PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ARCHDEACONRY GATHERING OF THE GERMAN AND NORDIC AND BALTIC DEANERY SYNODS FROM 6th to 9th OCTOBER 2022 IN STUTTGART
From Reykjavik to Riga, from Trondheim to Freiburg, clergy and lay synod delegates gathered from the Nordic and Baltic Deanery and the Deanery of Germany for a joint meeting of the Archdeaconry in Stuttgart, the first of its kind in about 24 years.
The clergy gathered first for a chapter meeting and were able to share challenges from the lockdown and the rising energy prices. The effects of the war in Ukraine are felt across the archdeaconry not only due to an influx of Ukrainian refugees, who are being welcomed in many of our chaplaincies across the archdeaconry, but also the complications arising in Finland with the influx of Russians fleeing conscription and furthermore the complex situation in Latvia which has a sizable Russian speaking minority. The general mood in the countries bordering Russia is one of heightened guard but not of panic.
We were hosted by the Erlöserkirche (Church of the Redemption) in the Landeskirche of Württemberg, a sign of the deepening friendship nurtured by the Meissen Agreement between our two churches.
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Antonio Ablon, himself a refugee from the Philippines now settled in Germany spoke movingly of the struggles of the indigenous people in his native Mindanao against the military who are seeking to clear the land for western investments.
The meeting was able to hear reports about the general assembly of the WCC which met in Germany, at which several of our archdeaconry clergy were present and hosted participants in their parishes. Our Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel and the Revd Vinod Victor of Freiburg presented the publication The Journey in Servanthood – The DNA of a Confident Church, which was launched at the WCC Assembly, and we commend this resource throughout our diocese which contains essays from many leaders in our diocese and other global voices on key current issues.
Bible studies were led by Dr Clare Amos who helped us to reflect deeper into the theme of the Assembly Christ´s Love Moves the Church to Reconciliation and Unity, also the theme of this Archdeaconry gathering of both our Deanery Synods.
The German deanery environmental officer the Revd Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler spoke of the urgency to change our own lifestyles as individuals and as communities to avoid further catastrophic damage to our planet.
We received an update on the work of the racial justice group and were pleased that the first international conference on racism hosted by our diocese will be held in Freiburg in October 2023.
Dr Amos introduced the exciting lay discipleship course, which is being launched next week, which will equip the people in the diocese theologically to confidently move forward as disciples of Christ in this diocese.
On the theme Mission and Evangelism Revd Stephen Walton and the Revd Canon Joanna Udal shared perspectives from scripture and from contemporary life and we noted the development of new work in northern Germany, where the deanery is looking to provide effective ministry amongst English speaking Christians in this new work.
It was greatly helpful to have the Diocesan Secretary, Andrew Caspari present the current financial situation and encourage the gathering to sustain the good efforts in the chaplaincies for their future in mission and service.
The exchange of experiences and the mutual support that was offered between the two deaneries will strengthen our common mission and further and deepen the unity we treasure in this diocese.
The Archdeaconry also recognized the 20-year ministry and service of the Rt Revd Dr David Hamid, the longest serving Bishop in the Church of England.
The Archdeaconry expresses its sincere thanks to the Chaplain of St Catherine´s Stuttgart, Revd Kara Werner and her team for the invaluable support they provided and its Director of music, Stephen Brown, who along with Lucy Williams, an opera singer and Valdis Bizuns, a much sought-after trumpet player, enriched and inspired the gathering with a splendid concert of music for contralto, trumpet and organ.
The Synod ended with a significant ecumenical service at which Bishop David presided and the Lutheran Stadt Dekan of Stuttgart, Søren Schwesig, preached, another sign of greater unity and closer fellowship.