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.
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.
At Sturry, the regular church services use either the Methodist forms of service or the Church of England forms of service.
We have one Church Council covering both denominations; we are full members of the Anglican Deanery and the Methodist circuit; our Rector is both ordained within the Anglican and Methodist traditions.
Baptism, marriage and funerals are led by ministers of both traditions, and congregation members who are confirmed at Sturry become both fully Anglican and fully Methodist - or, for the sake of simplicity, a follower of Jesus.
Where it first began...
Discussions about merging the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain began in the early 1960's, but after plans were abandoned in 1965 for a national merger, local plans sprang up instead. On 15th April 1964, the church council 'welcomed and [were] excited by the proposals'. A formal agreement for sharing buildings, worship and ministry was concluded on 18th September 1970.
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.
On the 19th September 2010, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the partnership!
Want to read more?
Here is the talk given by Revd Peter Cornish at the joint Anglican Methodist synod in November 2002
Here is a Church Times article from December 2001 on the partnership.