Since September 2006 roughly three dozen people (half of them in this diocese, half in our partner diocese of Växjö) have been working on issues of mission and development.
At first, each diocesan group worked independently, with parallel monthly seminars in Växjö and in Oxford. Then in February the two groups met at Clanfield in west Oxfordshire. Last month, the joint group met again, this time in Kastlösa, on the island of Öland in Sweden.
In a Diocesan retreat centre, serenaded by nightingales, we explored various forms of worship including Heliga Danser (Holy Dance), the use of the ‘Pearls of Life’ (a kind of rosary), and a Eucharist with the different parts of the service planned and led by mixed groups of Växjö and Oxford delegates.
We also learnt about different experiences of mission, from local mission in a Swedish parish, to mission in South America and dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Through visits to nature reserves, cathedrals and churches, we explored the local and natural history of the area and the history of the church in the diocese. We also worked in groups looking at key issues such as world poverty, climate change and religious conflict.
Alongside this, the good company of friends from our diocese and Växjö, contributed to making our stay a fruitful and educational time.
We’ve moved one step further in the building of a group of ‘internationally committed people’ in each diocese who hope to be catalysts for mission both for their own congregations and deaneries and, perhaps more importantly, for the wider Church.
Beren Hartless is principal of the Diocesan Ordained Local Ministry Team. Katie Hartless is involved in co-ordination of the diocese’s World Church Year programme.
These are photographs taken by a participant in the gathering at Kastlösa: