Apostolic partnerships are one way in which parishes can engage in God’s mission. Their theological underpinning must lie in the very nature of the Church as the body of Christ, the primary sign and instrument of the kingdom of God and at the heart of God’s loving purposes and the salvific work of Christ. Therefore, the Church is at the heart of the missio dei and why she is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
Even though to date these partnerships have typically been from large urban churches, the desire is that all parishes in every sort of context and theological tradition can have the opportunity to partake in future partnerships. Therefore, the form an apostolic partnership takes will differ significantly depending on the circumstances for it to be effective missionally.
Apostolic partnerships are to be seen as part of the life of the whole diocesan household of faith, making the dimension of mutual learning and equipping for mission of central importance. This will largely be enabled through the department for Apostolic Life.There are some clear expectations set for when a member of clergy is asked to minister in a context that is not of their own church tradition in order that they can do so with integrity.
‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1.3-6)
The term ‘planting’ was first used officially in the 1994 report, ‘Breaking New Ground: Church Planting in the Church of England’. ‘Planting’ as a term today carries a great deal of baggage and can seem to lack mutuality. However, in our own time and in this diocese, the term ‘Apostolic Partnerships’ is seen as more helpful.
The Great Commission sets down some key features of mission and evangelism, which can be applied to apostolic partnerships in particular:
‘And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28.18-20)
On this page you can find the full policy document, which sets out the theology, principles, possible funding sources, forms, and processes.
You can also read a diverse range of case studies.
If you would like to discuss your ideas, please contact the parish development team.
It should be noted that the forms of apostolic partnerships set out are not exhaustive and the process and forms are currently being piloted. We would welcome feedback about this, which should be sent to Rebecca Swyer.