Chapter 8: Ecumenical Matters

1.  Key Words

Cytûn (the Welsh word for together) – Churches Together in Wales. This replaced the Council of Churches for Wales in 1990 as an umbrella organisation to represent churches in Wales, and involves the Roman Catholic Church as a full member. Cytûn address is 58 Richmond Road, Cardiff, CF24 3UR, 029 2046 4204, post@cytun.org.uk
The Commission of Covenanted Churches exists to facilitate the creation of a united and uniting episcopal / non-episcopal Church in Wales. The members of the Commission are the Church in Wales, Covenanted Baptist Churches, the Methodist Church, The Presbyterian Church of Wales and the United Reformed Church. Enfyss address is the same as that of Cytun.

2.  Constitutional Provision on Ecumenical Co-operation

In September 1974 the Bishops of the Church in Wales asked that the utmost consideration be given to the Lund dictum of 1952 that the (covenanted) Churches should ‘act together in all matters, except those in which deep differences or conviction compel them to act separately. This was formally endorsed by a unanimous vote in the Governing Body (March 1994). Over the years closer relationships have been facilitated through the following Canons or statements:

  • A Canon was promulgated For Covenanting between the Church in Wales and other Churches for Union in Wales (May 1974 and September 1977)
  • The Canon for The Relationship of Churches in Covenant to work and pray for Union (agreed September 1974)
  • The Canon for the Admission to Holy Communion and Inter-communion with Covenanted Churches (agreed April 1975)
  • A Canon was promulgated to promote Ecumenical Relations (Holy Matrimony) which permitted Clerics of the Church in Wales (subject to certain provisos) to officiate at Marriage Services in Free Church buildings (September 1985)
  • A Canon was promulgated  ‘To permit the establishment of Local Ecumenical Projects (September 1991)
  • Two Canons were promulgated, the first ‘To Support Relations with Other Churches, and the second  ‘To Permit the Establishment and Support of Local Ecumenical Partnerships (April 2005).

The developing process might well include the following stages.

3.  Making contact and developing co-operation

Each parish will normally have within its boundaries churches of other traditions – Roman Catholic and Free Church. Some of these churches may have a resident priest/minister, many may not. All should have some contact persons such as the church secretary. The parish priest needs to be aware of ministers and lay people of other traditions working in the same area. The Anglican Church has no ‘Special Status (other than with regard to the solemnisation of marriages and burials) in Wales since disestablishment. If a parish wishes to pursue closer co-operation then it should not do so by deciding on a pattern and seeking to impose it, but rather through a willingness to plan together from the start. If other churches are to be involved, always consult before you decide upon a course of action; each diocese has an ecumenical officer.

4.  Levels or degrees of joint activity

In some areas ecumenical involvement may be friendly but peripheral, no more than a nominal membership of a local Cytûn  or Council of Churches, participation together for example in Christian Aid Week, a sharing of worship during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and One World Week.

5.  Local Covenants

In other areas where ecumenical collaboration is more advanced there may be a desire to worship more frequently together and to study and work more closely.  A local Covenant – solemnly made and publicly agreed at an appropriate service could provide the stimulus for a more structured and continuous process of growing closer together.  This might be a suitable instrument for churches in areas where local ecumenical relationships have developed, but have not yet reached the level of agreement or commitment necessary for becoming a formal Local Ecumenical Partnership.

6.  Local Ecumenical Partnerships

A more determined and committed relationship might well benefit through the establishment of a Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP). This would be covered by the Canon to Permit the Establishment and Support of Local Ecumenical Partnerships, 7 April 2005. The process of setting up an LEP begins by informing the Bishop. The Bishop, having reached agreement with the appropriate authorities of each participating Church, and also having received the consent of the Bench of Bishops, Diocesan Conference, PCC and Incumbent, can then authorise the setting up of an LEP. Similarly, after consultation with the appropriate authorities mentioned above, new regulations can be made or the project ended.

7.  What is permissible within an LEP?

  1. Anglicans
    1. A cleric, licensed lay minister or other member of the Church in Wales may perform within a Covenanted Church any duty similar to a duty which he or she is authorised to perform within the Church in Wales.
    2. In the case of a service of Holy Communion, the form of service used must be the one authorised by the Commission of the Covenanted Churches. Otherwise, the approval of the diocesan bishop must be sought.
    3. In the case of an invitation to take part in the ordination or consecration of a minister of another Church, the approval of the diocesan bishop must be sought.
    4. With the Bishops approval and authorisation, together with other safeguards, a cleric, licensed minister or any member of the Church in Wales so authorised, can attend, speak, and vote at meetings of the Church or Churches concerned.

