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Porvoo participants see God in each other

03 October 2014

by Andrew Wingate


Common ground: delegates to the three-day course in Sweden 

Common ground: delegates to the three-day course in Sweden 

A RABBI was asked: "When can we know it is dawn? Is it when we can tell a fox from a dog? Or a tree from a post?"

"No," the Rabbi said. "It is when I can look at my neighbour's face, and see God in his or her eyes."

This story was told at the start of a three-day course in Norrköping, Sweden, the fruit of 11 years of Porvoo engagement on interfaith issues. In 2003, in Oslo, 12 issues had been highlighted as vital for interfaith work in Europe, and these were reaffirmed in Gothenburg in 2011.

They comprise: building long-term trust; speaking truthfully about the other; sharing our faith; coming together before God; responding to changing societies; educating and nurturing in the faith; supporting family life; working for the common good; involving women and men; engaging with the media and the internet; safeguarding the freedom to believe; and changing religious commitment (conversion).

Altogether, there were 35 participants from two Swedish dioceses, Strängnäs and Linköping, and from their link dioceses in the Church of England.

One participant, the Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, said: "Learning from each other was not just a nice title, but very much the spirit of our time together. It was a very rich Porvoo encounter."

The course included a visit to refugees from Syria and Iraq, a novel experience for the UK participants. Few refugees have been admitted to Britain; many thousands have to Sweden.


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