This past spring, Bishop Roland Gustaffson, Prime Bishop of the Mission Province of Sweden, along with the Rev. Bengt Birgsson, General Secretary of the Mission Province, visited The Abbey at Pawley’s Island to see how the church plant functions and learn to implement some of its strategies.
The visit came on the heels of a March church planting seminar that Apostolic Vicar Philip Jones taught in Sweden as part of The Mission’s ecumenical fellowship with other mission-minded Christians in Northern Europe. Afterward, the Swedish Bishops sought to witness firsthand the fruits of a church plant begun under both lay and episcopal leadership—specifically how it would look for a bishop to lead such an effort. By visiting The Abbey at Pawley’s Island in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, they hoped to further appropriate the knowledge that Bishop Jones shared with them on his visit. They were also coming to meet with the Diocese of the Holy Cross’s Bishop, Paul Hewett, and observe his church plant at Epiphany Cathedral. Last but not least, they were invited to be observers at the North American Lutheran Church’s annual meeting.
Canon Kevin Donlon greeted the Swedish leaders and spent a day meeting with them about furthering the cordial relationship between the two Mission entities. Ross and Marie Lindsay of The Abbey at Pawley’s hosted the two special guests for dinner, joined by the Rev. Dr. Bob Grant and his wife Susan. The leaders from Sweden were happy to meet Dr. Lindsay as they had read with interest his book about All Saints, Building a Church that Lasts.
On Sunday they joined in worship at The Abbey at Pawleys and had the opportunity to meet again with church planter and rector Bishop Chuck Murphy, who had visited with Bishop Roland when he attended the 2013 Winter Conference. Bishop Roland and the Rev. Bengt then traveled to Charleston to attend the Synod for the North American Lutheran Church and then to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit Epiphany Cathedral. There they enjoyed a meeting with its rector Bishop Paul, an Associate Member of the Society and Chair of the Federation of Anglican Churches in America, of which the Mission is a constitutive member.
Canon Kevin and the Rev. Bengt pledged to continue to explore the proposed fellowship agreement for common mission with the hopes for significant development by the end of 2014.