History in the making
Church-leaders from the Porvoochurches have met in Trondheim, Tallinn and London to celebrate the solemn signing of the Porvoo Declaration.
If the early nineties, as far as the Porvoo implementation process was concerned, was dedicated to toilsome descision-making within the Churches involved, 1996 turned out to be the year of celebration. The threefold sequence of eucharistic services within which the Declaration was to be signed was begun in the beautiful Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, where the Church of Norway hosted the celebrations for the Scandinavian churches.
Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim 1 September 1996
In Nidaros Cathedral, said to be the jewel among Scandinavian Cathedrals, the primates of the ten signatory Churches or their representatives formally signed the Declaration and shared in the Eucharist together with some one thousand ecumenical guests and regular church-goers from all over the region.
The programme begun after lunch with a number of introductory lectures held in the ancient archbishop's palace, within walking distance of the Cathedral. Many people took opportunity to hear Professor Tjørhom and Bishop David Tustin both lay out the history of the agreement and indicate a possible way forward. When the floor was opened for questions and remarks many founding fathers and mothers of the Agreement stood up to give their account of what had happened.
In the service the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Most Revd Richard Holloway, gave a strong introduction to the deepened fellowship within the Porvoo Communion by urging the congregation, not the least the leaders of the churches, to take on the challenges of our times by breaking the chains of the churches without cutting its roots.
On this occasion only the Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish copies of the Declaration were signed, leaving the copies for the remaining Churches to be signed in either Tallinn (for the Baltic Churches) and London, for the Anglican Churches.
The Cathedral Church of Tallinn on 8 September
The service for the Baltic region was held in the Cathedral Church of Tallinn on 8 September. Preacher this time was the Most Revd Robert Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland. Music was performed by Tallinn cathedral choir Laudate Dominum and Charles' Church Concert Choir. Archbishop Kiivit of Estonia presided at the Eucharist with the Archbishops of Uppsala and Wales as concelebrants.
During the Tallinn service the copies of the Declaration for Estonia and Lithuania were signed. Prayers were said for the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Latvia which still is in the process of studying the Agreement.
Westminster Abbey, London, 28 November
The final celebration was held in Westminster Abbey on 28 November, in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The congregation included ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from Ireland and the Nordic and Baltic states, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, as well as members of the General Synod of the Church of England and a large number of clergy and church members. Representatives of the churches of Britain and Ireland were joined in the processions by ecumenical guests from overseas. The Archbishop of Canterbury presided, with the Bishop of Oslo and the Archbishop of Estonia as concelebrants, and the Revd Sr Gerd Swensson CSA as Deacon. The Archbishop of Turku and Finland preached a memorable sermon. The Archbishop of York led the congregation in a Dedication, in which they committed themselves to pray for the churches of the new Porvoo Communion.
Material from the ecumenical history before Porvoo: