Church Links

As the Churches of the Communion grew into autonomy so new structures of partnership and mission came into being.  The system of Companion Link relationships, especially on a diocesan level, grew out of a call for mutual Responsibility and interdependence.

The Bishop of Lynn visits Papua New Guinea
The Bishop of Lynn visits Papua New Guinea
Photo Credit: Church of England

Bonds of Affection

Across the Anglican Communion is a vital and vibrant network of links: between parishes, churches, dioceses and provinces. These began initially through mission agencies and national mission boards expanded to dioceses and later parishes, Mothers’ Union and cathedrals.

The links—known alternatively as Church Links and Companion Links—are formed and are strongly based on relationships.  As bishops, clergy and lay people meet and find a commonality in mission and purpose, this often develops into a mutual sharing together of resources.

Those who have taken part in link relationships have enjoyed fellowship and partnership in mission for over thirty years.  At their best they expand awareness of the experiences of Christians in different parts of the Communion and encourage mutual support, challenge and learning. 

The face to face meeting they encourage is of great value in providing cohesion and flesh to the bones of the Communion's structures.  The number and variety of Companion Links has expanded considerably since the 1960s.

Patterns of linking vary among provinces.   Originally links were very strong between North and South Provinces and this has grown into South to South and North to North links.  Sometime three or more dioceses link together and enjoy a great variety of cultures and understanding of each other.

Some experiences of companion relationships include:

  • Visits by bishops clergy and laity
  • Youth, women and clergy exchanges
  • Parish to parish links
  • Three way diocesan links
  • Mission team exchanges
  • Evangelism programmes
  • A common prayer or intercessory calendar
  • Training in ministry
  • Renewal programmes
  • Faithful communication
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Gifts of arts and crafts
  • Cultural events
  • Work camps
  • Medical teams
  • Attendance in diocesan conventions
  • Assistance in time of need
  • Development projects


Official encouragement

The Lambeth Conference in 1998 encouraged the forming of new links and declared that:

  • ‘The time has come for significant new initiatives in encouraging all dioceses to develop companion relationships across provincial boundaries, as part of the process of developing the cross-cultural nature of the Communion.  The bishops resolved that by the next Lambeth Conference every diocese should have made ‘a serious effort to identify one or more dioceses as a companion, in formal and informal ways.’

This Conference;

  • notes that many dioceses in the Anglican Communion have not as yet been able to establish companion relationships;
  • believes that the time has come for significant new initiatives in encouraging all dioceses to develop companion relationships across provincial boundaries, as part of the process of developing the cross-cultural nature of the communion;
  • believes that, in addition to the structures administered through Partners in World Mission and the Anglican Communion Office, dioceses should be encouraged to take initiatives in sharing information, contact and exchange.
  • accordingly resolves: that each diocese of the Communion should, by the time of the next Lambeth Conference, have made a serious effort to identify one or more dioceses as a companion, in formal and informal ways.’