'Churches Together in Pilgrimage' is better known as the Marigold Book , which alludes to the colour of its cover, or rather it used to, as the book has been out of print for a long time. It was issued after the 1987 Swanwick Conference, towards the end of the Not Strangers but Pilgrims Interchurch Process , and detailed the new arrangements for ecumenism in the British Isles.
The link is to part of the Marigold Book, which can be found on Churches Together in England's website (09.10). This extract covers England only and it will do for now, as my context is England and this will help readers understand something of it.
The first thing that strikes me is, twenty years after it was introduced, the proposed structures seem to have stood up rather well. Some aspects are being reviewed, eg intermediate bodies and the enabling group, but overall it seems to have served England's churches rather well.
This is in no way to imply there are no problems and I will be exploring some criticisms of the British ecumenical scene in future posts. The Interchurch Process offered the churches an opportunity to make progress and so the question has to be whether they have made as much of this opportunity as they might have. I think we will find the issues facing these structures today come from two sources. Of these the primary is changes to the context the churches have worked in since the 1980s. The second is failure to grasp the opportunities presented by the new structures. I will attempt to identify, clarify and evaluate these in due course.
The England section of the Marigold Book is structured around three expressions of ecumenism; the local, intermediate and national structures. The intermediate level was an innovation at the time. Apparently it was developed to provide something that related to Roman Catholic structures although this is by no means obvious today It is unique to England because England is so much bigger than the other three nations.
Intermediate ecumenism has provided a voice for local ecumenical work on the national scene. County (or Intermediate) Ecumenical Officers (sometimes Ecumenical Development Officers these days) are represented on national committees and always available to National Ecumenical Officers for information and insights into the local scene.
I think the intermediate level will become more important to the future of ecumenism in Britain. Local ecumenism is increasingly different from national ecumenism. The stable model of a number of major national churches, has given way at local level to many small churches and congregations, with no national presence. As new structures develop over the coming years, intermediate bodies will be an important means to bridge local and national approaches.