Introducing the Porvoo Communion:
The Porvoo Communion is a fellowship of Anglican and Lutheran churches in northern Europe who celebrate their unity as churches and who share a common sacramental life and ministry through the Porvoo Declaration.
Where is Porvoo?
Porvoo (pronounced Pore - voe) is a town in south-eastern Finland (also known as Borgå - its name in Swedish) where the members of the consultation worshipped on the final weekend of their work.
Who signed the Porvoo Declaration?
Eleven of the twelve churches which drafted the Porvoo Declaration endorsed it. The Lutheran Churches are the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania, the Church of Norway and the Church of Sweden. The Anglican churches are the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia has not yet made its decision.
What does it mean?
The Porvoo Declaration means that signatory churches:
- regard baptised members of each other's churches as members of their own
- welcome overseas congregation into the life of the receiving churches;
- welcome those who are ordained as bishops, priests and deacons in any of the ten churches to minister in accordance with the receiving churches' regulations;
- and consult on significant matters of faith and order, life and work.
This makes the Porvoo Communion an integral part of the day to day life of our own church. It is like our membership of the Anglican Communion. Porvoo Communion matters are dealt with by the Standing Committee of the General Synod.
How is this work sustained?
The work of the Porvoo Communion is sustained in a number of practical ways:
- A Contact Group with a representative of each signatory and each observer church meets annually
- By the participation of bishops in Episcopal ordinations.
- Every four years there is a Church Leaders' Consultation. The first was held in Turku, Finland in March 1998.
- Every four years there is a conference of theologians. The first is to be held in Edinburgh in September 2000.
- The Primates of the Porvoo Communion churches meet from time to time. They met at Trondheim, Norway in 1996 and will meet again in London in 1999.
- Diocesan and parish links have already been initiated. The Diocese of Connor is linked with the Diocese of Linköping in Sweden.
- Consultations of various kinds have been organised. Church lawyers met in 1998 and it is planned for Press and Information Officers also to meet soon.
- There is a Porvoo Cycle of Prayer.
- In general it is envisaged to build up contact in many areas of Church life, work and witness.
What difference does it make in Ireland?
We already know that some Church of Ireland people working in the Nordic and Baltic countries are already invoking the benefits of the Porvoo Agreement. Each year there are about 112,000 tourists to the Republic of Ireland alone from "Porvoo" countries. The probability is that most of these would be Lutherans. Of more immediate relevance is the fact that within the terms of marriage legislation Lutherans are "Protestant Episcopalians" and may, therefore, be married by banns or by Ordinary Licence.
The Contact Group:
Anglican - The Rt Revd J Martin Wharton, Bishop of Newcastle
Lutheran - The Right Revd Dr Ragnar Persenius, Bishop of Uppsala
Anglican - Rev Canon Dr. Charles Hill, England
Lutheran - The Revd Dr Matti Repo, Finland
More information about the Porvoo Communion is available from:
- The Co-Chairmen or the Co-Secretaries of the Contact Group
- In Ireland from the Church of Ireland member of the Contact Group: Revd John McDowell
Please click here to see the Report of the Second Porvoo Church Leaders’ Consultation which took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, in March 2002
Please click here to see upcoming events.
The Church of Ireland is also involved in some other ecclesial agreements which govern our relationships with some other churches. It should not be assumed that the Porvoo Agreement automatically governs our relationship with, for example, all Lutheran Churches.
The design at the top right of this page is a drawing of the cross on the eaves at the west end of Porvoo Cathedral.
This information may be copied and you are encouraged to do so. Please make it freely available in parishes and throughout the Church of Ireland.