year the Society holds an Annual General Meeting. The meetings
themselves are very short. The usual reports are given and officers
and committee members are elected. The rest of the time is given
over to consideration of a special topic or theme.
are always very different as you can see from this page. The most
recent was held on
12th March 2016 in the
Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Rue Capitaine Crespel 29, Brussels,
for the day was
ECUMENICAL CHALLENGES IN EUROPE'
were Fr Heikki Huttunen, General Secretary of the Conference of
European Churches, and the Rt Rev Robert Innes, Bishop of Gibraltar
Huttunen began by reviewing the ecumenical movement as it stands
at present. He feels that it is suffering from the same kind of
fatigue experienced by other great movements of the twentieth
century, such as the United Nations. But he refuses to be discouraged
because it is a movement about following Christ, and a movement
about Christian unity. Indeed, there are many exciting ways in
which local ecumenical relationships are enabling the wider Church.
He quoted as an example the Guidelines on Contacts with Other
Faiths produced by the Porvoo Communion which, whilst not strictly
an ecumenical organisation, had produced something that can be
used by all Churches. He described some of the changes that CEC
is undergoing, and then moved on to the issue of refugees and
migrants and the wars taking place within Europe and on its borders.
led to some lively discussion which will be fully reported in
the May edition of The Window.
you can read a transcript of Fr Huttunen's presentation here.
Robert began his presentation by reviewing the situation in Europe
since the founding of the European Union after the Second World
War and its expansion following the ending of the Cold War. He
noted how in 1990 the Churches had been challenged to be the 'heart
and soul of Europe' but how just a few years later the Community
was well on the way to becoming a secular organisation. He outlined
three challenges facing Europe and the Churches - Migration, Debt,
and the Rise of Popularist Parties and Nationalism - before concluding
with some reflections on his Diocese in Europe and the forthcoming
Referendum in the United Kingdom to decide whether or not Britain
is to remain in the European Union.
followed a very passionate discussion focused very much on the
issue of migrancy. It was suggested that too much of the debate
has centred on fear and fantasy and that the Churches have a duty
to inform the debate with good theology. Again, you will find
details of the discussion in The Window, which is available free
to all members. So if you would like a copy join the Society by
clicking the 'How to Join' button in the Navigation Column on
the left of this page.
of Bishop Robert's presentation is to be found here.
Rev Dr John Arnold, our Anglican President, chaired the meeting.
all delighted when Bishop Michael Ipgrave, who had very recently
been appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Lichfield in the Church
of England announced that he was willing to continue as Anglican
Moderator if the meeting so wished. He and Prof Jaakko Rusama
were re-elected as Co-Moderators, Canon Dick Lewis as Secretary
and Pastor Erich Rust as Treasurer. The Executive Committee members
were elected last year for a three-year term.
were received from the Moderators, the Treasurer, the National
Co-ordinators and the Membership Secretary. Members were reassured
that the Society is in good heart. The Moderators outlined the
programme for the coming year with special reference to the conferences
in Visby and Erfurt.
account of the meeting will be in May edition of The Window.
Annual meeting was on
7th March 2015
at the Church
of St George the Martyr, Borough High Street, London SE1 1JA from
10am to 3.30pm. The theme for the day was
coffee and cakes we gathered around the font, ready to set off
on a MINI-PILGRIMAGE. It only lasted one hour, but it
took us to some very historical and evocative places which provided
the basis for reflection and prayer. Most people found it a very
moving experience, and you can read an account of it here.
The pilgrimage was followed by the Annual Meeting itself which
was chaired by our Lutheran President, Bishop Jürgen Johannesdotter
Our Co-Moderators, Bishop Michael Ipgrave and Dr Jaakko Rusama,
reported that the Society had enjoyed a busy year. A highlight
had been the conference at the Lajos Ordass Retreat and Conference
Centre, Révfülöp, Lake Balaton, Hungary attended
by 60 participants from 20 countries. You can read about it here.
The 2016 conference will be in Visby, Sweden, and details will
be published very soon.
to the future, Bishop Michael said that the committee had become
concerned about a lack of ecumenical education within ministerial
formation in the UK and possibly in Europe too. This is something
the Society will pursue, but we have begun working with a Finnish
University to prepare a distance learning course on Luther and
Lutheranism which we hope will be a valuable resource in the run
up to 2017.
