On All Saints’ Day, 1st November, a group from the United Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, led by their Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, will fly out of Dublin to Helsinki to make a visit to the Diocese of Borgå, the Swedish speaking Diocese in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The group has been invited by the Bishop of Borgå, the Right Reverend Dr Björn Vikström, who visited Cork with his Diocesan staff in June 2016.
The Cork group will visit Helsinki, Porvoo, Tampere and Turku. Porvoo is the Finnish name of the city and diocese that gave its name in October 1992 to the Porvoo Common Statement resulting in the Porvoo Communion of Churches, and, as a result, creating the largest ecclesial grouping of Christians in northern Europe: four Anglican churches from these islands, as well as the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran Churches (except Latvia which has observer status). Bishop Colton was involved in the process, on behalf of the Church of Ireland, that led to that international agreement.
The group from Cork, Cloyne and Ross have a busy week ahead. They will meet with the Church Council and Swedish Speaking staff of the Diocese of Borgå. When they meet the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland they will be joined by the Irish Ambassador in Finland, Maeve Collins and some of her colleagues at the Irish Embassy in Helsinki. There will be a meeting in Helsinki about Church music in the Swedish speaking parish as part of the Cork, Cloyne and Ross Diocesan Church Music Scheme and creating connections between church musicians. There will be visits in Helsinki to the Cathedral and to the Church of the Rock.
A full day will be spent in Porvoo where, as well as visiting the famous cathedral, there will be a visit to the Chapter to meet the co-workers in the Diocese, and a briefing from the Rev. Tuomas Mäkipää, from the Anglican Chaplaincy of St. Nicholas, Helsinki. There will be an evening reception as guests of Bishop and Mrs Vikström in Bishop’s House. Bishop and Mrs Susan Colton will reciprocate hospitality later in the visit whiel staying in the city of Turku.
One of the other highlights will be a visit on Saturday 4th November to Toijala where there is a church day for teenagers “Höstdagar” , approximately 500 16-18 year old. (It’s an annual camp for teenagers, for those participating in confirmation education and for their leaders). Afterwards a courtesy visit will be made to the Bishop of Tampere, the Right Reverend Dr Matti Repo, before the group continue to the city of Turku (Åbo).
On Sunday morning, 5th November, Finnish National Television will broadcast the national Finnish Reformation 500 Service from Turku Cathedral at which the Cork group will be present. Afterwards they will receive a briefing from a representative of the Åbo Akademi, ThD Mikael Lindfelt, at the faculty of Theology.
The busy schedule will conclude on Monday, 6th November with a visit to the meeting of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which Bishop Colton has been invited to address.