Mission - Companion Links
Guidelines for Companion Link Relationships in the Anglican Communion
Also Available En Espanol (With thanks to All Saints' Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois USA for the translation.)
From Towards Dynamic Mission: Renewing the Church
Mission Issues and Strategy Advisory Group II (MISAG II) 1993
Partnership in Mission is at the heart of relationships
within both the Anglican Communion and the wider Church. The Anglican Consultative
Council, meeting in Dublin in 1973, noted that while the responsibility
for mission in any given place belongs primarily to the local church in
that place, each part of the worldwide church also carries responsibility
for mission in every other place.
Such an understanding of `mutual responsibility and
inter.dependence in the Body of Christ' has led to the Partners in Mission
(PIM) process within the Anglican Communion. This process enables the local
church to analyze its own situation, develop its own priorities and decide
upon a strategy of implementation. Key to the process, however, is consultation
between the local church and its partners worldwide, who bring valuable
resources and different insights into ministry and mission from their own
cultures, nations and economic situations.
Companion relationships (also known as companion dioceses
and link dioceses relationships) are a growing and important part of this
PIM process. Companion relationships are people orientated, with the emphasis
on relationship. They exist for the purpose of face.to.face mutual support
and the strengthening of mission in the companions' own churches. Ideally,
they are living models of partnership in mission, engaging Christians from
the grass.roots in offerings of prayer, insight and expertise. The result
of companion relationships can be increased awareness of the single mission
to which all are called by God and solidarity in the cause of Christ.
Recognizing the growing popularity and importance of
companion relationships, the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in
Singapore in 1987, called for the development of Anglican Communion.wide
guidelines. Such guidelines were seen as a necessary discipline in enhancing
partnership both locally and globally and in honouring the PIM process
with its values of mutuality, accountability and transparency. To this
end, the following principles are offered.
Principles for Companion Relationships
- Who are the Companions?
- Companions should normally be at comparable levels in
church structures and of comparable size.
- While most companionships now reflect traditional mission
relationships (the 'North' .'South' model), different models should be
encouraged, for example:
'South' .'South'; one companion from the `North', two
from the 'South; and vice.versa; one from the 'West', one from the 'East',
one from the `South'.
All levels of the local community should participate
in the relationships: youth, women, lay people, clergy. The focus must
be on the Whole People of God, not simply church leadership.
- Establishing the Companion Relationship.
Planning for a companion relationship should involve
all sectors of the local church, the bishop's support being crucial, as
well as that of the diocesan synod or convention.
- The proposed companions must have the opportunity to
understand clearly what it is that is being proposed and why, and to know
each other's expectations. A process of self.analysis would be appreciated.
- The decision to enter a companion relationship must
be mutual. Such a decision is best taken in a face.to.face encounter during
which both theological and ecclesiastical issues are discussed with representatives
of the proposed partnership.
An intention to enter into companionship should be brought
to the attention of or endorsed by the companion's provincial synods, as
a means of promoting transparency and accountability within the PIM process.
- An agreement or covenant, whether formal or informal,
should be drafted between the companions, with particular reference to:
the length of the relationship;
an evaluation process.
Particular sensitivity to cultural contexts should be
shown in this covenanting process.
- Friendships formed during a companion relationship know
no time limits. However, the length of time of an initial companion relationship
should be fixed at a period of five years, with additional periods of extension
if mutually agreed upon.
- Areas of sharing
The emphasis of a companion relationship should be on
personal and spiritual sharing within the concrete life situations of the
companions. Face.to.face encounters are particularly important, and may
- proclamation and application of the Gospel;
- Bible study and theological reflections;
- intercession and worship;
- Exchange of information or strategies in issues of common concern;
- Exchange of ecumenical experiences;
- exchange of lifestyles in Christian witness.
- pastoral visits when there is need to demonstrate solidarity
- Other types of valuable sharing include:
exchange of leadership resources and mutual training
of leadership; and exchange of personnel.
- Companionship should grow towards standing with and
for the companion in its witness and action.
- The beginning and the ending of a companion relationship
should be mutually negotiated, and marked in some liturgical way.
- Ecumenical Elements
- The growing unity and partnership of the Anglican Communion
should serve the wider cause of Christian unity. Whenever possible an ecumenical
dimension should be present from the beginning of companion relationships.
- Local ecumenical participants should be involved in
both sides of the companionship, especially when receiving visitors from
the companion church. Thought should be given to including ecumenical representative
on visiting teams.
- Church.related groups dealing ecumenically with justice,
peace, inter.faith and other issues should be included in the companionship
- Projects and Funding
- A companion relationship should neither begin with a
funding project nor develop into a project.oriented relationship.
- If in the process of a companionship funding projects
are developed, no project should be dictated or imposed by one of the partners.
In consultation with their own national or provincial bodies, the companions
may decide together on the validity of any proposed project. In all cases,
priorities established at PIM Consultations should be respected.
- Companionship should foster trust in the integrity of
the whole Church. Inter.dependence should avoid any tendency or temptation
for the `North' to designate, or the `South' to solicit, financial aid.
- Evaluating the Companionship
Companion relationships are dynamic and should therefore,
include regular evaluation of theological and ecclesiastical issues. After
an agreed period of time, a major evaluation should be held, in a culturally.appropriate
way, during which the future of the formal relationship is determined.