The ALS will once again
have a stall at the Kirchentag, 3rd to 7th June in Stuttgart.
Thanks were expressed to Gudrun Kaper and other members in Germany
for taking this forward.
It is very encouraging
that new people are joining our Society all the time, but we need
to concentrate on increasing the membership. Jaakko Rusama commented
that we are a vibrant, international, ecumenical organisation,
well networked in the ecumenical world, and flexible and able
to work imaginatively because we are not a formal body of the
Churches. There is a lot of talk about an ‘Ecumenical Winter’,
Bishop Michael said, but we must pray that we will be part of
an ‘Ecumenical Spring’.
Our Treasurer, Pastor Erich Rust, reported that in 2014 the general
account had shown a profit of £1,604. This was largely due
to the generous financial support received from the Finnish Church.
The Balaton Conference had also ended with a balance in hand of
£1,603. This was because donations to the bursary fund had
exceeded demand, so this sum will be carried forward to provide
bursaries for the next conference.
Jaakko Rusama reminded
the meeting that some countries have their own bank accounts (as
reported each year in the National Co-ordinators’ reports.)
He urged members in other countries to follow Finland’s
example and seek financial backing for our Society from their
Helen Harding, our Membership Secretary, reported that it is good
when new members register from countries previously unrepresented.
This year that includes the Philippines, Poland and Portugal.
So we now have 314 members (counting couples and groups as one
member) in 33 different countries.
Brief reports were received from our National Coordinators in
Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USA. Thanks were expressed
to Laura Lincoln, who has resigned as USA Coordinator after long
and faithful service and whose place has been taken by Tom VanPoole.
We also gave thanks for the life of Jacob Knudsen, Norway’s
Coordinator, who died in January. Jaakko Rusama reported that
he will attempt to someone to take on the role in Norway, and
someone to act as our Coordinator in Denmark.
Our Officers, Co-Moderators Bishop Michael Ipgrave (right) and
Dr Jaakko Rusama (left), Secretary Dick Lewis (top right) and
Treasurer Erich Rust (top left), were thanked for the very hard
work they do on behalf of our Society, and re-elected to serve
in the coming year.
Bishop Jürgen thanked the retiring committee members for
all that they had contributed over the past three years. The Very
Rev Tom Bruch (Lutheran), the Ven Christine Allsopp (Anglican),
the Rev Jo Jan Vandenheede (Lutheran), Mrs Sally Barnes and Mrs
Helen Harding (Anglican), and the Rev Eliza Zikmane (Lutheran)
- left to right betwen the Co-Moderators - were elected to serve
for the coming three years.
The meeting was closed
with prayer led by Bishop Jürgen, in which he gave thanks
for the lives and Christian service of Jacob Knudsen, Mrs Valerie
Phillips, one of the Society’s former secretaries, and Bishop
Friedrich Weber, former Co-Chair of the Meissen Commission.
PRESENTATION ON PILGRIMAGE
After an excellent lunch,
the Rt Rev Martin Lind, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Great
Britain gave a presentation on the topic of Pilgrimage. The full
text can be found here.
This was followed by
a very lively discussion which you will find summarised in the
April 2015 edition of our newsletter, ‘The Window’.
tea the meeting dispersed. Everyone agreed that it had been a
very valuable and stimulating day.
previous Annual Meeting was on
8th March 2014
at the Gustaf
Adolf Kyrka,138 Park Lane, Liverpool, LI 8HG, UK.
Living Church in Post-Modern Society
we were meeting in Liverpool some members were arriving the day
before. So a programme had been arranged starting on the Friday
evening and extending throughout Saturday.
page you can find out about
evening, when we were told about Liverpool's Lutheran community
morning, when we heard of some of Liverpool's ecumenical
afternoon, when we faced some of the challenges of being
Church in a post-modern and post-Christian society
in at the Gustaf Adolf Church and were treated to enormous quantities
of cream cakes to accompany our teas and coffees! Then, at 7pm,
Professor Robert Lee, a member of the congregation, gave a brief
Scandinavian Seamen's Church
told us that it was built in 1883-4
as a kind of outpost of the Church of Sweden to provide a range
of care, spiritual and practical, for the many Scandinavian seafarers
and emigrants who found themselves in Liverpool. As well as a
place of worship, a reading room and a Seamen’s Home were
there may be fewer Scandinavian sailors visiting the city, the
church remains a vibrant community trying to meet the needs of
Scandinavian and Nordic people living in the city and the countryside
round about. In more recent times the congregation has started
to reach out to the local community. “Many people pass the
church building and remark, ‘It’s not like a traditional
English Church!’” said Prof Lee. “So it’s
very positive to engage with them, and that gives a good indication
of the kind of work we can continue to do into the future.”
read his presentation here.
