Porvoo conference explores Eucharistic life
The Church in Wales is a member of the Porvoo Communion of Churches and three of our clergy attended its recent consultation in Madrid to explore the theme of 'Life in the Eucharist'. Here are their reflections.
The Porvoo Communion of Churches is an association of Anglican and Lutheran churches committed to "a common life in mission and service". The member churches of the Communion are devoted to mutual prayer and support and united by a sense of belonging to one another in Christ and a shared participation in Christ’s reconciling work.
In October 2023, representatives from the member churches met in Madrid, Spain, to explore the theme of "Life in the Eucharist". Among those in attendance were three representatives from the Church in Wales: Canon Dr Ainsley Griffiths (Director of Faith, Order and Unity), Canon Andrea Jones (Mission Area Leader for the Borderlands Mission Area and Canon Missioner at St Asaph Cathedral), and Dr Jordan Hillebert (Director of Formation, St Padarn’s Institute).
The week was hosted by Carlos López Lozano, Bishop of Madrid in the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church. As well as offering warm hospitality throughout the week, Bishop Carlos presided at the opening Eucharist and introduced the representatives to the liturgical riches of the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church, which draws heavily and creatively on the ancient Mozarabic eucharist rite. Bishop Carlos also provided a tour of Toledo, a city of historical and religious significance to Christians, Muslims, and Jews. While in Toledo, participants exchanged greetings and prayers with Monsignor Francisco Cerro Chaves, Metropolitan Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain.
There was a shared conviction of the centrality of the eucharist in the Church’s ministry and mission in a secular age
Throughout the various sessions, participants discussed what it meant to live a sacramental life in communion in 21st Century secularised Europe. According to Jordan, "it was a tremendous privilege to think with and learn from brothers and sisters from diverse contexts and ecclesial communities. There was a shared conviction among the members of the centrality of the eucharist in the Church’s ministry and mission in a secular age, and it was inspiring to hear how that conviction has informed the various members’ approaches to discipleship and evangelism."
Most importantly, the week was structured around communal worship and prayer. Drawing upon the liturgical resources of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Latvian Church Worldwide, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, the Lusitanian Church, Portugal, and the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church, participants prayed for each other’s ministries and for the work of God’s Kingdom in the various churches of the Porvoo Communion. According to Andrea, "Grounding everything we learnt and reflected upon during the conference in worship was most important and we were all refreshed by sharing in worship with delegates from different traditions."
Reflecting on the week as a whole, Ainsley notes, "Being a member church of the Porvoo Communion sets our shared quest for unity in Christ within a bright, dynamic, international setting, one in which eucharistic fellowship and the interchangeability of ordained ministries are treasured achievements. We can learn much from this union of Anglicans and Lutherans that can inform and invigorate our ecumenical commitments here in Wales as the Church in Wales seeks deeper bonds with Christians from whom we are separated by divisions of history, theology and ecclesiology. Meeting this year within a Roman Catholic majority country provided added insights, not least the challenge to clarify our understanding and practice of the Eucharist in the hope that, one day, we will become one unbroken body formed by our sharing together the broken body of the Lord, the one who has become for us the Bread of Life."