

1. The nature of the appointment

Most existing appointments are part-time. Options include:

  • Clergy who also have parochial or other appointments

  • Lay people in part-time appointment

  • An appointment combined with that of ecumenical officer for a county/intermediate body

If the post of Ecumenical Officer is to be combined with an existing parochial appointment, early consultation with the parish is essential to agree the basis for this dual ministry. Clear lines for reimbursing diocesan and parochial expenses need to be drawn.

2. The scope and purpose of the appointment 

  • Work with parishes and deaneries to enable local ecumenism – often in partnership with ecumenical officers from other churches and with the county/intermediate body.

  • Drawing attention to the ecumenical dimension in every aspect of the life of the diocese. If this is not to be done by the Ecumenical Officer, some other senior person in the diocese needs to carry this responsibility.

3. The geographical area of the work

A single part-time appointment for the whole diocese may be sufficient. More than one appointment may be needed, however, in larger dioceses, or where the diocese needs to relate through more than one county/intermediate body.

4. The terms of the appointment

The following should be agreed and clearly stated:

  • The appointing body: Bishop, Bishop’s Council, Pastoral Committee or other diocesan body

  • The duration of the appointment, with procedures for extension and termination

  • The process by which the work will be reviewed

  • The number of days or sessions per week – proportionate to the scale of the task

  • The rate of pay for a lay person – taking into account housing

  • A budget for expenses and activities – and the procedure for reimbursement

  • The provision of secretarial help and office space

5. The pattern of accountability in diocesan structures

Ownership by diocesan structures is essential – through appropriate management and accountability via the appointing body. New appointees should be publicly introduced at Synod or other diocesan occasion.

The following provide important points of intersection with the life of the diocese:
  • Ex officio attendance at Diocesan Pastoral Committee. Canon B44.1 (3)(d) requires the approval of the Diocesan Pastoral Committee for the formation of a Local Ecumenical Partnership *

  • Ex officio attendance at Bishop’s Council *

  • Direct access to a senior member of diocesan staff

  • A means of developing working relationships with Missioners and with other parish development and resource personnel in the diocese

* EOs should at least have access to minutes of these bodies, and possibly other diocesan boards and committees. If the EO is not in attendance, it needs to be clear who is representing the ecumenical dimension.

6. Training and support provision

The budget should provide for a new EO to attend the initial training conference organised annually by Churches Together in England, and the annual consultation for diocesan ecumenical officers organised by the Council for Christian Unity.
If the EO is not part of a team of denominational ecumenical officers convened by the county ecumenical officer, some pattern of informal support ought to be provided within the diocese. 

A Job Description for an Ecumenical Officer in a diocese, archdeaconry or episcopal area 

1. General

The Ecumenical Officer will undertake study and reflect with others on the nature of the unity to which Christians are called in the light of God’s purpose for the world and the Church
The Ecumenical Officer will be a theological resource and enabler, expanding and extending the vision of Christian unity and sharing in the task of making the vision a reality.

2. Within diocesan structures

The Ecumenical Officer will, so far as possible, draw attention to the ecumenical dimension in every aspect of the life of the diocese

  • by being in attendance at the Diocesan Pastoral Committee – and other pastoral committees as required

  • by advising the bishop and his staff on matters where there is ecumenical participation and potential – especially by ensuring that appropriate consultation takes place when appointments are to be made in formal Local Ecumenical Partnerships

  • by contributing to the work of Diocesan Synod, Bishop’s Council and other diocesan boards and committees so that they may build links with equivalent structures in partner churches and, wherever possible, develop co-ordinated strategies

  • by maintaining creative dialogue and developing joint activities with training and resource personnel, including those responsible for ministerial training and for mission development both across the diocese and in the local church.

3. Locally

The Ecumenical Officer will seek to deepen local ecumenical relationships and encourage missionary engagement by the whole Christian community

  • by maintaining close links with existing formally recognised Local Ecumenical Partnerships where there is Church of England participation and encouraging new partnerships

  • by encouraging Church of England participation in local Churches Together groups and activity and Meetings of Ministers

  • by supporting and encouraging Church of England parishes to explore and develop their contribution to a single Christian presence in their locality

  • by providing advice and information about ecumenical matters from a Church of England perspective, including the application of the ecumenical Canons B43 and B44.

4. In relation to County/Intermediate Bodies

The Ecumenical Officer will work to facilitate the full and active participation of the diocese with other churches through the relevant intermediate ecumenical instruments

  • by working collaboratively with the county ecumenical officer and ecumenical officers of other churches

  • by representing the diocese on the Sponsoring Body for Local Ecumenical Partnerships

  • by representing the diocese within the structures of the county/intermediate body

  • by assisting the county ecumenical officer in the selection and training of Anglicans to serve in the review of Local Ecumenical Partnerships and for other ecumenical tasks.

5. In relation to national ecumenism

The Ecumenical Officer will help to make the diocese aware of national developments of ecumenical significance, which involve or affect the Church of England

  • by maintaining contact with the General Synod through its Council for Christian Unity

  • by resourcing diocesan consideration of the content and local implications of national and international dialogues and agreements

  • by contributing in any appropriate way to the Church of England’s relationship with other churches through Churches Together in England and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND Council for Christian Unity, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ

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