The Church of Denmark will sign the Porvoo Agreement in October

The Church of Denmark will sign the Porvoo Agreement on October 3rd in Copenhagen.

The Church of Denmark participated in the dialogues leading to the Porvoo Agreement but did not sign the Agreement when the Porvoo Communion was established. It has however maintained an observatory status and participated in Porvoo events and meetings since 1996. The decision to sign was announced in 2009. A date has been set and the Church of Denmark will sign the Porvoo Agreement and become a full member of the Porvoo Communion at a service in Copenhagen Cathedral on October 3rd 2010. The service starts at 10 am and is open to all. Members from other churches of the Porvoo Communion will be present.

Report from the Leadership Consultation

The Porvoo Church Leadership Consultion (CLC) 2010 was held in Sigtuna, Sweden, in March. The CLC provides guidelines for the direction of common efforts in the Porvoo Communtion.

The consultation highlighted a few areas to concentrate on:

  • To develop better processes of consultation
  • To develop a regular newsletter to improve communications
  • To develop a youth network and strengthen youth exchange
  • To explore the possibility of establishing a Porvoo Solidarity Fund in order to help churches without huge resources to participate
  • To explore the possibility of an interchange programme for theological students
  • To work towards a clear united perspective on lay ministry within the Porvoo Communion
  • To take forward the recommendations from the Interfaith Consultation inEdinburghworking towards codes of good practice
  • To keep in mind the needs of churches in their contextual struggle and show solidarity

Main Recommendations of the CLC

  • To hold a consultation on Responding to Conflict in 2011
  • The theme for next Porvoo Theological Conference will be:  Sacraments in the Mission of the Church. The reason for this is to reflect on an enduring issue in the life of the church. Sacraments and mission can be linked in a good way, since they are the core element in the life of the church. For example, one can look at baptism and confirmation and what part they play in the evangelism of the church. Pastoral, liturgical and theological dimensions will form part of the discussions. There is furthermore a vital discussion in Sweden on whether the non-baptised can receive communion. The conference would also address this issue. The ‘Porvoo Idea’ is to be together in mission and ministry and this conference would give visibility to the idea.
  • The PCG should work towards a further Consultation on Diaconal Ministry which addresses the question of how churches in the Porvoo Communion see the future of the diaconate in their own church. Furthermore the PCG should work on putting instruments in place for greater solidarity with the migrant population.
  • To hold a Consultation on Diaspora and Migration in 2012.

The final report of the Leadership Consultation

List of Participants at the Leadership Consultation

Pictures from the Consultation

Documents from Anglican and Lutheran discussions available online

The Church of Finland has published documentation of various meetings between Lutherans and Anglicans.

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Matti Repo, bishop of Tampere, Finland has contributed to the book with several articles.

The Church of Finland has published documentation of various meetings between Lutherans and Anglicans. In their series Reseptio, nr. 1/2010, many papers from theological conferences and consultations are found, on diakonia, communion, baptism and confirmation, on inter-faith issues and others. Most of them are printed in English, but some are in Finnish.

They are now available online also.

Reseptio 1/10 Lutheran Anglican relations.

Dialogue with Other Religions is Important for a Functional Society

The Rt Revd Martin Wharton

“Churches in the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as those in the British Isles, will actively work to compile guidelines and good examples for the churches’ future religious dialogue efforts.”

This was one of the conclusions of the four day gathering in Sigtuna of Porvoo Church Leaders, known as the Church Leaders Consultation, CLC.

-The dialogue with different religions is extremely important for society to function and for us to be able to live in harmony with other religions and faiths and respect our fellow citizens. So says Church of England’s Martin Wharton, who is the co-chairman of the Porvoo Contact Group.

According to him Islam, Judaism and Hinduism have many similarities with Christianity.

-We as churches must be more intrepid in this area. There is only one race and that is the human race. We are all brothers and sisters, he goes on to say.