Non-Anglican

  1. A minister or other baptized member of a participating  Church holding the Trinitarian Faith and administering the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion may be invited by the incumbent of a parish:
    1. to lead Morning or Evening Prayer or other non- sacramental service;
    2. to read the Holy Scriptures at any service;
    3. to preach at any service;
    4. to read the Litany, to lead the intercessions at the Eucharist and to lead prayers at other services;
    5. to conduct a Baptism service;
    6. to assist at a Marriage service, save for the solemnization of the marriage;
    7. to conduct a Funeral service;
    8. to assist in the distribution of the elements at the Eucharist;
    9. to preside at the Eucharist according to the form or forms of service authorised by the Commission of the Covenanted Churches;
    10. to administer the Communion of the Sick.

    Provided that:

    1. that person is authorised to perform the same or a similar duty in his or her own Church;
    2. the authorities of his or her own Church have consented to his or her so officiating;
    3. he or she has agreed to be bound by the constitution of the Local Ecumenical Project;
    4. in the case of (v), (vi) and (vii) above, the persons concerned have requested the incumbent to give the invitation;
    5. the Eucharist shall be presided over by an ordained minister, and notice of the holding of such a service has been given on the previous Sunday, indicating the form of the service to be used and the denomination to which the minister  who is to preside belongs.
  2. From time to time, a bishop may, after consultation with the appropriate authorities of each participating Church, authorise ministers or other baptized members of participating Churches to officiate within an LEP.  Such ministers and lay members can also be authorised to attend, speak and vote at Area Decanal Conferences, Chapters, Vestry and PCC meetings.  Where necessary such a minister can reside within the parsonage being subject to the same responsibilities for that building as would apply if he or she were a cleric of the Church in Wales.
  3. A member in good standing of the Religious Society of Friends or of the Salvation Army may be invited by the incumbent of a parish to perform any or all of the duties specified in Section 1 above, with the exception of sub-paragraphs (v), (vii), (ix) and (x), Provided that:
    1. in the case of the Salvation Army, he or she is authorised to perform the same or a similar duty in the Salvation Army;
    2. in the case of 1(vi) and 1(vii) above, the persons concerned have requested the incumbent to give the invitation;
    3. the authorities of the Religious Society of Friends or of the Salvation Army, as the case may be, have given their consent;
    4. the person has agreed to be bound by the constitution of the Local Ecumenical Project.

8.  Marriage

As from 1 October 1985 it has been lawful for a cleric of the Church in Wales to officiate at a marriage service in a place of religious worship in Wales, other than a Church in Wales church, provided that place has been registered for marriages. The cleric must on each occasion be licensed by the Bishop to officiate in a place or places which include the proposed building; the cleric must be authorised to officiate in the building concerned for the purposes of the Marriage Act 1979, or a registrar must be present (the clerics own status as registrar which would apply for a Church in Wales marriage in a Church in Wales building does not apply); he must use a form of service approved by the bishop; have the consent of the trustees; and must ensure that there is no impediment in Canon Law to the marriage of the couple. The cleric must on no account use any Church in Wales or Church of England rite.
See also: Churches Together in Marriage: Pastoral Care of Inter-church Families (with a foreword by Bishop Huw Jones) published by CTE and Cytûn  (1994).

9.  Shared Church Buildings

Two or more of the denominations named in the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1989 may make arrangements called Sharing Agreements for the sharing by them of an existing or proposed church building. Agreements are entered into by the Representative Body of the Church in Wales with the consent of the Bishop, and the Incumbent and churchwardens. Agreements must make provision for the financial and other obligations of the parties concerned in respect of the management of the building. A Joint Council may be established as part of the Agreement with an acceptable proportional representation of the denominations involved.
Sharing agreements relate to sharing the use of buildings – not to the sharing of worship. However, the many opportunities now available within the Church in Wales should facilitate the introduction of shared worship, if the participating denominations and Joint Council desire it.
For further details about shared buildings see – Under One Roof: Guidelines to the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1969 (Revised 1994) Published by CTBI in association with CTE and Cytûn.

10.  Contact

Further advice on ecumenical matters is available from:                                             The Bishops Adviser on Church Affairs                                                                        The Church in Wales                                                                                                      39 Cathedral Road,                                                                                                       Cardiff,                                                                                                                        CF11 9XF                                                                                                                        029 2034 8200