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Friday, 25 February 2011

Porvoo Churches examine their responses to conflict

Archbishop Andres Põder of Estonia celebrates in Holy Spirit Church assisted by the Revd Arho Tuhkru
From 20 to 23 February, 30 representatives from Churches in the Porvoo Communion gathered in Tallinn, Estonia, for a consultation entitled “Responding to Conflict”. The consultation was chaired jointly by Bishop Martin Wharton of Newcastle and Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson of Iceland. 5 circumstances in which the Churches respond to conflict were examined:

1. Within the human person and between individuals
2. Within churches and congregations
3. Across religious, ethnic or cultural roots
4. Between creation and human beings
5. Between Church and State.

The members of the consultation heard various presentations on

1.  the political and religious conflict (using Ireland as a case study);
2.  diaconal perspectives in response to conflict;
3.  authority, conflict and leadership; and
4.  psychological perspectives.

The Diocese in Europe was represented by the Revd Rupert Moreton, the Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Finland, who facilitated workshops on conflict within churches and congregations. I was present as a “keynote listener” whose task was to hear, distill and communicate to the assembly the wisdom and insights expressed in workshops, small groups, bible studies and plenary presentations.

The Diocese has one congregation in Tallinn, Sts Timothy and Titus. Its priest is the Revd Gustav Piir, a priest of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia, but who is licensed for our Church of England work under the provisions of the Porvoo Agreement. Fr Gustav was present for the consultation, but representing the host Church of Estonia.

Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, Sri Lanka, (a land which has known its share of conflict, and where peace with justice is yet to be achieved) led bible studies each day, drawing out perspectives on Jesus’s own response to conflict. Bishop Duleep never quite warmed up as he had flown straight in from Sri Lanka to Tallinn where the temperature did not rise above -20C for the duration of the meeting!

The results and insights of the consultation will now be forwarded to the Porvoo Contact Group for consideration at their meeting in Cardiff in October. One possible outcome may be a framework which will help Churches respond to conflict in various areas.

The official website of the Porvoo Churches is here.

The Revd Gustav Piir translates for Archbishop Andres Põder
St Mary's Cathedral, Tallinn

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