This year, 31st October to be precise, marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation in Germany. From there the Reformation movement spread throughout Europe, including to Sweden in the 16th Century. Today the Church of Sweden, with which the Church of Ireland has historic links, including through the Porvoo Communion of Churches, is the largest evangelical Lutheran denomination in Europe.
The Church of Ireland, like the rest of the Anglican family of churches, regards itself as an Ancient Catholic, as well as a Reformed Church.
In this 500th anniversary year, this year’s Clergy Conference in Cork, Cloyne and Ross will, appropriately, have a Lutheran visitor from the Church of Sweden, and a Reformation focus as its theme. The speaker at this year’s Ballylickey event, will be the Reverend Dr Jan Eckerdal who is a Diocesan Chaplain with responsibility for theological training in the Diocese of Strängnäs, Church of Sweden. Jan’s overall theme will be The Lutheran Thread of the Church Catholic. Over the two days of the conference, he will deliver four papers.
‘”Conference” is the wrong word for this event,’ explains the Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, ‘but it’s difficult to find the right word.”
Bishop Colton continues:
Like most busy walks of life, the round of the clergyperson is busy and at times seems endless. I see this annual event first of all as a gift from me to the clergy of the Diocese, and an opportunity for them to stop together for a couple of days. I ask them every year the sort of themes they’d like to engage with in our Continuing Ministerial Education programme. All they have to do is arrive.
It is also as much about having lots of time to spend relaxing together and getting to know one another better as colleagues in ministry, which builds up the clergy team in the Diocese, and this, in turn, is good for our work in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
There’s time for praying, eating, socialising, talking, and getting to know the person you don’t really know well. Some go for extended walks or local visits, and one or two even play golf.
It’s all made possible by a generous bequest we received from the late Mrs Magill of Creagh Glebe near Skibbereen many years ago. Appropriately, we keep her memory alive with a speech and a toast to her memory at our evening meal. Each year too there is entertainment, sometimes a table quiz, and usually our renowned clergy ‘Oscars’ awards.
The subjects of Dr Eckerdal’s four papers this year will be:
- Anglicanism and Swedish Lutheranism: Two Kindred Spirits?
- Martin Luther: The Monk who changed Europe
- Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura
- What is a ‘Folk Church’?
Dr Jan Eckerdal has a PhD in Systematic Theology at Uppsala University. Jan’s published books and articles are especially centered on the modern ecclesiological heritage of the Church of Sweden and on missiology in a post-Christian culture. Jan lives in the small town Nyköping, south of Stockholm.