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Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 16:06 UK
Church partnership marks 40 years
St Giles Church, Desborough
St Giles Church is home to both Anglicans and Methodists

A special service has been held to mark 40 years of partnership between Anglicans and Methodists.

In 1969, parishioners from both denominations in Desborough, near Kettering, agreed to pray together at St Giles Church.

Forty years on, services at St Giles are shared. Children are baptised into both traditions.

The Methodist minister, the Reverend Margaret Eales, says it is an "excellent example of co-operation."

Joint membership

The partnership means that a single church service is followed, conducted by either a Church of England vicar or a Methodist Minister.

Members of St Giles are considered to be jointly members of the Anglican and Methodist churches.

Confirmations are carried out jointly by the Bishop and the Methodist Superintendant Minister.

ST GILES CHURCH
Built around 1225
The spire is 42m high
The tower originally had five bells

The Reverend Margaret Eales says the partnership works well in practice: "Denominations often seem to make barriers rather than encouraging people to work openly together."

According to Mrs Eales, most members of the congregation do not think of themselves as members of the Church of England or of the Methodist Church: "People see themselves more as members of St Giles than members of a denomination," she says.

Working together

The partnership was forged in the 1960s when the four protestant churches in Desborough met to discuss stronger links. The Baptists, Congregationalists, Anglicans and Methodists decided that there should be a single protestant church in the town.

The Baptists and Congregationalists stepped back from the agreement but the Church of England and the Methodist Church decided to share St Giles Church.

Initially the two denominations held separate services but in 1972, the Church Council agreed to hold a single service. An Act of Parliament was required for this to happen.

Denominations often seem to make barriers.
The Reverend Margaret Eales

The 'St Giles Rite' is a communion and baptism service which embraces both traditions.

"We never have Methodist worship alone, or Anglican worship alone," adds Mrs Eales.

Until recently, two chalices were offered during communion: one containing alcoholic wine and one with non-alcoholic wine. Now, only non-alcoholic wine is offered.

'Cohesive unit'

Since the St Giles Rite was created, Local Ecumenical Partnerships have been established across the country which bring different denominations closer together.

The Reverend Margaret Eales believes that the partnership at St Giles is more successful than most LEPs: "This is much more of a cohesive unit," she says. Members of the congregation, she says, are not "hung up about what title you choose to give yourself."

During a special service at St Giles in September 2009, church leaders from both the Church of England and the Methodist Church reconfirmed the partnership between the two denominations at St Giles.




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