Mr Roger Metcalfe explained some recent developments in the congregation’s
life and organisation and told us about
International Nordic Community (LiNC)
beginnings, he told us, the church had been financed and run by
the Swedish Church Abroad (Svenska Kyrka Utomslands - SKUT). They
provided the priests. In 2004 a Charity, LiNC, was set up with
the aims of advancing the Christian religion among Scandinavian
people living in the North-West of England and North Wales and
of advancing education by the teaching of Scandinavian languages
and culture. Whilst SKUT would continue to provide the clergy,
LiNC would assist in caring for the church building and associated
in 2008 SKUT announced that the church was to be closed. LiNC
formed a joint committee with the Church Council and campaigned
to keep the church open and active. After protracted negotiations
LiNC took over the buildings in 2010. Since then a programme or
refurbishment and repair have been begun. Roger concluded: “We
consider that LiNC has been a major success in keeping the Gustaf
Adolf Nordic Church in full operation with religious, social and
cultural events open to both the Nordic and local communities.”
his presentation click here.
were entertained by ‘Nordic Scouse’ (click here
to listen to their unusual rendition on ‘In My Liverpool
Home’) before Mr Stan Royden told us about
the mixture of people the church now serves, mainly long-term
residents but with increasing numbers of students from the Nordic
countries attending the three Universities and the Institute of
is available here.
ended with Night Prayer.
was a very full day. We began with Morning Prayer in the church
and then, after more coffee and cakes, Canon Neville Black and
the Rev Dr David Leslie shared their personal views of
Experiences of Ecumenism
Black is a Liverpool lad. In 1964 he became a curate in Everton.
He soon discovered that his theology was not enabling him to engage
with the working class community there and he began to explore
new approaches. It took time but gradually he started forming
ecumenical partnerships, in spite of the deeply entrenched sectarianism
to be found throughout the the city's society at that time. This
was before the arrival of Bishop David Sheppard.
spoke in a direct and engaging way, and you can read what he said
by clicking here.
was followed by David Leslie who described the kinds of new possibilities
that opened up when Bishop David Sheppard (Anglican) and Archbishop
Derek Worlock (Roman Catholic) began their amazing partnership
in Liverpool. He shared his experience of working in Local Ecumenical
Partnerships, the early heady days and later disappointments.
He expressed concern at the ways in which clergy are trained,
the ways in which power is used and abused in Church structures,
and his view that ecumenical cooperation works best when the supporting
denominations give permission and trust those who understand the
is available here.
went into the church for a Eucharist arranged by our Co-Moderators.
Jaakko Rusama (left) presided and Michael Ipgrave (foreground)
preached. He spoke about Bishop Edward King of Lincoln, who is
remembered in the Church of England every year on that day.
read the sermon here.
Annual General Meeting
Co-President, Jürgen Johannesdotter, was Chairman, and he
opened the meeting with prayer. The minutes of the 2013 AGM were
approved, the only matter arising being the question of our Society’s
representation in Denmark, which the Co-Moderators agreed to pursue.
report, Jaakko Rusama and Michael Ipgrave expressed gratitude
to the Executive Committee members for their hard work, and for
their willingness to consider the future direction of our Society.
They reviewed some recent developments in the ecumenical scene
and reaffirmed their belief that there is a role for a bi-lateral
approach such as ours. They hope that the membership as a whole
will respond to a series of questions that will appear in the
full account of their report in The Window, due out in April.
delight at the link being forged with Liverpool Hope University,
looked forward to the Society’s Conference in Hungary, hoped
that people would continue to register for it, and announced that
a conference is planned to take place in Erfurt in September 2016
in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation to
be celebrated in 2017.
reported that the Society’s accounts had been examined and
found correct. The meeting approved them. Erich expressed concern
that we had spent almost £2000 more than we had received
in 2013. Much of this was due to the preparations for the Hungarian
Secretary and National Coordinators presented written reports
which will be summarised in The Window.
approved two small amendments to the Society’s Constitution.
