Ecumenical Mission Communities in the County of Cumbria: An Interrogation of the Impact of Implementation on Chaplaincy Models
AbstractIn 2014 Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army and United Reformed churches in Cumbria came together under a formal covenant to form ‘Mission Communities’. The stated intention for these new groupings was to resolve to seek out every opportunity for joint initiatives: to work together to equip both lay and ordained ministry – and to share buildings and resources wherever possible. Mission Communities were to share a common evangelistic emphasis under the banner of ‘God for All’. This thesis identifies that the ecumenical and evangelistic nature of the new, imposed structure has been the cause of a disconnect between chaplains and Mission Communities. The research question addressed throughout is, ‘What is the impact of Mission Communities on chaplaincy models in Cumbria?’ After tracing the historical development of Mission Communities, due to the needs of the research I identified all the chaplains in the county and offered every one of them the opportunity to participate by expressing their perception of how the introduction of Mission Communities has impacted upon their work and ministry. A thematic analysis of responses extrapolates that five significant issues arise: ecumenism, same-sex relations, sacraments, the role of women in Christian leadership and episcopacy. The weight of the collective view on each of these issues is balanced against an alternative view and then synthesised into a summary of the theological and practical impact as a whole. Whilst the purpose of this research was to identify early impact with a view to informing the wider church of the implications of reorganising in this way, the results are mixed and reflect the issues that were uppermost in church conversation at the time the research was conducted. It may provide the foundation for a longitudinal study at the conclusion (in 2020) of the Cumbrian outreach initiative ‘God for All’, when ecumenical Mission Communities in Cumbria will have been established for four years and a second phase of impact can be assessed. Three outcomes were envisaged: 1) To provide denominational leaders with a basis on which to assess the impact that their decisions have made on ordained and lay ministers across Cumbia. 2) To encourage chaplains to assess how they engage and function with Mission Communities after identifying themselves and/or their colleagues in this study. 3) To be of practical use to those of the wider church who may be in the process of exploring similar changes. To this end, the thesis concludes with a clear set of recommendations to enable chaplains and Mission Communities to reconnect.
CitationJones, G. (2020). Ecumenical Mission Communities in the County of Cumbria: An Interrogation of the Impact of Implementation on Chaplaincy Models (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, UK.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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