Alison Elliot

When summing up the meeting Alison Elliot from the Church of Scotland spoke about the identities of the churches in the new society of Europe today, where cultural diversity, migration and cross-boundary meetings are a part of everyday life.

-We need to question our own identity and be brave enough to test the limitations of our own view of ourselves, she says.

The Porvoo Churches is a fellowship of Lutheran churches, primarily those in the Nordic and Baltic countries, together with the Anglican churches in the British Isles. The meeting in Sigtuna was a consultation meeting of the church leaders, which is held once every four years.

The future challenges that were identified were:

The Porvoo Churches need

– to develop a distinct process for how, and on what issues, the churches should consult one another.

– to develop frameworks for the churches who would like to become new members.

– to establish a cross-boundary network, for example for child and youth initiatives.

Gothenburg will host a meeting on dialogue with other religions

The Porvoo Churches will work actively to compile guidelines and good examples for the churches’ future religious dialogue efforts. A separate meeting dedicated to dialogue with other religions will be held in Gothenburg in 2011.

In October 2010 there will be a celebration to mark the Church of Denmark becoming a member of The Porvoo Churches. Previously the Church of Denmark has participated as an observer. Because of this new membership the ecumenical map will expand – with the Church of Greenland also becoming part of The Porvoo Churches.

More than 50 delegates gathered in Sigtuna from Anglican churches in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Spain and Portugal, as well as from Lutheran churches in Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland and Sweden. The Lutheran church of Latvia and the Church of Danmark were present as observers.

Comfort and Challenge

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Dr. Alison Elliot

Dr. Alison Elliot gave inspiring Bible studies to the Porvoo Church Leaders Consultation Sigtuna. In the first Bible study dr. Alison spoke of Comfort and Challenge.

– We like our ecumenical communities to be comfortable places, and we’re often embarrassed when they’re not, said Dr. Alison Elliot in a study on comfort and challenge for the churches where she looked at John 12. 1-8 and also asked how we as Churches express a Christian perspective on a public issue in the public square, where the discourse is one of evidence based rationality?

In the second Bible study dr. Alison asked questions on preparing for the future in the shadow of the past, looking at Jes. 53.

– But this passage presents God as endlessly innovative in his faithfulness, unconstrained by past triumphs but shaping his actions to the needs of the present. This God doesn’t cut and paste his previous solutions. He’s endlessly fresh and creative. He’s the God for today’s bewildering times.

Being faithful to tradition, open to new learning

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Revd Steinunn A. Björnsdóttir, The Very Revd Johan Dalman, The Rt Revd Martin Wharton

The Rt Revd Martin Wharton, bishop of Newcastle and co-chair of the Porvoo Contact group reflected on the example of St Cyril, a fourth century bishop of Jerusalem, in his sermon at the beginning of the Church Leadership Consultation in Sigtuna. St Cyril was faithful to the tradition he inherited, yet responsive to new questions, new opportunities and open to new learning and new insights. His contribution to making the gospel alive, understood and relevant to people around him still influence our liturgy today.

The full text of the sermon.

Pictures from the consultation

Church Leaders Consultation in Sweden in March

A Porvoo Church Leaders Consultation (CLC) wil l be hosted by the Church of Sweden on March 18-21 2010. The theme of the consultation is Growing together.

A Porvoo CLC is held every four years. It was last held in Cardiff, Wales in 2006. The aim of the Consultation is to give direction in the work of the communion for the next four years. In Cardiff seven areas of work were identified:

  • Lay involvement
  • Involvement of youth and young people
  • Issues in ordained ministry
  • Issues in human sexuality
  • Living in Communion
  • The effect of European and national legislation on the churches.
  • Interfaith Issues

The Porvoo Contact group has been guided by these emphasis in the common work and organized meetings, seminars, consultations and conferences to follow up on the issues.

The Consultation in Sigtuna will look at new contextual challenges, such as the rich/poor divide, secularisation, responding to conflicts and climate change. Ministries in the Church will also be discussed as well as interfaith issues.

