Bishop Philip Jones traveled to Sweden in March as part of The Mission’s ecumenical fellowship with other mission-minded Christians in Northern Europe, to give a seminar on church planting for The Mission Province of Sweden.
The trip originated from a 2012 meeting between leaders of The Mission and The Mission Province that established synergy in vision, spirituality and common story. After attending the 2013 Winter Conference at Bishop Chuck Murphy’s invitation, the Swedish presiding bishop asked The Mission to assist them with the idea of church planting.
The Mission Province of Sweden is one of two independent ecclesiastical provinces within the Church of Sweden, founded in 2003 by members of the “orthodox opposition.” With its own expression of the three streams (Catholic, Confessional and Evangelical), it is committed to church planting through an alternative ecclesiastical jurisdiction supporting new free Eucharistic communities (koinonias).
“The Mission Province of Sweden also contains the expressions found in the Church of Sweden on the doctrinal basis of the Book of Concord, which mirrors many Anglican formularies,” says Canon Kevin Donlon, who accompanied Bishop Jones on the visit and recently returned from Norway as part of a continuing ecclesial dialogue with the Nordic countries.
Bishop Jones and Canon Donlon arrived in Goteborg, Sweden, on March 13 and met with Bishop Roland Gustafsson of the Nordic Church, then attended a reception at The Mission Province School of Theology. Bishop Gustafson gave a warm welcome and reminded all present of the similar stories between The Mission Province and The Mission.
Bishop Jones began the next day with a Bible study similar to his message at the 2013 Winter Conference. He then addressed the question of church planting and his own personal journey, sharing the story of All Saints Dallas and the core values that helped them grow and flourish.
Bishop Jones also formed breakout groups to talk about how these values could be applied in the Swedish situation in light of the threat of secularism, as well as being a former part of a States Established Church. He then led a discussion on the tensions in ecclesiology that faithful orthodox Lutherans and Anglicans experience in the postmodern world.
All agreed that the seminar was a great success and a benefit to The Mission’s friends in The Mission Province. Sweden’s Church and People magazine reported, “It is valuable that the theme of church planting was brought to the fore. We have much to learn from … American Anglicans as we prayerfully work to build churches where the means of grace are at the center, and the living and risen Christ is preached.”
“The seminar forged a solid relationship for future partnership possibilities as Mission-minded orthodox Christians,” Canon Donlon says.