THE Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark is now a full member of the Porvoo Communion of Churches. In Copenhagen last weekend, archbishops, bishops, and ecumenical officers from the Nordic and Baltic countries, the UK, and Ireland gathered to celebrate with the Danish Church.
The weekend began with festal evensong at St Alban’s Anglican Church on Saturday, and was followed by a Sunday eucharist at the Cathedral of Our Lady. The concelebrants were Canon Ulla Monberg of the diocese in Europe, the Bishop of Copenhagen, the Rt Revd Peter Skov-Jakobsen, and the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, who represented the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In his sermon, Bishop Skov-Jakobsen, who served for nine years at the Danish Seamen’s Church in Hull, called for “enduring patience and continuing inquisitiveness in our ongoing ecumenical journey. Today we are no longer strange, distant cousins, but have become full brothers and sisters in Christ . . . Thank you for your patience.”
Ill health prevented Dr Kenneth Stevenson, who has recently retired as Bishop of Portsmouth, from being present, and his homily was read at evensong by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton.
Dr Stevenson linked the weekend’s events to the meeting of the Anglo-Scandinavian Theological Conference which was held in Chichester in October 1947, hosted by Bishop George Bell, at which Dr Stevenson’s father was present, and which included three Danes. These talks prepared the ground for the agreement on scripture, the Creeds, baptism, and the eucharist which was reached in Oslo four years later.
“Porvoo is about sharing in a common mission in the Christian heartlands of northern Europe, where each church represented here this weekend has a long Christian tradition but now lives in a much-changed world, with diverse communities, new ethnic groups, other faiths, and the sheer effects of secularism. . . But in our common North European history, there may well be lessons to learn from each other, positive and negative, about how to be faithful disciples in a much changed world.”
The Bishop of Iceland, the Rt Revd Karl Sigurbjörnsson, paid special tribute to the former Dean of Durham, the Very Revd Dr John Arnold, and to Colin Podmore of the Church of England for their work over many years on the Porvoo process.
The Anglican Churches of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and the Lutheran Churches of the Nordic and Baltic countries (except the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia) have now signed this ecumenical statement that brings those Churches into full communion. The Church of Denmark comprises ten dioceses in Denmark and one in Greenland.
The Ven. Jonathan LLoyd is Archdeacon of Germany & Northern Europe.