A Brief History of the Mission Partnership

When the brand new city of Milton Keynes was designated on 23rd January 1967, an Inter-Church committee was convened to accept the principle that the Churches should act together in all matters except where deep differences of conviction compelled them to act separately.

Ecumenical proposals were submitted in March 1970 and incorporated into the Development Corporation’s “Master Plan”. It was a first for a New Town Plan to include a section from the churches acting together and MK has broken new ground from then on. The realisation of the aspiration was long and difficult to achieve and many people worked and prayed hard for its accomplishment.

In the late seventies it became clear that an Ecumenical Planning Officer funded by the denominations was needed to give a coherent lead from the churches speaking with a single voice. In 1981 Rev Gethin Abraham–Williams was appointed as the Ecumenical Officer and by 1982 a new Christian Council came into being, with a Presidency, an Executive and the Ecumenical Assembly which met three times a year.

The Presidency was formed by the five leaders of the participating denominations and the Assembly elected a Lay Chair to ensure lay participation.

There was much building of new churches within new local ecumenical partnerships and these were designed to be shared by the participating denominations. The older traditional churches were incorporated as well. New teams represented most of the denominations within each partnership.

The next Ecumenical Officer, Rev Hugh Cross, took the title of Ecumenical Moderator in 1990 and he was in post when the building of the Church of Christ the Cornerstone was completed.

In 1996 Hugh was succeeded by Rev Murdoch McKenzie and in 2003 Rev Dr Mary Cotes became the last Ecumenical Moderator. During Mary’s time in MK, a Review into the working of the Mission Partnership was carried out and the findings revealed some ambiguities and legal misunderstandings of the role.

Fresh clarity of purpose enabled the Mission Partnership to analyse carefully what it could do and led to the appointment of a Director of Ecumenical Mission in 2012 to focus on all aspects of Mission in the city. There is a new vision which includes working with other Christian groups and churches in the city, as well as the traditional denominations which had hitherto supported the Mission Partnership.

So we are embarking on a new chapter with clear challenges.