Article for Together in Christ - A Phoenix rises from the Ashes

9 July 2019

In September 2018, I attended a Forum meeting of the Archdiocese of Southward Christian Unity Commission. A discussion took place on ecumenical activity in local areas to share and offer support. I was very pleased to be able to give an encouraging report on the work of Churches Together in Carshalton since it’s inauguration in January 2017.

Many years previously, Carshalton Council of Churches (as it was then known) had flourished, organising the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness, Lent House Groups, Joint House Visiting Schemes and other activities. High Profile speakers were invited to the Services during Christian Unity Week. In time, communications between clergy and laity weakened and joint working lapsed.  This was a source of great sadness to local Christians who were supporters of ecumenism and who felt the loss of a unifying forum.

In 2015 Knowing that the will of the people was to reinvigorate ecumenical activity, John Dodwell, parishioner of Holy Cross RC Church contacted all interested parties to establish a Working Party which reinstated the Good Friday Walk. New local Council regulations governing insurance and risk assessments had led do it’s cancellation the previous year. The Working Party then proposed the adoption of a simple constitution to be agreed by all member churches..

How was interest to be generated and financed? The answer was an event to bring all together as one.  A special screening of the film “Walking the Camino – 6 Ways to Santiago” was held at the Carshalton Methodist Church Hall.  After the screening, John sought to gauge opinion on the future vision for Churches Together and the strength of support from local people. The result was a number of people provided contact details to show interest in future events and a commitment to being involved. Donations given on the night were used to help finance the setting up of the Forum.

The constitution of Churches Together was based on the national Churches Together model with some amendments to reflect local circumstances. Seven member churches were signed up with an agreement to pay a small annual levy towards running expenses. The Forum was formally inaugurated in January 2017 with election of officers and two members from each of the member churches.

During 2017 Churches Together planned and organised the Good Friday Walk of Witness, held a service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, supported the Lent House Groups, organised a talk by Bishop Paul Hendricks on the lessons learnt from Luther. In 2018 the range of events has expanded to include a Service held to celebrate Pentecost, and a CTiC stall at the Sutton Environmental Fair.  A documentary showing of the Life of Frank Buchman highlighted his world peace initiatives. Links with other Churches Together Groups in South London are encouraged.

Churches Together in Carshalton has grown in strength and influence in the short time since January 2017.  There is still much more that can be done but with the support of local clergy and with lay people taking on key roles, ecumenism is beginning to bear fruit locally. 

I hope that our story can give hope and inspiration to other localities who would dearly love to encourage ecumenism among their fellow Christian Churches.

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Some of the Team in August 2018 – Working well together

Our mission statement is “Growing together as Christians, through prayer, worship exploring faith, responding to need and witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Alex Faircloth

Secretary

Churches Together in Carshalton

January 2019