Applications for Membership
The Irish Council of Churches (ICC) seeks to create spaces where Irish churches from all traditions may pray, dialogue and act together.
From its inception (1922) the Council has been based on a cooperative rather than a credal model for ecumenical endeavour. It nevertheless understands itself as basing its fellowship around an affirmation of Christian faith which – in company with other ecumenical bodies – proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures and seeks to fulfil a common calling to the glory of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.The ICC invites written applications for membership from:
Churches, or recognised associations of churches within one Christian tradition, having a reasonable spread of congregations on the island of Ireland; or Churches which, while only having a few worship centres on the island of Ireland, are part of much larger historic churches with significant membership in other places in the world.
Any church applying for membership should indicate that they:
- accept the constitution of ICC;
- have demonstrated evidence of inter–church engagement and commitment on this island;
- have their own church policies in place to protect children and the vulnerable using their facilities or service ministries;
- are committed to participate in the life of the Council’s activities;
- are committed to paying an annual subscription;
- are able to take an active part in the Annual General Meeting;
- accept that membership of the ICC involves active participation with the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland in the Irish Inter–Church Meeting;
- are broadly acceptable to the ICC member churches;
- have registered, or are in the process of registering, with the relevant charity regulatory authority/authorities.
In order for the relationship to work well, the membership process is reasonably long to allow both parties opportunity for good understanding and cooperation. The average application process takes approximately two years from start to finish.
The process begins with church writing a formal request for membership to the General Secretary, addressing the criteria above. The request is then brought to the attention of the ICC Executive Committee. The Officers and representatives of the Executive Committee will meet with those making the application, consult with others as needed, process the membership application further and then bring a recommendation to the next ICC Executive meeting.
If the recommendation is accepted, the Executive will then invite the church to nominate a representative to journey with and build relationships with the Executive for a probationary period of 12 months and determine an appropriate membership fee. The member church will be able to participate fully in all meetings and activities of the Council with the freedom to speak but not vote.
The ICC officers will undertake to support, monitor and at the end of this period, meet once again with the applicant church to determine if they are still to proceed with the application. The officers will then bring a recommendation to the ICC Executive to consider. The Executive will subsequently bring an appropriate resolution with rationale to the attention of Members of the Council to consider at the following AGM.
In considering an application for membership, the Council will take account of
- the beliefs, practices and history of the applicant church
- its relationships with other churches including the membership of the Irish Inter Church Meeting
- any other relevant information provided by any member church.
Any resolution for membership brought to an AGM requires the support of 75% of the member churches of ICC.
Terms of Membership
The effective functioning of the ICC requires the active participation of all its members, in a shared commitment to contribute to the development of Inter–Church relations throughout the island of Ireland.
As a minimum, members are required to demonstrate that commitment through:i) payment of the annual subscriptions for the ICC and the Irish Inter–Church Meeting, and ii) active participation in the work of the ICC and Inter–Church Meeting (i.e. attendance at meetings, events, contribution to working groups etc.).
In order to ensure fairness to all ICC members, the failure to comply with either of these two requirements during two consecutive years may lead to consideration by the ICC office–bearers of a recommendation to the Executive Committee for the termination of membership. The member in question will be notified in advance of this recommendation to the ICC Executive, and will have the opportunity to provide details of any mitigating circumstances.
In the event of a decision by the ICC Executive to terminate membership, the option to re–apply – should circumstances change in the future – will remain open. This will require the church to complete the two year application process, demonstrating that the requirements of ICC membership have been fully understood and that the church is now ready to participate in all aspects of the work of ICC.