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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The Nordic Baltic Deanery Synod meets in North America (well, geologically speaking)

Clergy Chapter
The synod of the Nordic/Baltic Deanery met in Reykjavik from 14 to 15 September. Our priest in Iceland, the Revd Bjarni Þór Bjarnason, was the local host. Clergy and lay representatives from Latvia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland were welcomed by Church of Iceland leaders, including Bishop of Iceland, the Rt Revd Anges Sigurðardóttir who hosted a congenial dinner party for us at her home. 

The Very Revd Sveinn Valgeirsson, the Rector of the Cathedral parish welcomed us to the Sunday eucharist at which I was able to relicense Fr Bjarni for another term as Chaplain of St Thorlak's Anglican Church in the Icelandic capital. 

Dean Valgeirsson's Cathedral is incidentally one of the smallest in Europe. 

At the clergy chapter meeting held one day before the synod, the Dean of West Reykjavik, the Very Revd Helga Soffia Konradsdóttir, invited our clergy to join with those of her own deanery for a barbeque and an evening of fellowship. The communion between the Church of Iceland and the Church of England, established by the Porvoo Agreement, made us truly one family together at this synod.

Thingvellir - where two continents rub together
Major theological input was given on the theme of climate change by Professor Sólveig Anna Bóasdóttir of the Faculty of Theology and Relilgious Studies of the University of Iceland. We were also privileged to be led by Professor of Geophysics at the University, Dr Páll Einarsson, on a brief excursion to Þingvellir, the seat of the Icelandic parliament (the Alþing) from about 930 to 1798. It is also the site of a geological wonder - the intersection of two tectonic plates, the North American, and the Eurasian. Our synod meeting was, geologically speaking, held in North America! 

Fr Bjarni with Area Dean Nick Howe
The members of the Nordic/Baltic synod enjoy being seriously challenged in their bible studies, and this year was no exception. Area Dean Nick Howe led a bible study on "go therefore and make discples of all nations", from Matthew 28.19, exploring with us if the word "disciples" is actually referring to us, or whether this would be in fact a category error. Challenging food for thought given the present emphasis in the C of E on "discipleship". This was followed by the Chaplain of St Saviour's Riga, Bishop Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, exploring the justice imperatives from Micah 6.8 "What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

It was the last Nordic Baltic Deanery synod for Archdeacon Colin Williams, and the members presented him with a small gift to remember them, and Iceland. 

Lay Chair of Synod Nigel Rowley presents a gift to Archdeacon Colin
Area Dean for Finland Tuomas Mäkipää counting the synod fees with Fr Bjarni

ð = a vocalised "th"
Þ = a non-vocalised "th"

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