RepositoryChurch of England Record Centre
LevelSubfonds
Alt Ref NoBCC/DEA
Extent964 entries
TitleDivision of Ecumenical Affairs (DEA)
Date1942-1990
DescriptionThe archives includes papers relating to DEA's predecessors, namely the Faith & Order Department (1942-1968) and the Department of Mission & Unity (1968-1974) but mostly concentrates on the work of the DEA. This was primarily concerned with promoting and serving 'the churches' pilgrimage together towards unity,' at local, national and international levels. The work was activated by a number of permanent committees, and by initiatives arising from working groups; association with committees concerned with women's issues, adult and theological education, black and white christian partnership; local ecumenism and local ecumenical projects in England.

The Faith & Order Department papers include minutes, correspondence files, and material on the Nottingham Conference of 1964, which passed a series of resolutions which centred on the hope that by Easter 1980 the British Churches would have found the road to unity. The Department of Mission & Unity files include papers on the various permanent committees such as the Committee on Mission, the Theological Advisory Group, and the Committee for Unity in Prayer.

Unity discussions - The papers reflect the ups and downs in the various unity discussions, which occured during this period. These include the Churches Unity Commission in England which began its work in October 1974 and which led to the Ten Propostions and the subsequent Conversation on the Covenant proposals parallel to those taking place in Wales, Ireland & Scotland.

Local Ecumenism - The papers reflect relationships with many local councils of churches. In 1978, it was reckoned that only half of the local councils of churches were affiliated to the BCC and communication was always a problem. The DEA attempted to overcome this with publications, conferences, consultations and through the network of ecumenical officers and councils. The archive includes papers on the Greater London Churches Consultative Group and on Areas of Ecumenical Experiment, as well as on the Consultative Committee for Local Ecumenical Projects in England.

Theological Questions - During the existence of the DEA, it was responsible for three major pieces of work and study in this area: 1) Christian Initiation, the DEA had set up a consultation on confirmation and baptism, which led to the Report 'One Body, many members' in 1988. This had grown out of a need to look beyond the common certificate on baptism, which had been introduced in the early 1970s. The latter had itself been the result of an inter-church enquiry into baptismal practice, which had also looked at practices in other faiths and countries; 2) The response of the British and Irish churches to the BEM (Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry). The DEA was responsible for promoting local study into the Lima Report and also for monitoring responses to it; 3) The Forgotten Trinity, a Commission was set up to look at the importance of trinitarian doctrine and also why it had receded in importance in the life and being of the western churches. This prompted amongst other things by the needs of the orthodox members of the BCC, as well as by recent work by the World Council of Churches.
Other issues covered include discussions to establish a mfixed date for easter, and the Urban Theology Unit.

Particular conerns - In 1975 a Women's Unit was identified as a priority. Unfortunately, finance was and has continued to be a problem and the unit was never set up during the lifetime of the BCC. However, achievements in this area have included the Report of the Humanity and Sexuality Group entitled 'God's Yes to Sexuality' and the Women's Inter-Church Consultative Committee. Other concerns highlighted include collaborative ministry, Christian stewardship, resource sharing and gospel and culture.

Youth - The Youth Unit since 1974 has been part of DEA rather than a department in its own right, although it has continued to act on behalf of the whole council (please see BCC/YD for these records).

Subject to 30 year rule.
AppraisalMaterial to be kept permanently
AccrualsNo further accruals expected
CreatorNameBritish Council of Churches
AdminHistoryThe Division of Ecumenical Affairs (DEA) replaced the Department for Mission & Unity in 1974, which had been going since 1968. The latter had replaced the Faith & Order Department in 1968, which had been going since 1942, originally called the Evangelism Department. The DEA area of focus included the following: unity; local ecumenism, theological questions, youth (taking over Youth Department in 1974, which was then renamed as the Youth Unit).
CustodialHistoryThe collection was deposited at CERC by the BCC in 1990.
RelatedMaterialFor records relating to the Youth Unit, please see sub fonds BCC/YD.
PublnNoteThirty Years of the British Council of Churches, 1942-1972 by Ernest C. Payne
The work of the Boards volume 1, British Council of Churches Thirty Second Assembly, 96th meeting of the Council 1990 "Least spectacular but still important" the Division of Ecumenical Affairs 1974-1989.

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Related name records
CodeNameDates
GB/109/22221British Council of Churches; Division of Ecumenical Affairs; 1974-19901974-1990
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