Was it co-incidence or the work of the Holy Spirit?

A party from the Diocese of Oxford asked themselves that question when they discovered, more than a year after deciding on the dates of a pilgrimage to their partner diocese of Vaxjo in Sweden, that the weekend they had chosen was the very one that the Swedish diocese had chosen to say goodbye to Bishop Anders Wejryd before his translation at Uppsala as Archbishop in succession to Karl Gustav Hamar.

When the co-incidence became known in Sweden, the Oxfordshire party, led by myself and Canon Peter Ball, was invited to take part in the events marking the Bishop’s farewell.

As European Officer for the Oxford diocese, and very much involved in the Oxford-Vaxjo link, I was asked to share in the Bishop’s last ordination at the Cathedral in the morning, while another pilgrim, diocesan synod lay chair, Penny Keens, made a presentation to Bishop Anders on behalf of our diocese at the farewell celebration at Kronoberg in the afternoon.

In reply, Bishop Anders spoke warmly of what had been achieved through the link, which was first discussed, largely on his initiative, in 1999 and was formally recognised by the two dioceses five years later.  He expressed hope that the link would continue to flourish.

The agreement linking the two dioceses is the Porvoo Agreement – a covenant signed by Bishop Anders and Bishop Richard Harries in Christ Church Cathedral in 2003 and in Sweden nine months later.  There have been regular exchanges between the two dioceses ever since and from September this year for nine months representatives of each diocese will participate in a course on mission and development issues.

Tony Dickinson is the Diocese of Vaxjo link Co-ordinator