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 the call for Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence (MRI). The historic connections through mission agencies and national mission boards expanded to dioceses and later parishes, Mothers’ Union and Cathedrals. The 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.
The Dioceses of the Anglican Communion have enjoyed fellowship and partnership in mission through the many relationships of the Companion Diocesan Links for over thirty years. Many stories can be told of mutual sharing in partnership, of support and strengthening of mission between dioceses, engaging Christians in exchange programmes, prayer and the sharing of insights and expertise.
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 Diocesan 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.
The Lambeth Conference in 1998 encouraged the forming of new links and declared that:
You will find some helpful information of Companion Diocesan Links on this web site. Guidelines to Companion Links, stories of activities of links around the Communion, A list of existing links between the dioceses of the Communion and so guidance of how to start a new link, although this is certainly not straight forward.
God has called us into a relationship, not only with himself but also with one another that our lives may be enriched as we learn and share in a partnership to bring about his mission in the world.