Bishop Andreas Aarflot (seated) with Bp John Hind, Bp Stephen Platten, Dr Colin Podmore, Bp David Tustin, the Very Revd John Arnold, Dame Dr Mary Tanner and Bp Christopher Hill
Bishop Andreas Aarflot was the bishop of Oslo from 1977 to 1998. He was also one of the architects of the Porvoo Agreement between the British and Irish Anglican Churches and the Lutheran Churches in the Nordic and Baltic Countries. In fact, it was he who coined the title for the official report of the conversations: Together in Mission and Ministry.
Bishop Aarflot, now aged 90, was in London recently to continue some ecumenical research. The priest of the Norwegian Church in London, the Revd Torbjørn Holt, a good friend of this diocese, invited a group of "old Porvoo hands" to a lunch and conversation in honour of Bishop Aarflot's visit. Fr Holt managed to gather many of the ecumenical leaders who worked on the Porvoo Agreement.
I was able to say to the Bishop that the work the ecumenical pioneers on the Porvoo Commission has transformed the life of this diocese. In Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Latvia, our Anglican life would be very much diminished if we could not work in visible unity with our Porvoo sister Churches in those countries. Not only do we have cross-appointments of clergy, but a deep awareness of belonging to a greater Church family. This is so important to us as Anglicans, being few in number and very much a minority Church in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Additionally, the model of unity contained in the Porvoo Agreement has attracted much interest across the ecumenical world, including from our Roman Catholic and Orthodox dialogue partners.