Visit of the working group from Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland

On the days the 23rd to 26th of April 2015 we welcomed special guests – our brothers and sisters from our sister Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, here in Slovakia. It was the Working group of people for Eastern Middle Europe of the Council for International Relations, which is led by Bishop of Diocese Mikkeli Dr. Seppo Häkkinen, who is also the Chairman of the working group and oberkirchenrat Rev.Dr. Kimmo Kääriäinen.

The main priority of this working group is visits to the national Lutheran sister churches and their congregations, but also insights to the ecumenical relations and to the lives of the other churches and even religions belongs to their interests. Also matters relating to theological education and to the social environment together with the current public issues meet their interest, also cultural aspects of the country.

The schedule of the visit was very varied and rich. On Thursday after arrival to Slovakia they had a lunch meeting at the Embassy of Finland in Bratislava, where they were accepted by chargé d'affaires Henna Knuuttila. Then was meeting at the General Bishop´s Office with Bishop of the Western District Mgr. Milan Krivda. For the guests was prepared presentation about history and activities of ECAC in Slovakia and discussion about current situation of the church in Slovakia. After this meeting followed meeting with representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia. On this meeting was also attended spokesmen of the Conference of Roman-catholic bishops in Slovakia CSILic. Martin Kramara.

The Friday program was in the spirit of ecumenical contacts with other churches in Slovakia. On request of our guests we visited Federation of the Jewish community coupled with visit of Chatam Sofer memorial. Then was meeting with chairman of the Church of Brethren ThDr. Ing. Jánom Henželom, PhD. and about study programs, activites and plans for the future and possibilities of education spoke dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Faculty Comenius University in Bratislava doc. Ľubomír Batka, PhD.

On Saturday was presented our guests working activity in congregation Martin and their activities especially with the development of education and mission. In a space of Biblical School in Martin was meeting with Bishop of the Eastern District Mgr. Slavomír Sabol and with pastors from Liptov-Orava and Turiec seniorate and also with employees of evangelical primary school, gymnasium and biblical school. The topic of the meeting was: secularization and mission; reaching people, especially young adults in bigger cities; system of continuing education of pastors in Finland. The last topic was mission between Roma people. On the road from Martin to Bratislava we wanted to show to our guests the tradition of our ancestors therefore we visited articular-wooden church in Istebné.

On Sunday we were at service in congregation of Bratislava-Petržalka. Bishop of Diocese Mikkeli Seppo Häkkinen had a sermon. In the afternoon we had a time for short visit city of Svätý Jur, where Bishop emeritus Júlis Filo presented diaconal facility, Elderly house and centre of social services Diaconia. Inspector of the congregation Svätý Jur Ing. Július Filo ml. welcomed the guests and spoke about history and activities. In the city of Svätý Jur was held typical „svätojurské“ feast and so our brothers and sisters from Finland could see typical atmosphere of the feast in Slovakia.

Lucia Martonová, secretary for foreign relations, | 30.4.2015

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Grafické spracovanie:Ladislav Menyhart