The LCiGB together with other representatives of the Churches of the Porvoo Communion participated in an on-line theological conference and in the Porvoo Contact Group on-line meeting on October 7-8.
The Porvoo Communion is a communion of Churches that have signed an agreement to “share a common life in mission and service”. These churches are either Anglican or Lutheran, the LCiGB joined the communion in September 2014 together with the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad, being the youngest members.
The theological conference, with the title ‘A Vision for Communion’, looked back to the theological vision behind the signing of the Porvoo Declaration in 1996, reviewed how that vision for had been lived out subsequently in the Porvoo Communion of Churches, and considered current challenges and resources for addressing them.
Bishop Tor B Jørgensen described in the Porvoo Contact Group meeting the situation in the LCiGB’s congregations in a time of pandemic, “It is different, strange, difficult not to be able to come together to regular services. On the other hand there are also reports confirming that the communication has improved. More people can attend on-line services and other kinds of meetings, in addition to more direct and private contact through phone or chat on an individual level.”
In his report, Bishop Tor B also raised the question about virtual communion, “One item of special concern has been how to celebrate communion in this time of crisis, not being able to congregate. Since there is a strong tradition for local liturgical freedom and with my respect for the local minister’s feeling of pastoral responsibility, I have accepted that some congregations have arranged “virtual” eucharist on certain conditions. We will soon have a Ministerium meeting where we will evaluate the experiences.”
In the final session, the Co-Chairs of the Porvoo Contact Group, Archbishop Michael Jackson and Bishop Matti Repo, led the participants in some reflection on what kind of proposals for the future of the Porvoo Communion might emerge from the theological thinking in which they had participated together. Themes that emerged from the discussion included:
- The continuing value of the rich ecclesiological vision underpinning the Porvoo Common Statement, and the need to keep filling in the ‘portrait’ of visible unity that it sketched out in such a way that the likeness of Christ is evident
- The possibility of developing further the structures or ‘instruments of communion’ that embody and enable the living out of the Commitments in the Porvoo Declaration
- The value of the image and of concrete practices of shared pilgrimage
- The place of diversity, difference and disagreement within the communion of churches
- The need to find ways to engage a younger generation with the lived reality of the Porvoo Communion of Churches
- The possibilities offered by on-line communication for addressing many of these points and extending and deepening relations between our churches.
The members of the Porvoo Communion are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, the Church of England, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Church of Iceland, the Church of Ireland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania, the Church of Norway, the Lusitanian Church of Portugal, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, the Church of Sweden, the Church in Wales, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia Abroad, the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, and as an observer the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia.