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Annual General Meeting

Every 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.

Next year's Annual Meeting will be on

Saturday 17th March 2018 venue yet to be decided

The meetings are always very different as you can see from this page. The most recent was held on

Saturday 25th February 2017

in St Boniface's German Roman Catholic Church in London. This is a fascinating modern building and in welcoming us Fr Christian Dieckmann told us a little of its history. It is used for worship and also houses a hostel accommodating visitors from all over the world.

We began with the Business Meeting chaired by our Anglican President, Dr John Arnold. After prayers led by Pastor Erich Rust the minutes of last year's meeting were agreed and then the Co-Moderators gave their report. A highlight of the past year had been the Conference in Sweden, they said, and thanks were expressed to the Bishop of Visby and his Diocesan staff, and especially to Richard Wottle, for their generous support. The Executive Committee has produced new publicity material in a variety of languages and members were urged to promote the Society whenever they have the opportunity.

The Treasurer, Erich Rust, presented the accounts and announced that he wishes to step down. Thanks were expressed by Sally Barnes who presented him with a token of our appreciation for all that he has done. Reports were also received from the National Coordinators (and delight expressed that Richard Wottle has agreed to be our man in Sweden) and the Membership Secretary, and Jochen Dallas asked for volunteers to help with the Society's stall at the forthcoming Kirchentag in Berlin.

The Elections followed, with our Co-Moderators and Secretary being re-elected, but no nomination was forthcoming for the post of Treasurer. Jo Jan Vandenheede, who has been a lively member of the Executive Committee, has had to retire. The Rev Susanne Skovhus was elected to take his place.

A fuller account of the meeting will appear in the May edition of The Window.

There were two presentations either side of lunch on the theme

Dispersing the Clouds of Unkowing: Ecumenical Agreements between Anglicans, Lutherans and Roman Catholics

The first was by our Lutheran President, Bishop Juergen Johannesdotter. His task was to comment on

The Outworking of the Meissen Agreement from a German and Lutheran Point of View

After some personal remarks about his childhood and his introduction to the world of ecumenism Bishop Juergen outlined some of the achievements of the agreement between the Church of England and the German Lutheran and Reformed Churches. It was an agreement that had paved the way for other ecumenical endeavours, he said, and is characterised by interaction between Dioceses and Synods, and between parishes and congregations so that, although full communion has not yet been achieved, both sides have been enriched by the fellowship that has been shared.

You can read Bishop Juergen's presentation here.

After lunch Dame Mary Tanner, a past President of the World Council of Churches, spoke about

The Porvoo Agreement and Other Agreements between Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed and Roman Catholics

Mary began by sketching in the story of the Ecumenical Movement from The Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1920 via Vatican II, 1962-65, which led to what she described as 'a dance of dialogues', to the present day. The Meissen and Porvoo Agreements were compared before she moved on to describe the dialogues that have taken place between Anglicans and Roman Catholics and Lutherans and Catholics. Symbolic actions should not be underestimated in their importance, she said, citing the meeting in Lund between Pope Francis and Bishop Munib Younan and the photo of the Pope embracing the Swedish Archbishop - a woman bishop! The forthcoming commemoration of the Reformation is an opportunity for strengthening relationships.

You can read Mary Tanner's presentation here.

We moved from St Boniface's Roman Catholic Church to St George's Lutheran Church for a Eucharist.

The Rev Dr Roy Long and the Rev Susanne Skovhus conducted the service and the preacher was Dr John Arnold.

You can read John Arnold's sermon here

 

Last year's Annual Meeting was on

Saturday 12th March 2016 in the

Anglican Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Rue Capitaine Crespel 29, Brussels, Belgium

The theme for the day was

'NEW ECUMENICAL CHALLENGES IN EUROPE'

Our speakers were Fr Heikki Huttunen, General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, and the Rt Rev Robert Innes, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe.

Fr 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.

