LEP - Local Ecumenical Partnership
What is an LEP?
An LEP (Local Ecumenical Partnership) is an agreement where Christians of different denominations work and worship together.
Presentation to the joint Anglican-Methodist synod (November 2002)
You may view a copy of the talk given by Revd Peter Cornish at the joint Anglican Methodist synod in November 2002.
Sturry LEP was reported in the Church Times (December 2001)
You may view a copy of the News Article or look at the Church Times website (accessible from the Links page of this website).
How does it work today?
There are Christians from different backgrounds worshipping and working together. The regular church services use either the Methodist forms of service or the Church of England forms of service.
We now have one Church Council covering both denominations and all of our villages; we are full members of both the Anglican Deanery and the Methodist circuit; our Methodist Minister and Anglican Rector are co-pastors within the parish - and both lead worship according to both traditions. Baptism, marriage and funerals are administered by ministers of either denomination, depending on diary commitments, and at confirmation candidates have not two but four hands laid on them - Anglican bishop and Methodist minister - so that they emerge as full members of both Churches.
Here the Sturry LEP is part of the Anglican Deanery of Canterbury, Diocese of Canterbury, and at the same time is part of the North-East Kent Methodist Circuit and the London South-East District of the Methodist Church.
The History of the Sturry and District LEP
In the early 1960's the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain had begun conversations which came to naught in 1965 when the Church of England voted against a scheme for unity which the Methodists had already approved.
However in many places schemes for co-operation emerged between local Methodist and Anglican Churches. In Sturry the St Nicholas Parochial Church Council recorded 'we generally welcomed and are excited by the proposals...' and a report was unanimously received on April 15th 1964.
Four years later, the Rev'd Peter Gausden was inducted as Vicar of Sturry and during the next few years a scheme for sharing buildings, worship and ministry evolved which, as Anglican parish boundaries changed, gradually incorporated Westbere and Hersden. This led to a formal agreement; a service to inaugurate a scheme of co-operation between the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Sturry, Westbere and Hersden on September 18th 1970. Fordwich was incorporated in the parish a little later.
Since then the two denominations have grown together; the Joint Church Council was formally set up in 1982, and the formal Sharing Agreements allowing the Methodist and Anglican-owned buildings to be used by the other denomination were signed in 1988.
The 40th Anniversary of the United Church was celebrated on the 19th September 2010, with the Bishop of Dover joining in.
On September 17th 2000, there was a United Holy Communion / Covenant Service to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Local Ecumenical Partnership in Sturry and district churches. This was then followed by a lunch at Sturry church.