|St Ethelberga of Barking who founded All Hallows in 675|
The Anglican-Lutheran Society is an ecumenical body which brings Lutherans and Anglicans closer together in common cause for the unity of Christ's Church. It promotes a knowledge of our respective traditions and opportunities for common worship, study, witness and, of course, friendship.
Last Saturday, 6 March, the Annual Meeting was held virtually, hosted by the Church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower in London and their vicar, the Revd Dr Katherine Hedderly. It was a world-wide gathering of friends indeed. Members hail from 37 countries (so far!). The business of the Annual Meeting was transacted with the gentle leadership of the Co-Moderators, Bishop Michael Ipgrave (Anglican) and the Revd Dr Jaakko Rusama (Lutheran). At the meeting, I was honoured to be elected the Anglican President to serve alongside my dear friend and sister (Lutheran) Bishop Jana Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, also elected at the same time.
|Bishop Jana Jana Jeruma-Grinberga|
But the large part of the day was devoted to exploring together an important theme, of interest to Christians everywhere and of every tradition: "Witness Through Service and Sacrifice: Martyrdom in the Church Today".
|Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani|
Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani led a very personal and thought provoking session based on her experience as a Persian Christian, whose father was a bishop in Iran, and her brother a martyr of the Church in that country. She shared some deep insights and some lessons for today's Church, where we are often worried about growth and numbers, setting goals and outcomes. Bishop Guli encouraged us, inspired by the martyrs, to be less fearful about loss, to have hope, "to let go of what has been to allow something new to be born".
Henrietta Blyth, Chief Executive of ‘Open Doors UK’, gave a presentation on the persecution of Christians around the world today. She drew attention to the multiple ways that we can be vulnerable today, on account of our faith, our ethnicity, and our gender, sometimes, all together.
God has blessed the Anglican-Lutheran dialogue around the world in recent years. We have achieved together some remarkable convergence in matters of faith. In places such as the British Isles and Ireland and the Nordic and Baltic countries, and the USA and Canada, Anglican and Lutheran Churches have restored full communion between them. The Anglican Lutheran Society provides a common home for Anglicans and Lutherans to enjoy fellowship and learning, and to be together as friends as we journey together towards the unity which Christ wills for the Church.
I encourage Anglicans in this Diocese in Europe, who have an ecumenical commitment written into our DNA as a diocese, to consider membership. The website is here.