The Anglican-Lutheran Society
holds international conferences most years, often somewhere in
Europe and occasionally in the United States of America. The European
venues generally alternate between the British Isles and the European
Our last conference was held
in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, England. It ran from 3rd to 7th September,
2012 at the Anglican College of the Resurrection at Mirfield,
Yorkshire, UK. It was entitled
: Christian Ministry in Tomorrow's World.'
The programme was designed
to help people from all church affiliations who are either in
training for, or recently embarked upon an authorised ministry
of some kind, lay or ordained, to face up to the challenges of
the next few decades. Judging from the feedback we have received
it seems to have been a success.
You can catch a glimpse of what
went on by looking at the four daily bulletins issued during the
For a fuller account of what
went on, and to read the presentations for yourself, click here
In 2011 we met in Salisbury
fom 16th to 20th September. The theme was:
Word Read - The Word Preached’
Bill Sappenfield, Pastor of
Peace Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas, offers this personal account
of what went on. To read the papers presented by our speakers
just click on their names.
Members of the Anglican-Lutheran
Society gathered at Salisbury, England, in mid-September for our
bi-annual conference. We were taking the occasion of the 400th
anniversary of the Authorized Version of the Bible to organize
our presentations and our time together.
As my wife, Linda, and I approached
Sarum College, across from the cathedral, our first impressions
were of beauty and tranquillity. Our lasting impressions, however,
are of friendship and commitment.
The first evening was a time for settling in and meeting each
other. Before walking across to the cathedral for worship Dr
John Arnold (left), our Anglican Co-President, gave us an
introduction to English Cathedral Evensong. When the service was
over we enjoyed an opportunity to have a first look round this
supper we were welcomed to the College by its Principal, Dr
Keith Lamdin (right), who explained something of the College’s
history and the programmes it offers. After that we received reports
from our national co-ordinators in different parts of the world.
The next morning our attention
turned to our programme which was titled The Word Preached, The
Word Read. There were separate presentations of earlier translations
by Luther and by Tyndale and, later in the day, about the Bible
in worship and in catechesis. Each of these presentations bore
the unique stamp of the context in which they were prepared.
Dorothea Wendebourg (left), of Berlin, told us about Luther’s
translation from the point of view of the impact that work has
had on the culture of Germany. All subsequent translations into
German had been heavily indebted to him.
Ralph Werrell (right) of the Tyndale Society provided fascinating
background to Tyndale’s English version which, he clai med,
was highly influential on the team of scholars who translated
the Authorized Version of the Bible.
Judith Maltby (below left) then considered ways in which the
English Bible has been used in public worship,
description given by Dr
Jaakko Rusama (right) of catechetical classes in Finland was
inextricable from the organization of the church in Finnish society.
It was a joy to use the Bible
we all share as a way of exploring the diverse lives and cultures
of our brothers and sisters who serve in the ministry of Jesus.
While the lectures reminded
us of our diversity, worship celebrated our unity.
During the course of the conference
we enjoyed sung evensong in Salisbury, and on the Sunday Bishop
Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, our Lutheran Co-Moderator, preached
the sermon at the morning Eucharist.
Later that day, on a coach
outing in the rain that included a quick glimpse of Stonehenge
from the shelter of the bus, we visited the city of Winchester.
There we enjoyed Choral Evensong in the cathedral and Dr
John Arnold preached the sermon(below).
morning and evening conference members joined together for prayer
arranged by the Rev Jochen Dallas in the chapel of Sarum College
The beautiful voices and ancient
words of the services, combined with the magnificence of our surroundings,
anchored our conversations in the presence of God.
On Sunday evening we watched
the film ‘Babette’s Feast’. It focused our attention
on an isolated Lutheran community on the Danish coast. We were
invited to consider the ways in which meals in the film could
be exclusive and inclusive. We saw the tension that can exist
when too much attention is given to the word preached and when
the congregation invests too much authority in the preacher. We
witnessed the liberating grace of a shared meal, the gift of someone
who remained hidden in the kitchen and which was mediated to the
participants by her ‘servants’.
Monday morning Professor
David Catchpole (right) took us further into our conference
theme. His plea for a more rigorous application of the historical-critical
method in Biblical translation, and his contrasting of ‘law’
and ‘wisdom’, were both challenging and illuminating.
After a tour of Salisbury Cathedral’s
stone yard and stained glass studio, the Rev Else
Hviid (left) of
the Danish Church in London introduced the communication theory
and practice of Søren Kierkegaard. His challenge to all
preachers is to avoid giving people answers and instead leave
them with questions. In this way we can help draw out of our listeners
the spirituality already hidden within them.
It was appropriate that our
last activity together on Tuesday morning was to be nourished
with the sacrament at which our Lutheran Co-President, Bishop
Jurgen Johannesdotter (right), preached. After that we travelled
away in diverse directions as one body.
The relationships, new and familiar, with friends from Britain,
Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Latvia, Romania,
and the United States were a needed reminder that the Great Commission
is a wider charge than the walls of my church building. As we
discussed the relationship of the church with the Bible, it became
obvious that our subject had much in common with the group that
was discussing it.
