Photo Credit: The Porvoo Communion
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Climate change, Brexit and the use of digital media were just some of the subjects under discussion as leaders from the Porvoo Communion churches gathered in Portugal this month.
Representatives of the Churches of the Communion of Porvoo met in Porto, Portugal, from 10-12 October, for a consultation on 'The Voice of the Church in the Public Square'.
One way of being present in the public square was described by the Church of England's head of digital communications, Adrian Harris, who spoke about the church's digital presence. He highlighted the importance of a global web and media engagement strategy in a culture where people spend more and more time online and suggested this would put people in touch with church life at a local level.
A presentation from the Church of Finland on climate change, and its goal to achieve a carbon neutral church by 2030, showed how the Church was considering the environmental consequences of its action. Delegates heard how the Church of Finland’s Environmental Diploma provides an opportunity for parishes to plan their activities in an environmentally friendly manner.
The Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Glendalough, Dr Michael Jackson, led discussions on secularism and said it had entered a new stage and that a new dialogue was needed about the developments in both religion and secularism.
The wide-ranging conference also included contributions from the Lutheran Church and the churches of Sweden and Norway which drew on practical examples of how the churches were addressing difficult political issues, whether seeking consensus or recognising diversity.
A special panel discussion dealt with European relations focused on Brexit. The panel included the Revd Helene Steed from the Church of Ireland, Dr Ainsley Griffiths from the Church in Wales, Miriam Weibye from the Scottish Episcopal Church and Dr Rachel Jepson from the Church of England. The panel shared the very different views surrounding Brexit in the UK where they said church communities are divided and the issue is complex. The panel agreed that relationships between churches could transcend divisions and boundaries.
Bishop of the Evangelical Apostolic Catholic Lusitanian Church, Jorge Pina Cabral, welcomed the delegates including Bishop Sifredo Teixeira of the Portuguese Methodist Evangelical Church, and Archbishop Armando Esteves Domingues, Auxiliary Bishop of the Porto Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. The consultation ended with a visit to the Lusitanian Parish of the Good Shepherd in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Next year’s consultation will be organised by the Church of Sweden.