jeudi 3 avril 2014

Mission consultation in Finland

Sunset on the frozen lake, (c) CSG
I’m in Järvenpää since Monday, attending a Mission Consultation organised by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
With no more than 5°C in the best moments, the weather is supposed to be warm for the season, but I’m actually frozen! Thanks to God, I find warmth in the people!

The ELCF had the good idea to gather its partner churches from all around the world, to consult them on a wide range of subjects, before deciding on its own mission work priorities. According to me, this consultation shows the ecumenical openness of this church, even if it’s also linked with the fact that they have 7 different mission agencies and it’s a way for them to also make them work together and discover all the different relations one or the other have which such a wide number of churches. 
Some of the musicians
I really enjoyed the opening service, with very good music ; as I’m reformed, I’ve also deepened my experience of Lutheran liturgy (liturgical colours, Lord’s supper, etc.). During those days, I’ve met a lot of people and I’m really grateful to people who introduced me to others, helping me to develop my international network.  

We’ve heard very interesting people, some of them well know, other as unknown as me… Olav Fykse Tveit, from WCC, has pointed on the prayer that is involved in the reality in a very concrete way and not a way to “spiritualize” things, he also mentioned the cross as a way to question every power, and the shift of Christianity from the North to the South. He spoke about a positive approach of secularization, about mission from the margins and about the pilgrimage to justice and
O. Fykse Tveit (c) J Montes for WCC
peace… and a lot of other things I won’t mention here. What I enjoyed the most was the way he shared its own views while answering questions, after a more consensual presentation. 

Carlos Bock has presented the way LWF handles the new challenge of this changing world. He has used a word that has come back often after that: « empowerment ». As I understand it, it’s the way to train people in order not only to give them tools, but also to make them be able to create by themselves the tools they really need in their own context. But for that, we need to discern the gifts and also the potential in people at a very basic level. 
(c) J. Montes for WCC

Martin Junge spoke about « Josiah Kibira 2.0 ». The statement of J. Kibira was: “there is no church too poor not to be able to share anything with other, there is no church too rich to have nothing to learn from others”. Junge underlined that we can understand this sentence economically, with the rich churches in the Nord, or we can understand it according to inner dynamism, and then see the rich churches in the South… He reminded us that « a church on its own is a church at risk ».

During the consultation, we also talked about interreligious relations (I was part of this discussion, see here), had biblical studies and workshops about challenges and opportunities for mission nowadays, working from key-words coming for the different needs previously expressed by the churches: education and training, sustainability, leadership training, diakonia, deepening Christian and Lutheran identity, and exchange programmes to deepen relationships at all levels of the Churches.  

Rock Church
As always in this kind of international meeting, we’ve visited Helsinki, the “Rock Church” and the main Dom, and walking a few minutes alongside the port and in the city. As for now, 3 elements represents this country to me: word, rock and water. And we were provided a very nice evening program with a theatre group using living arts to proclaim the Gospel. 

I’ve enjoyed these days and the meeting I’ve made here. Interesting incomes and testimonies have enriched me. I also know better the ELCF at the end of these days, and this will be useful in my contacts to come with this church.

Claire Sixt Gateuille

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