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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.