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Lincoln-Brugge-Nottingham Ecumenical Link

An ecumenical link between the Anglican Diocese of Lincoln and the Catholic Diocese of Brugge (also known as Bruges) was established in 1979, and two years later the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham became the third party to that link.

Close dialogue takes place between the three Dioceses, and there are regular meetings and exchanges between bishops, priests, choirs, catechists, pastoral workers, parish councils, professors and seminarians, social groups, youth organisations and schools. These are steps on the long way to friendship and unity.

The symbolic three-arched bridge was adopted in 1996 during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Link aims to be a meeting-place for those not only from Lincoln, Brugge and Nottingham, but also for Christians from other churches and for all who want to build bridges to connect with one another. The Link wants to be a sign of hope and an invitation for friendship between the faithful from different churches, between countries and peoples. The Link wants to be a place of reflection and prayer on the way to unity.

Lord Jesus Christ
We pray for unity:
unity between all who confess your name
unity between people of all nations and races
unity within families.

Let the flame of unity burn in our hearts
and not be extinguished by the wind of division.

Let us not become divided, broken, hostile,
but enfold us with the seamless garment
woven from a single cloth
in which you suffered for us.

For further information contact any member of the English Link Committee.


Every five years the work of Lincoln-Brugge-Nottingham Link is reviewed. This year's review took place at Virgo Fidelis Brugge Diocesan Centre, Groenhove from 21 to 23 March, 2006. This is the report on what happened at that review.

Those participating were:
Revv. Henk Laridon, Kurt Priem, Jan Rossey, Charles Lommens, Mr. Johann Delbaere, Mrs. Francine Fonteyne-Missuwe, Mr. Willy and Mrs. Lena Verplancke-Gellynck
Lincoln Bishop John Saxbee, Rev Carolyn Kennedy, Rev John Patrick, Rev Catherine Windslow
Nottingham Fr John Guest VG, Fr Kevin Clark, Canon Anthony Dolan, Fr Paul Chipchase, Deacon Harry Tompkinson

The review first looked at what had happened in the last five years and how far targets had been met. The members then looked at targets for the next five years.

1. Target setting for the next five years
Conclusions and recommendations were presented in 4 fields: Events; Process; the Involvement of Others; Communication and Publicity.

  1. Events
    Regular events — Parish Twinnings, Procession of the Holy Blood, The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Feast of Saint Hugh
    Particular events in the immediate future — installation of a new Dean at Lincoln, the 25th anniversary of the 3-way link between Lincoln, Brugge, Nottingham; the Church in the City at Brussels.
    Early preparation and publicity was required, points of communication established, translations verified.
  2. Process
    Theological discussion should be introduced and developed in formation for ministry, in areas of joint learning, in teaching exchanges.
    Use of sabbaticals
    The three-legged stool was presented as a model, whereby two Dioceses had things in common which were not shared by the third. The dynamics of the model identified the strengths, weaknesses and subtleties of the Link, and provided opportunities for dialogue and discussion.
    Prayer — the Prayer Diary of Lincoln, the Unity Prayer, identification of Saints and holy persons, the creation of a bookmark.
  3. Involvement of Others
    Universities, further and higher education
    Working with young people
    Diocesan organisations Finding areas of common interest
    Move from priest-led activity to greater lay involvement
  4. Communications and Publicity
    Establishment of a Lincoln-Brugge-Nottingham newsletter
    Establishment of a web site
    Regular input into Diocesan newspapers, etc.
    Cathedral notice boards
    Using our own expertise in e.g. buildings, liturgy
    Lincoln Diocesan Synod, Brugge Theological Academy, Nottingham Clergy Conference
    Regular meetings of Chairmen
    Use of other forms of media
    Establishment of a Secretariat
    Publish a leaflet about the Link and update it regularly; prepare a history of the Link.

The four fields were agreed, but there was too much to do within each field, and there was need to prioritize. It was thought desirable that each Diocese identify one person with overall responsibility for each field.

2. How and when are the things agreed upon going to be done?

  1. Events
    Overall Responsibilities for this field.

    Lincoln: John Patrick
    Brugge: Charles Lommens
    Nottingham: Anthony Dolan
    Anniversary of the Link and Bishops' Consultations
    2008 would represent the 25th year of Bishops' Consultations, when it would be hosted by Nottingham. A suitable theme for the Consultations might be Relationships between Priesthood and Ministry, but that was something for the Bishops, and Bishop Malcolm in particular, to determine. Bishop Malcolm would be asked (a) to determine as soon as possible the date and theme of the Bishops' Consultations in 2008; (b) to see if the Bishops agreed that the Link Anniversary be celebrated at the same time; (c) to see if the Bishops agreed that opportunities for events on the theme happen in their Dioceses in the meantime.
    Installation of a new Dean at Lincoln
    Possibly on St. Hugh's Day on 17 November
    Church in the City, Brussels, 30 October-5 November 2006
    Opening of permanent Bible Exhibition, Brugge, 17 November
    3 regular twinnings existed, 1 was in preparation. The target of 5 twinnings set in 2000 had not been achieved, but that should not deter from setting future targets. Twinnings should be widened to incorporate not just parishes, but choirs, schools, Colleges of further and higher education, Diocesan organisations and committees.
    Opportunities should be found to promote friendships on a personal basis for future development. There should be greater lay involvement in twinnings.
    A target of 5 more twinnings be set in the next five years, inclusive of parishes and others
  2. Process
    Contact persons be established for information and establishment of links for sabbaticals: Mark Hucknall for Lincoln, Henk Laridon for Brugge, Paul Chipchase for Nottingham.
    Formation and Training: Explorations be made of inputs into pre- and post-ministerial formation and training.
    Prayer and Bookmark: draft texts be distributed for inclusion in Cathedrals, Lincoln Prayer Diary, Brugge Ordo Ministrando, Nottingham Ad Clerum, A bookmark be produced by the English Link Committee, available before the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
    Bulletin: Lincoln produce a Bulletin to be issued through personal e-mail or through the proposed web site.
    Three-legged Stool: A document be produced on the concept of the 3-legged stool and circulate it in draft form to the Link Committees.
  3. Involvement of Others
    Each Link Committee develop this as much as possible
  4. Communications and Publicity.
    Website: A website be created as soon as possible.
    E-mail links between schools be established.
    Publicity Officers: Publicity Officers be kept informed of Link developments and asked to publicise them (Lincoln Will Harrison, Brugge Peter Rossel, Nottingham Margaret Smidowicz)
    Noticeboards: The three cathedrals to have up-to-date information about the Link on display.
    Involvement of the Link in Diocesan programmes: Those with responsibility for diocesan programmes be asked to include Link awareness and involvement.
    Regular meetings of Chairmen: The three Chairmen of Link Committees to meet regularly to review progress and develop work, the first meeting to be held in November 2006.

English Link Committee Members, March 2006

Rev Canon Anthony P. Dolan Grantham
Rev John A. Patrick Sleaford

Rev Deacon Harry Tompkinson, Scunthorpe

Rev Paul Chipchase, Lincoln
Rev Kevin Clark, Melton Mowbray
Rt Rev Bishop Tim Ellis, Grantham
Rev John Guest, Ashbourne
Rev Carolyn Kennedy, Uffington
Rev John Tomlinson, Lincoln
Rev Kathryn Windslow, Wellingore

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