His presentation led to some lively discussion which will be fully reported in the May edition of The Window.

Meanwhile you can read a transcript of Fr Huttunen's presentation here.

Bishop 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.

There 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.

A transcript of Bishop Robert's presentation is to be found here.

THE ANNUAL MEETING

The Very Rev Dr John Arnold, our Anglican President, chaired the meeting.

We were 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.

Reports 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.

A full account of the meeting will be in May edition of The Window.

 

 

In 2015 the Annual Meeting was on

Saturday 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

PILGRIMAGE

So after 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 ANNUAL MEETING
The pilgrimage was followed by the Annual Meeting itself which was chaired by our Lutheran President, Bishop Jürgen Johannesdotter (left).

Co-Moderators Report
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.

Looking 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’.

Treasurer’s Report
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 national churches.

Membership Report
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.

National Coordinator’s Reports
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.

Elections
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.

A 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’.

After tea the meeting dispersed. Everyone agreed that it had been a very valuable and stimulating day.


 

The previous Annual Meeting was on

Saturday 8th March 2014

at the Gustaf Adolf Kyrka,138 Park Lane, Liverpool, LI 8HG, UK.

The theme was :

A Living Church in Post-Modern Society

Because 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.

On this page you can find out about

Friday evening, when we were told about Liverpool's Lutheran community

Saturday morning, when we heard of some of Liverpool's ecumenical experiences

The AGM itself

Saturday afternoon, when we faced some of the challenges of being Church in a post-modern and post-Christian society

 

Friday evening

We signed 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 introduction to

The Scandinavian Seamen's Church

He 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 provided.

Though today 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.”

You can read his presentation here.

Next Mr Roger Metcalfe explained some recent developments in the congregation’s life and organisation and told us about

Liverpool’s International Nordic Community (LiNC)

From its 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 activities.

However 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.”

To read his presentation click here.

We 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

Lutherans in Liverpool

Stan described 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 Performing Arts.

His presentation is available here.

The evening ended with Night Prayer.

 

Saturday Morning

Saturday 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

Liverpool Experiences of Ecumenism

Neville 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.

Neville spoke in a direct and engaging way, and you can read what he said by clicking here.

He 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 local context.

His presentation is available here.

Worship

We then 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.

You can read the sermon here.

 

 

The Annual General Meeting

Our Lutheran 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.

The Moderators

In their 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.

They expressed 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.

The Treasurer

Erich Rust 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 Conference.

Reports

The Membership Secretary and National Coordinators presented written reports which will be summarised in The Window.

Constitution

The meeting approved two small amendments to the Society’s Constitution. These can be seen on the website.

Elections

Our Co-Moderators, Jaakko Rusama and Michael Ipgrave, Secretary, Dick Lewis, and Treasurer, Erich Rust, were all re-elected to serve for the coming year.

Bishop Johannesdotter thanked everyone for their contributions to the work of our Society, and our Anglican Co-President, John Arnold, closed the meeting with prayer.

The meeting was followed by a wonderful lunch provided by the Gustaf Adolf Church.

 

Saturday Afternoon

The Rev Prof Peter McGrail of Liverpool Hope University, a Roman Catholic liturgist, spoke about the challenges and opportunities of

Celebrating Liturgy in a Post-Modern Society.

We 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?

He offered 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 post-modern way.

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 old-fashioned structures.’

So what 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.

His full presentation can be seen here.

Dr Rachel Jordan, the National Mission and Evangelism Adviser to the Church of England, then spoke on

Working Together in the Mission of God in a Post-Christian Society.

The 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 to lead!

Rachel reassured 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.

Rachel said that the true test of any church, ‘traditional’ or ‘Fresh Expression’ is to ask the question, ‘Are you making disciples?’

Her presentation was laced with statistics, stories and examples. You can read it here.

After 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 USA.

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 a copy

 

If you would like to see what went on at our AGMs between last year and 2007 click here.

 

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