Dr Alison Elliot, Church of Scotland and moderator of the Conference of European Churches General Assembly will give Bible studies every day.

On Sunday the delegates will participate in a worship in Uppsala Cathedral.

Diaspora, Communion and Climate Change

Climate change, diaspora congregations and the understanding of communion amidst the current economic crisis were among the topics discussed as the primates and presiding bishops in the Porvoo Communion met in Porvoo, Finland on Oct. 12 – 13 2009.

The primates and presiding bishops of the Porvoo Communion meet every other year to discuss matters of common interest. This year the meeting was held in the historic city of Porvoo, which gives its name to this communion of Anglican and Lutheran churches in several European Countries.
The Norwegian presiding bishop, the Rt. Revd Olav Skjevesland gave a presentation on climate change and its impact on the world’s economy, especially its detrimental effects in many of the developing countries. He also shared the resolution of the Church of Norway to enter into a process of ecological reform on all levels of church life.

The bishops welcomed a presentation from a Lutheran and an Anglican from Finland on how communion can work in practical ways. Rev. Dr. Tomi Karttunen gave an overview of how the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has worked for many years with immigrant churches and how the Anglican Diocese in Europe has contributed to the enrichment of the life and worship of the Lutheran Church. Rev. Rupert Moreton, local Anglican chaplain of the Diocese in Europe, gave a moving description of worship in an Anglican Sudanese congregation in northern Finland and challenged the bishops to look at diaspora congregations in the light of diverse patterns of migration. The bishops called for a consultation on diaspora communities in the Porvoo context.

Common challenges in the Porvoo churches at present include the impact of the current economic crises, issues in human sexuality and the question of the responsibilities and privileges of being in communion. These challenges are felt within each church family. The archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Barry Morgan gave an insight into the complexities of finding consensus within the Anglican Communion. The archbishop of Sweden, the Most Revd Anders Wejryd spoke about the Lutheran World Federation and how it is working through potentially divisive issues.

The bishops recommended that further work needed to be done on how the Porvoo churches, as churches in communion, should consult with one another about decisions that would have communion wide consequences.

The Porvoo Communion is a communion of churches, mostly in Northern Europe, that have signed a declaration to “share a common life in mission and service”. The churches that signed the agreement are The Evangelical-Lutheran Churches of Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland and the Anglican churches of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. Two churches from Southern Europe also belong to the Porvoo Communion. They are the Lusitanian Church in Portugal and the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain. The Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Denmark and Latvia have observer status.

Consultation on Diaconal Ministry

The Porvoo churches commit themselves to work towards a common understanding of Diaconia. The second consultation was held in 2009.

The second Porvoo consultation on diaconal issues was held in Oslo, Norway in April 2009.

The aim of the consultation was to continue the work of deepening their churches’ understanding of and collaboration in the diaconate. The Porvoo Declaration, the foundation document of the communion between the Porvoo Churches, commits its signatory churches “to work towards a common understanding of diaconal ministry.”

There is a difference in the understanding of the diaconate not only between different confessional families but also within the Lutheran church family.

The consultation makes the following recommendations to the Porvoo churches:

All churches

  • To continue to exchange information and developments in thinking on diakonia and the diaconate
  • To collaborate in further study on the forms of admission to, and the canonical context of, the diaconate
  • To collaborate in the education and formation of those who will exercise diakonia as the focus of their public ministry

Lutheran churches

  • To define more clearly those areas of ministry that are understood as belonging to the diaconate
  • To clarify whether, and in what sense, deacons are understood as being ordained in each respective church
  • To explore possibilities inherent in the role of the deacon in liturgy

Anglican churches

  • To develop ways in which the element of diakonia in the mission of the church may more explicitly be understood and named as such
  • To develop an understanding of the diaconate that is not automatically associated with junior ministerial status
  • To recognise and affirm the diaconal aspect of the vocation of presbyters, and describe it explicitly
  • To consider how the vocation of those who are called to distinctive diaconate may be discerned, and how they may be encouraged and supported.