We are hosting the Primates of the Churches of the Porvoo Communion in Edinburgh this week. If you somehow missed the Porvoo Communion … it brings together leaders of the Anglican Provinces of the British Isles, the Episcopalian Churches of the Iberian Peninsula and the Lutheran Churches of Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Some are archbishops and some – like myself – are Primus inter Pares. It’s a relationship of full communion with full interchange of ministries.
As I have become more familiar with their context, I’ve started to understand more of their diversity. Some are state – or were so until recently – churches sustained by tax revenues. In the face of that amazing wealth, we fall back on my mantra of being a ‘church of loaves and fishes’. Others are minority churches. Some are very liberal while the churches of the Baltic States are in general more conservative.
Time has passed and we actually know each other relatively well. I’ve had the opportunity of visiting Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. So we can talk about the ‘below the surface’ movements in Norway and the challenge posed by a newly-resurgent Russia for those in the East. Migration is of course a huge issue – Sweden of course is being remarkably generous in its willingness to receive migrants and refugees.
Today we have been received by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and had a ‘walk of history’ down the Royal Mile. These relationships are important – we would be the poorer without them