Bible is a gathering of voices from different backgrounds held
together by mutual love and common mission. Scripture speaks of
law and gospel; it gives us poetry and history; it demands justice
and proclaims grace.
So were we, learning of an
array of challenges in the homes of our friends that we could
not imagine in our own settings, but also learning of gifts and
resources that we had not considered could be available to us
where we live. It was the ongoing work of translating God’s
word to people in circumstances as varied as God’s creation
– and receiving the grace of fellowship.
Two years ago our conference was
in Turku, Finland, from Friday 11th to Tuesday 15th September
Turku is a delightful venue for a conference, and the Turku Christian
Institute is an ideal venue. It is full of lively students, more
than 500 of them, all following
a variety of theological programmes.
The welcome we received was very warm, the accommodation was excellent
– complete with sauna –
the food was superb and the conference
facilities state of the art.
We gathered from Namibia, Tanzania,
India, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia,
the United States and, of course, Finland. Most were members of
Anglican or Lutheran Churches, though there were also representatives
from the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches present. All were
willing to share their stories and to learn from each other.
Our programme had been put together by Dr Jaakko Rusama and his
team in Finland. It is so important to have a local ‘agent’
when staging a conference of this kind. The programme
included everything that members of our Society have come to regard
as important - some challenging input, a firm framework of worship,
opportunities to share experiences and insights, and good old
was our theme and it was given a very broad treatment.
To set the scene, Dr
Kimo Kääriäinen helped to connect us all to
Finnish Church Life.
Tibor Fabiny from Hungary described his experience of Church
and Faith issues during the communist era.
importance of keeping connected with our historical roots was
emphasised by Professor
Antti Raunio, who described research being undertaken by some
Finnish scholars which is leading them to re-evaluate some traditional
understandings of Martin Luther.
Reviewing Anglican-Lutheran Agreements,
Matti Repo asked why, in a Church where all are connected
through the giftings of the Spirit, the congregation prays so
fervently for the gift of the Holy Spirit for a newly consecrated
bishop? He concluded: ‘Who is to encourage and guide the
spiritually gifted if not the bishop in whom the Spirit is at
Risto Lehtonen gave a personal reflection on his more than
70 years of trying to realise the ecumenical vision in a variety
of contexts, and included some rather disturbing aspects of inter-Church
connectedness between the Church of England and the Finnish Church
during the Second World War.
Finally, we were brought right
up to date by Dr
Mika Pajunen (right), who, using PowerPoint, described the
blessings and the challenges in Anglican-Lutheran connectedness
in Finland today, and Professor
Mitzi Budde (left), who gave an account of how ‘Called
to Common Mission’ is working out in the USA.
You can find out a little more
about them, and in some cases you can read their presentations,
by clicking on their names. Summaries of all the sessions will
be included in the October and January editions of 'The Window',
which is sent to all members of the Society. If you would like
to receive them, and you're not already a member, join now!
Helen Harding, an Anglican Reader, was Conference Chaplain. She
had arranged a mixture of Anglican and Lutheran morning and evening
worship in which everyone took a part, and she helped us to keep
connected to our feelings. Each service included a brief address,
and Helen invited us to consider the birds of the air. We discovered
that long eared owls can turn their heads through 270º and
that there is a lot of good theology and ecclesiology to be found
simply by looking at feathers. It
is amazing how close Anglican and Lutheran liturgy is, and how
comfortable we all seem with each others' worship. We enjoyed
singing new English translations of a variety of Finnish hymns
old and new. After the Conference Dinner the Lutheran Completorium
was led by Bishop
Kari Mäkinen, who also preached, with the diocesan music
specialist, the Rev Mika Mäntyranta.
the Sunday our Anglican Co-Moderator, the Rt
Rev Rupert Hoare, preached at the Finnish service in Turku
Cathedral. Then we all attended the Swedish Service that followed.
It was a splendid act of worship. Members of our Conference took
part and the preacher was Bishop
Erik Vikström, former Lutheran President of our Society.
Click the links to read the sermons.
With people coming from many parts of the world it was important
that, in addition to the normal social interaction, opportunities
be given for sharing stories and exchanging ideas. Two conference
sessions were set aside for this.
First, people were invited to
attend two presentations from a choice of five.
Rt Rev Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, the newly elected Bishop of
the Lutheran Church in the United Kingdom, explored ideas about
‘Dislocation – Finding Connection – Keeping
Connected’, using a PowerPoint presentation.
Laura Lincoln, Coordinator of the Society’s work in
the USA, emphasised the importance of keeping connected and conducting
ecumenical conversations at grass roots level, especially when
times are difficult.
Rev Lennart Sjöström shared some of the issues facing
the Church of Sweden, particularly the ethical issues currently
before the Synod concerning same sex marriages.
Lena Bondarenko from St Petersburg described the situation
of the Lutheran Church in Russia and some of the issues being
faced there today.
