1. What is an Ecumenical Shared Ministry?
It is people worshipping and serving God in a unified way while still maintaining their denominational identity and connections.
It is any combination of denominations sharing a program, mission, ministry or building.
2. What do Ecumenical Shared Ministries look like?
Ecumenical shared ministries take many forms.
- They may be as simple as sharing programs and/or staff.
- Some congregations may share a building only and otherwise maintain their own denominational ministry and services.
- Sometimes several denominations may have one ordained minister and alternate the forms of worship of the participating denominations.
- Sometimes several denominations may have one ordained minister and one common service that meet the needs and requirements of each denomination.
- Sometimes several denominations share and maintain church buildings in a number of locations and rotate services.
Many other combinations are possible, but the primary focus of this Handbook is on congregational shared ministries.
3. Who might consider an Ecumenical Shared Ministry?
Faith communities who are looking for fellowship and want to worship together in a caring, welcoming Christian church.
Faith communities who want to retain their denominational identities and are willing to explore opportunities to join with others to strengthen their ministries.
Faith communities with a vision of common worship, witness and service.
4. How are ordained ministers found for Ecumenical Shared Ministries?
Selection of an ordained minister for an Ecumenical Shared Ministry is a joint responsibility of the local Ecumenical Shared Ministries and the appropriate denominational authorities (judicatories).
An ordained minister from one of the participating denominations would be called to serve.
An ordained minister eligible to receive a call in her/his denomination who is willing to respect the needs and requirements of the participating denominations while focusing on common aspects and building on them would serve.
The specific needs of the Ecumenical Shared Ministry would be clearly outlined in a parish profile to provide opportunity for applicants responding to a call to be as informed as possible.
5. How is an Ecumenical Shared Ministry supported?
Each participating denomination should provide some initial financial support until the congregation becomes self-supporting.
The participating denominational authorities should visit, provide counsel and contribute to the life of the Ecumenical Shared Ministries in the same way they do for an individual denominational ministry.
6. When are Ecumenical Shared Ministries formed?
They are most often formed when there are two or more small congregations who cannot support themselves. Formerly this was in rural communities; now it is also occurring in urban centres. These congregations continue to have a common need for Christian fellowship and a strong desire to worship God together. They are also formed when faith communities of different denominations believe that they will be better able to provide Christian outreach and ministry together rather than separately.
7. Why is an Ecumenical Shared Ministry a good alternative?
- It may allow a Christian congregation to exist where otherwise it couldn’t.
- It provides a more unified Christian witness to a community.
- It may be more economical.
- It provides more opportunity for programs (e.g. Church choirs, Sunday Schools) not always possible in very small congregations.
8. Where can someone learn more about an Ecumenical Shared Ministry?
Contact your denominational office or the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism (see list in the Introduction).