Registered Charity No. 1117022
Revd Stephen Copson
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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.
An important update on charity obligations
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!
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
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
Commemorating the 1517 Reformation
From the Presidents of Churches Together in England who represent the Western traditions of the Church: The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), H.E. Cardinal Vincent Nichols (Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster), The Revd Dr Hugh Osgood (Free Churches Moderator), Bishop Eric Brown (Pentecostal President) and Billy Kennedy (The President nominated by the New Churches, the Religious Society of Friends (ie the Quakers) and the Lutheran and German-speaking Churches).
Their statement is issued with the prayerful support of the Orthodox President, HE Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain
Setting the tone
As Presidents of Churches Together in England we encourage all churches in England to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 with sensitivity as we acknowledge our unity in Christ. We have learnt over the past century that unity is achieved by walking together, and we have grown in communion, friendship, reconciliation and healing. During this anniversary we want to be able to listen to the truth that is in each other, to hear our different stories, and build bridges of deeper understanding and respect.
Speaking at the Inauguration Eucharist of the General Synod of the Church of England in November 2015, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, said, ‘The Christian world is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation. It is vital for the whole Church that this opportunity is not wasted by people remaining prisoners of the past, trying to establish each other’s rights and wrongs. Rather, let us take a qualitative leap forward, like what happens when the sluice gates of a river or a canal to enable ships to navigate at a higher water level. The situation has changed dramatically since then. We need to start again with the person of Jesus, humbly helping our contemporaries to experience a personal encounter with Him…Justification by faith, for example, ought to be preached by the whole Church – and with more vigour than ever. Not in opposition to good works – the issue is already settled – but rather in opposition to the claim of people today that they can save themselves thanks to their science, technology or man-made spirituality, without the need for a redeemer coming from outside humanity.’
Setting the scene
The course of the English reformation was long and complicated, whereas in most of what is now Germany and Switzerland it was sharp and short. That means that the anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses on 31st October 1517 is but one date in a long English history which lasted from Henry VIII’s break with Rome in 1532-36 to the Restoration Settlement of 1662. As religious wars convulsed Europe, Protestant and Catholic reformers alike sought with integrity and faithfulness to bring the church closer to the will of Christ. As they did so they lent shape to what became modern Europe. During England’s long reformation, streams of Christian life that we now call Catholic, Anglican and dissenting, were all present, and have been shaped by what they experienced.
We acknowledge with sorrow that during the years of the English reformation our ancestors in the faith inflicted unspeakable violence on each other. We rejoice, however, that by the grace of God we have learnt to look at that history through the eyes of each other’s martyrs, to appreciate their integrity, courage and self-sacrifice, and above all their faithful witness to God. As we commemorate the 500th anniversary, we want therefore to acknowledge both the good that came out of this period of our history, and also the pain inflicted and the scars that remain.
We therefore urge the churches in England to keep this anniversary together in the spirit of five ‘Rs’
Rejoicing – because of the joy in the gospel which we share, and because what we have in common is greater than that which divides; and that God is patient with our divisions, that we are coming back together and can learn from each other.
Remembering – because all three streams of the Reformation have their witnesses and one church’s celebration could be another’s painful memory; and yet all believed they acted in the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ for their time.
Reforming – because the Church needs always to grow closer to Christ, and therefore closer to all who proclaim him Lord, and it is by the mutual witness of faith that we will approach the unity for which Christ prayed for his followers.
Repenting – because the splintering of our unity led us to formulate stereotypes and prejudices about each other’s traditions which have too often diverted our attention from our calling as witnesses together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.
Reconciling – because the call to oneness in Christ begins from the perspective of unity not division, strengthening what is held in common, even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.
In national and local events, whether together or separately, we pray that our churches may honour each other and give thanks for our growing friendship and fellowship in the Gospel.
Statement issued 29 February 2016
A Moment to Remember
Evangelical Lutherans and Roman Catholics together opened the commemoration of the Reformation on 31 October 2016 in Lund Cathedral, Sweden. The actual commemoration will take place during 2017, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation, when (as the tradition has it) Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg. In a gesture of profound ecumenical significance, Pope Francis came to Lund where, 50 years ago, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was formed. He joined Dr Munib Younan, President of the LWF.