These can be seen on the website.
Jaakko Rusama and Michael Ipgrave, Secretary, Dick Lewis, and
Treasurer, Erich Rust, were all re-elected to serve for the coming
thanked everyone for their contributions to the work of our Society,
and our Anglican Co-President, John Arnold, closed the meeting
was followed by a wonderful lunch provided by the Gustaf Adolf
Prof Peter McGrail of Liverpool Hope University, a Roman Catholic
liturgist, spoke about the challenges and opportunities of
Liturgy in a Post-Modern Society.
live at a time when people want to discover their self-identity
through the choices they make. It’s a ‘Pick and Mix’
society, and that applies within church communities and not just
across denominations. Liturgy is essentially about expressing
the Christian’s ‘grand narrative’, the Christ
event as expressed in the Gospels which becomes formative for
the whole of life. But much of post-modern society has lost faith
in ‘grand narratives’ and inherited tradition. So
the very notion of liturgy as something out of which everything
else grows, and which gives meaning to everything else, is under
challenge. If post-modernism is about consumer choice how might
the Churches respond?
two case studies: ‘Summorum Pontificum, 2007’ and
‘Alternative, Emerging and Liquid Worship’. In the
first, Pope Benedict XVI declared that priests could use any of
the liturgical rites that existed before the Second Vatican Council,
1962-65. This introduces an element of choice. “What kind
of Roman Catholic do I want to be? I can choose.” Peter
suggested that this is all very post-modern. Even though the people
choosing pre-Vatican II rites are probably making a negative stance
against post-modernity they are, paradoxically, acting in a very
In the second
he encouraged us to examine a Fresh Expression of Church as observed
by one of his research students. It was supposed to be a post-modern
experience of worship where individuals could take part by exercising
a range of choices. But in reality it was structured in such a
way that the congregation was rendered largely passive. Peter
concluded that ‘again and again, when Christians think they’re
doing the Post-Modern thing they actually slip very easily into
is the way forward? He suggested that Liturgy needs to be exercised
in such a way that post-modern tensions are acknowledged and worked
through. It needs to be open to an eschatological horizon which
affirms that, both as individuals and communities, we are in the
process of becoming. Only then can liturgy embrace the ambiguities
and disorientation experienced in the present, whilst at the same
time reconciling the present to the past. That is far from easy,
but it is the challenge facing the Churches in a post-modern age.
presentation can be seen here.
Jordan, the National Mission and Evangelism Adviser to the Church
of England, then spoke on
Together in the Mission of God in a Post-Christian Society.
big word in mission is ‘context’, she told us. And
things are changing very fast. The common-denominator for people
of all ages is food. So many church initiatives are based around
meals. Statistics show that there are plenty of opportunities
for mission. Only 10% of the population of the UK attends church
‘regularly’ (which today means once a month). Children
‘drop out’ of church at around 14 years of age. 91%
of children with two non-believing parents don’t believe.
Those with two believing parents have only a 46% likelihood of
believing themselves. So young people are half as religious as
their parents, and you can quickly see where that’s going
us. The Church is faced with a wonderful missionary opportunity.
But in the past Christians have relied on ‘attraction’
– getting people to come back to church. However, people
can’t ‘come back’ to something they’ve
never belonged to! Fresh Expressions goes out into communities
and waits to see what happens when they get there. This is real
‘missionary work’ – it’s like arriving
in a new country, in a new culture and a new context, and giving
birth to Christian community in that place. The aim is not making
church members but Christians.
that the true test of any church, ‘traditional’ or
‘Fresh Expression’ is to ask the question, ‘Are
you making disciples?’
was laced with statistics, stories and examples. You can read
tea (and more cream cakes) the meeting broke up into small discussion
groups and then gathered into a plenary session, chaired by committee
member Sally Barnes, with the panel made up of our speakers and
Laura Lincoln, the Society’s National Coordinator in the
It was a
lively session which will be reported in 'The Window'. If you
are not a member of the Society join now! That way you will receive
If you would
like to see what went on at our AGMs between last year and 2007