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.

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