(LWI) The Anglican and Lutheran Churches of northern Europe will address the challenges facing Europe together. Church leaders of both confessions met in Turku, Finland, March 12-17, the first meeting of the Porvoo Communion since the solemn ratification of the Porvoo Declaration in the autumn of 1996. Among challenges identified by the leaders was the erosion of traditional values accompanied by "an inarticulated search for spirituality".
Participants in the Turku consultation represented some 50 million Anglican and Lutheran Christians in Great Britain, Ireland and the Nordic and Baltic countries. The Porvoo Communion today is composed of ten churches: on the Lutheran side, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Evangelical Lutheran Church - The National Church of Iceland, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania, Church of Norway and Church of Sweden; on the Anglican side, the Church of England, Church of Ireland, Episcopal Church in Scotland and the Church in Wales.
The participants from the Churches and ecumenical observers were welcomed by Archbishop of Turku and Finland, John Vikstrom. A highlight symbolising the growing together within this new communion of Churches was the celebration of the Eucharist with the people of the city of Turku in their cathedral, 15 March. The preacher was Archbishop of York, David Hope.
The primates of the Churches will meet next year. A theological consultation is planned for in two years and a further consultation with Church leaders in four years. Meanwhile, the work will be continued by a contact group chaired by Bishop of Porvoo, Erik Vikstrom, and Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, John Neill, Ireland.
The Porvoo Declaration
The signatory Churches, according to the Porvoo Declaration, regard baptised members of each other's churches as members of their own. They are committed to "welcome diaspora congregations into the life of the indigenous churches, to their mutual enrichment" and to "welcome persons episcopally ordained in any of our churches to the office of bishop, priest or deacon to serve, by invitation and in accordance with any regulations which may from time to time be in force, in that ministry in the receiving church without re-ordination".
The Porvoo Declaration is part of the Porvoo Common Statement which includes much important preliminary work, for example, a series of theological conversations which took place between Anglicans and Lutherans in the Nordic and Baltic regions until 1951, followed by several bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues. The Porvoo statement refers specifically to reflections contained in the Niagara Report, issued as a result of the 1987 consultation on episcope sponsored by the Anglican-Lutheran International Continuation Committee. The final text of the Porvoo Common Statement was adopted at a consultation held in Jarvenpaa, Finland, in October 1992. The document takes its name from the Finnish town of Porvoo in the cathedral of which participants in the consultation jointly celebrated Holy Communion.
The original text of the Porvoo Common Statement which includes the Porvoo Declaration was issued as Occasional Paper No. 3 by the Council of Christian Unity of the General Synod of the Church of England, Church House, Great Smith St., London SW1P 3NZ.