Registered Charity No. 1117022
Revd Stephen Copson
For general enquiries, please email:
Revd Dr Callan Slipper
Churches Together in Hertfordshire unites in pilgrimage those churches in the area which, acknowledging God's revelation in Christ, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord according to the Scriptures, and in obedience to God's will and in the power of the Holy Spirit commit themselves:
To seek a deepening of their communion with Christ and with one another
in the Church, which is his body; and
To fulfil their mission to proclaim the Gospel by common witness
and service in the world:
To the glory of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Welcome to the website for Churches Together in Hertfordshire
We are continually developing this site, and to do this we need your help! Please send us news of events and activities from your church, and let us have your suggestions for other content.
We shall soon be introducing a discussion forum to the site and we hope that this will become a central hub for ecumenical discussions in Hertfordshire. Please do make contact with your thoughts, comments and ideas: facilitator[at]ctherts.org.uk
Other news links
Many of the linked documents on this site are in PDF format. Download the free Reader if you do not have it.
Churches Together in England elects its first Pentecostal President
The first Pentecostal President for Churches Together in England (CTE), Jamaican born Bishop Eric Brown, was installed on Monday 7 October 2013.
In a historic move, he joins the existing group of Presidents, Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Bishop Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, the Revd Michael Heaney and Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain.
Bishop Brown is the Presiding Bishop of the New Testament Church of God, a black majority Pentecostal church celebrating its 60th anniversary in the UK.
Charities, including ecumenical groups, need to be aware that the Charity Commission is cracking down. In an attempt to ensure that charities abide by their statutory obligations, it has launched an inquiry into 12 charities. These have failed to file annual reports, accounts or returns with the Charity Commission for two or more years. It is possible that the Commission will consider seeking the power to withdraw some privileges from ‘non-filing’ charities, such as the ability to reclaim Gift Aid.
Failure to submit annual documents to the Commission is a criminal offence. In the view of the Commission it amounts to mismanagement or even misconduct. The Commission has been contacting charities by telephone and has issued written warnings, requiring full compliance by a specified date.
f anyone is concerned about their own charity, it is possible to check whether a charity is ‘non-filing’. All that is need is to look at the Charity Commission’s website and use its advanced search facility: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/find-charities/. At the top of the list of options there is a group of four. One of these is ‘Charities with latest documents overdue.’ If in doubt, check it out!
An important update on charity obligations
A unity of the Heart
A unity of the heart, founded upon profound relationships in God, was the purpose of a meeting in Jerusalem of 33 bishops – Anglicans, Catholics (of different rites: Latin, Syriac, Chaldean, Maronite and Melkite), Evangelical Lutherans, Methodists, Orthodox of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Syrian Orthodox. This was the 32nd Ecumenical Conference of Bishops organized by the Focolare Movement held from 18th to 22nd November 2013.
It was, in its way, a colourful gathering as well as important.
CT HERTS goes Twitter
Churches Together in Hertfordshire has moved further into the world of digital communication by setting up a Twitter account.
Twitter has grown into a vast social networking system in just a few years and differs from other facilities by limiting users to brief sentences rather than extended monologues. Postings left by Twitter users are called ‘tweats’ and are an excellent way to make short comments and to publicise events etc. The account, operated by Facilitator Callan Slipper, aims to develop insights, experiences and practical suggestions for Christian unity. See what Callan has to say by looking at @manybut1. The Twitter icon to the top left will be permanently added to this site and access is direct. You do not need a Twitter account to read the posts but you may want to create one and contribute yourself!
Spirituality lived ecumenically is at the heart at Lambeth Palace, as Chemin Neuf comes to live and pray there. In January 2014 Christians from various churches set up a community within the Palace’s walls,.
Pentecostal Christianity is becoming a greater focus of interest among Christians of all churches.
A historic consultation took place between Anglicans and Pentecostals at the beginning of April 2014. Initiated by the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, nine Anglicans and eight Pentecostals gathered for two days of dialogue, prayer and worship.
They explored the roots and the development of Anglicanism and Pentecostalism in England and worldwide, Christian initiation, worship, ministry and spiritual gifts, and the nature and mission of the Church.
Christian unity grows as we work for others, our work for others is more effective as we work in unity. An exciting scheme promoted by Christian Aid is a chance to experience this mutual benefit. It is a way of standing shoulder to shoulder with people in need throughout the world.
The scheme is called Community Partnerships. It links up with some of the world’s poorest communities. Perhaps one of the most inspiring aspects of it is that donations given to projects through Community Partnerships are matched by generous funding from the European Union. Every pound you give is matched by at least three pounds more!
For further information see the Christian Aid website.
NEWS from Churches Together in Herts
Joking, Callan Slipper sometimes says that this book tells you all you ever wanted to know about ecumenism but never dared to ask. Of course, he is exaggerating. But this book does give a vision, at once spiritual and practical, for how we can live Christian unity.
It offers five steps for Christians to come closer on the path toward unity. (1) See the need; (2) Find the way; (3) Construct the building blocks; (4) Listen to the silent Third, Jesus; (5) Overcome all obstacles.
The insights are drawn from practical experience in the ecumenical field, not least in Hertfordshire, as well as many hours of thinking things through together with God. A core conclusion is perhaps surprising: ‘Christian unity does not depend upon the work of theologians or specialists or even of church leaders, although they too are involved. It depends almost entirely upon the love of individuals.’
In the blurb on the back of the book, Revd John W. Crossin, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, says:
‘Practical wisdom, good examples, and personal challenges fill this book. The 5 steps lead us to the practice of a deeper spiritual life – the life of love – which is essential to unity. This short book is a very helpful addition to the work of ecumenical dialogue.’
It can be obtained from: http://newcity.co.uk/Catalogue/Todaya-s-Issues/5-Steps-to-Living-Christian-Unity/prod_340.htm (Price £4, ISBN: 978-1-56548-501-3, 60 pages)
All you ever wanted to know?
A new book on Christian unity
Christians of different churches working together for the local community is an effective way doing unity and mission at the same time. It reflects the words of Jesus, recorded in various ways in all four gospels, that if we lose ourselves, we find ourselves.
Losing ourselves in love for the community makes us find ourselves in our deep reality: one Body. And, at the very same time, we give true witness to the One who urges to give ourselves, the One who makes us one. We give true witness to Jesus.
Society round about feels the need, even though it does not know always how to put it into words. The need is for Jesus, in the whole of what he brings, a personal relationship with God and a world transformed. The longing for a social transformation is why the Government has launched an initiative called 'Neighbourhood Planning'. It seeks to generate community involvement in planning issues. For Christians it offers a chance to serve the community by working in unity for it. In several areas, but especially where there is new planning, the churches are already involved in the process. Government figures suggest that, in all and with or without the churches, over 500 local areas are now engaged it.
There is a real opportunity here for ecumenical groups of various kinds to be of service. Churches Together in England have set up a website that can help: www.cte.org.uk/neighbourhoodplanning. Why not think about what you can do? It may well be that the churches in your area could take a lead or work alongside other community groups in this engagement with planning.
Feedback would be appreciated. Stories of what you have done can be shared through Churches Together in Hertfordshire (send stories, with pictures if possible, to facilitator[at]ctherts.org.uk).
Serving the Community
What is exciting about Receptive ecumenism is the new possibilities it offers in the search for Christian unity. No doubt that is why it is growing in popularity. Its modest approach offers massive dividends.
It starts with abandoning an unconscious attitude. We stop thinking of other Christians or churches: ‘If only they were a bit more like us, everything would be all right.’ And we start asking what we can learn from them. We begin to share their gifts.
The idea of sharing gifts in itself is nothing new and it seems simple. But in the fresh light of Receptive Ecumenism, it has potentially a series of almost seismic effects. It changes us while making us more ourselves; it changes others by making them realize who they are, and it changes the relationship between us, filling it with a spirit of humility, appreciation, empathy and deeper understanding.
It may seem strange that learning from one another does all this, until you think about it. So, if I learn what I can with integrity, then what I gain from the other strengthens me and helps me to be me in a better and more powerful way. And in the process of my seeing something I can learn, in effect I emphasize it for the other and they see their own identity more clearly. Indeed, they may see things about themselves that they never really noticed before. And, what is more, as we change through our relationship we are, of course, also seeing the other as valuable and coming to see more clearly why they are as they are.
One excellent thing about this process is that it doesn’t require anyone to be perfect or to have all of the gifts. However gifted by the Spirit a church may be, it cannot but have points at which it suffers, simply because it is made up not only of God’s grace but also of fallible human beings. Hence people involved in Receptive Ecumenism talk of healing gifts for wounded hands. It means finding things that help in whatever is our particular kind of weakness (not always the same for all).
It is also an academic study. For this reason it is having a big impact also in official conversations between the churches. ARCIC (the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission) has said how useful Receptive Ecumenism is in its work.
Indeed, in early June 2014 there was the Third International Receptive Ecumenism Conference, attended (as the name would suggest) by people from all over the world, including the UK. It was held at Fairfield University, Connecticut, USA, a beautiful, if somewhat rainy campus.
Practical examples and living witnesses were given of Receptive Ecumenism from places as far apart as Canada, Australia, South America and northern England. And a great deal of stimulating discussion took place. The key thing, however, was its demonstration of the potential of Receptive Ecumenism when applied.
A thought-provoking aspect of the conference was the host of papers given in other sessions, mostly in the afternoons. Among them were some that showed how Receptive Ecumenism is part of spiritual ecumenism, that is, of the ongoing conversion, the meeting together in God, the care for one another rooted in Gospel love, the prayer and the worship that are core to the search for Christian unity. Through its impact within spiritual ecumenism, it touches down solidly in the life of individual Christians.
Receptive Ecumenism is not only about listening to one another, therefore. It is also about a deeper spiritual life, collectively in our churches and personally too.
Christians of different Churches renew together their baptismal vows. Contributed by Fairfield University, USA
Group Photo: contributed by Fairfield University, USA
Christians of different Churches renew together their baptismal vows. Contributed by Fairfield University, USA
Well, it’s happened!
The Panel. From left to right: Paul Griffiths of the Ugly Ducking Company, Bishop Angaelos from the Coptic Orthodox Church, Mike Booker Jane Litchmore-Grant from the Church of God of Prophecy, Clare Ward from the Home Mission Deslk of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference
What a day. About 130 people from a huge selection of churches gathered together for Go for Growth. Outside the Focolare Centre for Unity, Hertfordshire, where it was held, the sun shone, a fitting reflection of what was taking place inside.
Churches Together in Hertfordshire had been working for over a year on the day. In the event, it all went smoothly. But was not the organization that stood out so much as the contributions.
The morning was taken up with a Panel made up, from left to right looking at the low stage, of Paul Griffiths of the Ugly Duckling Company (a man of original insight and refreshing expression, expert on outreach to the unchurched), Bishop Angaelos (of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who fascinated everyone with his wisdom and humour), Mike Booker (author and Anglican priest, who chaired with great skill, set the scene and brought with him tremendous understanding and knowledge), Jane Litchmore-Grant (of the Church of God of Prophecy, who gave an invaluable Pentecostal perspective and a warm insightful reply to questions) and Clare Ward (who shared the experience of the Roman Catholic Church’s Proclaim ’15 and grounded everything in a spirituality of practical love, a response to the encounter with the living Jesus).
All five began with an initial introduction and then took part in a conversation with everyone in the hall. The feeling in the hall was one of calm excitement, as practical suggestions, new ideas and inspiration emerged. As one man commented, ‘I could feel the Holy Spirit in all that was being said.’
Following a lunchtime where there were ‘market stalls’ displaying things, groups and initiatives that could inspire mission, everyone went into breakout groups. These were run by regional level church leaders and experts from different churches, in an attempt to share the experience of each with all. The range of groups was as wide as you could imagine it! It was a deepening of our learning how to learn from one another, in a deep listening that nourishes both listener and speaker.
The closing worship drew everyone into adoration of God, lifting minds and hearts to the infinite Beauty that God is. Its theme was of gathering up all things together in Christ (see Eph 1:10). Unity in him, in the end, is both the means and the end of all mission.
Pictures (for public use) can be found here
Treasuring the Riches of our Christian Neighbours
An evening to be remembered
It was the eve of St Agnes, 20 January 2016, and, as in the poem by Keats, ‘bitter chill it was’. But inside, in the Coptic Centre, a roaring fire was burning. This, however, was cool compared to the welcome that awaited.
In the presence of regional leaders of various Churches, 52 of us from across the denominations and across the world had come to pray during the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church, hosting the event together with Churches Together in Hertfordshire, welcomed us all. Other leaders were Bishop Alan Smith of St Albans, Revd Anne Brown the Methodist District Chair, Bishop John Sherrington auxiliary bishop in Westminster and outgoing chair of CTHerts, together with the incoming chair, Revd Stephen Copson, regional minister from the Central Baptist Association.
One highlight of the evening, as we prayed together for unity, was hearing Bishop Angaelos speak about the one Body of Christ suffering now in the Middle East. He addressed this as part his illuminating exposition of the Coptic tradition. Ten years ago 25% of the population in the whole of the region were Christians; now it is only 5%. Four of the five percent are in Egypt. But Christians, and their witness to Christ, are not going away. They offer their experience of what Christ has done and is doing among them to the societies where they live. Those of us elsewhere share in that work and sustain those in difficulty by their prayer. It is a call to open our hearts to these other members of the one Body.
Churches Together in Hertfordshire
Ben Ryan of Theos
will be speaking on
Finding a Soul for Europe
a reflection upon the spiritual implications of the political debate
19:30 – 20:30 business meeting
20:30 keynote speaker and discussion
4 May 2016
The Focolare Centre for Unity
Welwyn Garden City
Ben Ryan is a researcher at Theos Think Tank which seeks clear thinking on religion and society. An acute theologian and thinker, he is the author of the Theos reports A Very Modern Ministry: Chaplaincy in the UK and A Soul for the Union.