The 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation in Germany, together with the 25th Anniversary of the Porvoo Common Statement were brought together in the 2017 annual Clergy Conference at Ballylickey in Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
The guest speaker, the Reverend Dr Jan Eckerdal, Diocesan Chaplain with responsibility for Theological Education in the Diocese of Strängnäs in the Church of Sweden, spoke on the theme of The Lutheran Thread of the Church Catholic. In the first of his four talks – Anglicanism and Swedish Lutheranism: Two Kindred Spirits? – Dr Eckerdal engaged with and teased out the shared heritage of both Sweden and Ireland at key moments: the Christianisation of the countries, the Reformation experience, and, more recently, the Porvoo Agreement. These themes were referred to again and again throughout the clergy days together.
This year marks the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Reformation in Germany, a movement which spread and, very soon transformed Europe as a first step. That anniversary is on 31st October. As it happened, the last day of the Clergy Conference this year was on Wednesday 11th October, which was the 25th anniversary of the visit to Porvoo Cathedral in Finland for a Sunday morning celebration of the Eucharist by the representatives of the Anglican Churches in Britain and Ireland (including the Reverend Paul Colton, as he was then, representing the Church of Ireland, now Bishop of Cork), and the representatives of the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran Churches. The representatives had agreed the Porvoo Common Statement which, when signed by the participant churches in ensuing years established the Porvoo Communion of Churches.
The Cork, Cloyne and Ross Clergy Conference concluded in the Church of St Brendan the Navigator, Bantry on Wednesday 11th October with a celebration of the Eucharist. On the way into the church Dr Eckerdal asked Bishop Colton who Saint Brendan the Navigator is. ‘He discovered America’, said the Bishop. ‘Oh,’ said Dr Eckerdal, ‘we have a Viking who did that, but I’m sure we can agree that it wasn’t Christopher Columbus!’