Visit affirms links between our churches and Latvia

by Michael Ford last modified 18 Jun, 2019 03:57 PM

This week saw a visit to our Diocese by a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, led by Archbishop Janis Vanags.

The Diocese of Salisbury has been linked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) since the late 1980s and, at its heart, the link is an expression of Christian fellowship and mutual support through visits, friendship, letters, emails, and prayer.

The group began their visit with Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral, before spending Friday evening (14th June) with the Chairman of the Latvia Working Party, the Ven Alan Jeans, Archdeacon of Sarum.

The party also met with our Bishop’s Staff where they discussed a review of the nearly 30 years of the link established following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and heard from Canon Jane Charman who spoke to them about 'Living with difference and disagreement: Mutual flourishing and the 5 Guiding Principles within the Church of England'.

On Saturday, Canon Paul Richardson, the Secretary of Latvia Working Party, and the Bishop’s Chaplain Canon Tony Monds, took the visiting group to Hilfield Friary to meet Brother Clark, the Guardian, to learn about Anglican Franciscans.

After Midday Prayer, the Eucharist and lunch and a chance to admire the vine from whose grapes Hilfield make their own communion wine, the group met with our Rural Hope programme manager, Sarah Keen, and Alice Farnhill, Rural Field Officer for the Sherborne Archdeaconry, who explained the programme to them.

The visitors then enjoyed some Dorset sightseeing on the way back to Sarum College, where they stayed during their visit.

On the Sunday, the visitors travelled to worship at Sixpenny Handley and joined Canon Richard Hancock and his congregation for a Father’s Day Family Service at St Mary’s church followed by a lunch at the local community bar, The Penny Tap, as part of Father’s Day community celebrations. The party also visited the tiny chapel of Gussage St Andrew to view its ancient medieval wall paintings.

Archbishop Janis presented Bishop Nicholas with a stained glass reproduction of the badge of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and a copy of Luther's Small Catechism.

Both affirmed their commitment to the link between the Diocese and ELCL and Bishop Nicholas said of the visit:

"I was delighted to welcome Archbishop Janis and his colleagues to our Diocese. It is the personal contact and friendship that arises out of visits between the two countries that is the vital element that makes the link a reality.

"Where you stand affects what you can see. We have different histories and the view of the world from Latvia is different, particularly of Europe. Their visit has enriched our shared encounter with Christ. Our prayers travel with them back to Latvia."

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