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Past Conferences

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 mainland.

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

'Life Together : 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 conference:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

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:

‘The 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 magnificent building.

After 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.

Professor 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.

Similarly, Dr 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.

Dr Judith Maltby (below left) then considered ways in which the English Bible has been used in public worship, and the 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).

 

Every morning and evening conference members joined together for prayer arranged by the Rev Jochen Dallas in the chapel of Sarum College (above left).

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’.

On 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.

The 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.

 

Earlier Conferences

Two years ago our conference was in Turku, Finland, from Friday 11th to Tuesday 15th September 2009.

The Venue
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.

The Participants

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.

    

The Programme
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 fashioned fun.

 

'Keeping Connected'
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.

 

Professor Tibor Fabiny from Hungary described his experience of Church and Faith issues during the communist era.

 

The 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, Bishop 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 work?’

 

 

Dr 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!

 

The Worship
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.

 

On 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.

 

Sharing Experiences
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.

 

The 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.

 

 

Ms 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.

 

 

The 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.

 

 

Ms Lena Bondarenko from St Petersburg described the situation of the Lutheran Church in Russia and some of the issues being faced there today.

 

 

The Revs 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 information.

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 fun
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 thanks.

 

 

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.

 

On 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 passing!

 

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.

An 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.

On 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.’

 

In Short
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.

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Tampa, Florida

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 Mission'.

     •  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         meet.

     •  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 rapidly         changing world.

     •  2007 in Dublin the theme was 'Aspects of Reconciliation'. You can click here to         see something of what went on.

     •  2009 we were in Turku, Finland, as you can see from the account above.

     •  2011 it was the turn of Salisbury.

Each conference shares certain important features:

     •  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 worship together.

     •  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 here.


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