The service was co-hosted by the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm and highlighted ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans. It followed the Common Prayer liturgical guide, based on the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue report From Conflict to Communion. During the service the Five Ecumenical Imperatives laid out in Chapter 6 of From Conflict to Communion were signed by the Pope and Dr Younan on behalf of their churches. The Imperative became commitments.
The commitments speak beyond simply Catholic and Lutherans and offer inspiration for all work for Christian unity. They invite us 1) to begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division in all our relationships, 2) to let ourselves be continuously transformed by our encounter with one another and by our mutual witness of faith, 3) to commit ourselves again to seeking visible unity, working out what this means in concrete steps, 4) to rediscover jointly the power of the gospel for our time, and 5) to witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.
The event was held in two parts. Following the service in Lund Cathedral, there was a public event at Malmö Arena. While the Cathedral service deal with overcoming past division, in the Arena the focus was upon common witness in the face of humanity’s challenges today. Everything was bathed in a blue light. On a platform in the form of a cross set up in front of the stage, were four speakers, each at one point of the cross. Sunemia Bisawasi, a 26-year-old environmental scientist from India, spoke of the catastrophic effects of climate change especially upon the poor; Fr Hector Gavira, from Colombia, told of his country’s struggle to end its civil war, and the tragedy of events such as the 2002 church-bombing that killed a hundred people; Rose Lokonyen, a 23-year-old woman from South Sudan described her joy at taking part in the 2016 Olympic Games’ refugee team; and Marguerite Barakitsee, a refugee from the 1993 genocide in Burundi, related how she had established a Maison Shalom (House of Peace) to care for orphaned children. She challenged everyone to be crazy like her, as she put it, in striving to live by love alone.
In the Cathedral service, Pope Francis spoke all who care for Christian unity and wish to leave behind the errors of the past. He said that it is necessary to recognize that ‘our division distanced us from the primordial intuition of God’s people, who naturally yearn to be one, and it was perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world rather than the faithful people, which always and everywhere need to be guided surely and lovingly by its good shepherd.’
A pastoral message from CTE's Presidents
A pastoral message from the Presidents to all engaged in the work of Churches Together, locally, at intermediate level and nationally.
As the feast of Pentecost dawned, we learnt of another appalling terrorist attack in London, the third attack within weeks. It is therefore important that we say clearly alongside our fellow faith leaders that such horrific acts are abhorrent to God and to all people of faith. Life is precious, the gift of God, and it is to be prized… Read full message
Treasuring the Riches of our Christian Neighbours
A New Departure
A new understanding and a joy in worshipping together characterized the Week of Prayer for Christian unity this year. On Tuesday 24 January 2017 the regional Church Leaders gathered from the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic and United Reformed churches in Knebworth’s Trinity Methodist-United Reformed church. The service was hosted by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), a Pentecostal church with its roots in Nigeria.
Pastor Femi Popoola of the RCCG, who has regional responsibility, introduced his church’s experience of life and mission. He spoke to about 60 people. After prayer there was fellowship, with refreshments provided by the RCCG.
It is the beginning of a deeper conversation. Learning how to love God together is first step in learning to love one another. And the taste of joy was the fruit of being together as one.
Love Conquers All
Although some people sadly fall under the spell of hatred masked as striking a blow for goodness, Christians stand alongside their brothers and sisters of all faiths. We all seek to build a better world where God’s will of love lived out among people shall triumph.
The leaders of the Churches Together in England have published their response the attack in Finsbury Park. God is never honoured by the opposite of his goodness and all pray for those who imagine it could be otherwise.
Grants for mission
An opportunity for grants to aid work for the Kingdom has emerged from the wave of prayer called Thy Kingdom Come that swept across the nation in the days leading up to Pentecost this year. Each day, from 25 May to 4 June, people prayed that others too should have the chance to know Jesus. Now, aided by a fund, Christians of all traditions can work for the fulfilment of that same prayer.
Behind Thy Kingdom Come was an initiative of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury in 2016 which soon spread across the world. It caught the imaginations of many, and this year it has been even bigger. The 2017 conclusion in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire was a moving Pentecost Service in St Albans Cathedral. A collection was taken, and the proceeds were to be split between paying for the event itself and setting up a fund for local mission. This is the money now on offer. The collection raised £1400 for mission!
The money is being given in 7 grants of £200 each, with a preference for outreach with an ecumenical dimension. Any Christian group in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire may apply. The form can be found here…