Sekar Daniel and Augusty Gnana Gandhi from the Church of South
India spoke about the importance of connecting with young people
and encouraging them to become committed to Christian service
in their communities in Tamal Nadu.
If you click on the names you
can read their introductions, though not the discussions that
went on in each group. When the sessions were over people enjoyed
telling those who had been in other groups what had gone on in
the ones they had attended. It proved a valuable way of disseminating
The second set of groups took
place towards the end of the conference. People were encouraged
to share some of the insights they had gained and how they impacted
on their situation at home. They also identified issues that needed
further exploration in the final plenary and offered suggestions
concerning the future direction of the Society. These suggestions
will be considered by the Executive Committee and reported in
future issues of The Window.
Good old fashioned
This conference was pervaded by a feeling of warmth, cheerfulness
and genuine friendship. Local people joining on a day basis, or
even for particular sessions, found themselves welcomed and drawn
into what was already taking place. The whole atmosphere of the
Christian Institute, itself a warm, welcoming place, helped this
process, and the Director and his Staff deserve our heart-felt
On the first evening we were entertained
by Fyyrkantti, a folk dance and music group who used dance to
tell stories and had us all in fits of laughter. Language is no
barrier in dance! They then managed to persuade most of us to
join them on the dance floor in traditional Finnish ring dances.
It was all most enjoyable.
the Saturday we were taken on a cruise around the Turku Archipelago
on the steam ship ‘Ukkopekka’. The ship was wonderful
– all teak and polished brass – but the lunch served
in the dining room on board was even better.
Indeed, it was so extensive and
so delicious that it preoccupied a number of people to the extent
that they hardly noticed the magnificence of the scenery we were
We visited Naantali Parish Church,
an impressive Bridgettine Convent Church dating from the 15th
century,and then went on to Mannerlahti in Masku where the Vicar,
the Rev Aino Vesti, gave
a presentation on Finnish parish life. We were so envious of the
parish retreat house in which we were entertained, and it grounds
which rolled down to the water's edge.
unforgettable experience was visiting the Art Chapel of St Henry,
a modern piece of architecture, built entirely of wood coated
with copper, and designed to resemble a fish or, perhaps, a boat.
It was quite breathtaking and enveloped us with a rich sense of
the presence of God which drew us into prayer.
the Sunday the Turku Swedish congregation invited us all to their
Mission Lunch where they were promoting the work in Tanzania.
We enjoyed Tanzanian food, the friendship of the local people,
and entertainment before leaving the Church Hall to spend some
free time in Turku.
The Conference ended with a splendid
dinner at which our guests included His Eminence, John, Metropolitan
of Nicaea (pictured here with our Anglican President John Arnold),
the Bishop in Turku, the Dean of Turku Cathedral and a number
of other local leaders. After dinner the Metropolitan reminded
us all of the importance of our ecumenical endeavour: ‘We
should never forget that the main goal of all ecumenical activities
is, or at least should be, the visible unity of the Church.’
Everyone seems agreed that this conference has been one of the
very best our Society has enjoyed – and that is high praise
indeed! Thanks to Dr Rusama and his team, to the staff at the
Turku Christian Institute, to our session leaders, our Chaplain
and to all the participants for helping to make it so. The next
European Conference will be in September 2011.
The USA members (ILES) had a presence
at the National Workshop on Christian Unity at Tampa from 19th
to 22nd April 2010. Representatives of the Executive Committee
were due to be there to help emphasise the international character
of our Society. Unfortunately the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland
grounded all flights, so they were unable to attend.
To catch a glimpse of that event,
and the ILES activities there, go to the USA webpages at www.alsocietyusa.org
and click the NSCU 2010 link.
Our conferences are always both
topical and practical as you can see:
2000 in Alexandria, Virginia, involved a detailed consideration
of ‘Called to Common
2001 in Ratzeburg/Lübeck, Germany, examined different ways
in which our two traditions
use music in worship.
2002 in Waltham, Massachusetts, considered how Anglicans and Lutherans
in different parts
of the world understand the role and authority of bishops.
2003 in Liverpool, England, was a kind of extended ‘workshop'
with participants meeting
a wide variety of local Christian organizations to see how they
were sharing the
Christian Gospel in a city where many cultures and nationalities
2004 in Chicago, Illinois, looked at how our two traditions had
come to the USA, examined
ecumenical developments and wondered what the future might hold.
2005 in Tallinn, Estonia, the topic was ‘Living with Boundaries'
and was an opportunity
to share experiences of proclaiming the Christian Gospel in a
2007 in Dublin the theme was 'Aspects of Reconciliation'. You
here to see
something of what went on.
2009 we were in Turku, Finland, as you can see from the account
2011 it was the turn of Salisbury.
Each conference shares certain
People who are not themselves involved in ecumenical councils
or commissions can
meet some of the people who are.
Participants engage with a theme in a serious way and share in
Everything is done in a holiday atmosphere which enables people
to meet and get
to know one another and to explore the region in which the conference
is taking place.
You can see what we mean by looking
at two accounts of the Tallinn conference in 2005. Just click