Trip to Tallinn

By Kerry Roughton – Head of Programme Management and Strategy Support at the Diocese of Carlisle

Earlier this month, representatives from the Diocese of Carlisle attended a Network Gathering with the Norwegian Mission Society (NMS) in Tallinn, Estonia. NMS have a long-standing relationship with the Diocese where we are blessed to partner in the gospel together.

The Network Gathering calls together various partners, missions, and donors to the Norwegian society, with the primary focus of continuing good relationships, learning together, and ministering with one another. In Tallinn there were over 100 representatives from projects in Norway, England, Estonia, and France, with many further nationalities represented by the attendees backgrounds including Cameroon, the USA, Brazil, Finland and Germany.

The theme of the Network Gathering was ‘The Art of Living Together’, exploring the concept of conviviality, and how we live with one another where different beliefs, cultures, understandings reside in the same place, or even the same church. We heard presentations on Church Planting in Europe’s cultural capitals, Ecumenism in Estonia, and Use Your Talents, an Asset Based development approach for church congregations, as well as visiting NMS funded Church Plants in Tallinn.

A highlight was a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, which supports many of the country’s Ukrainian refugees (Estonia, a country with a population of 1.3 million, have accepted over 50,000 Ukrainian Refugees since the war with Russia began). The centre particularly supports through art therapy, helping children to express themselves, and remember loved ones who have passed away or are still back in Ukraine, through painting and calligraphy.

We also were hosted by Archbishop Urmas Viilma, the primate for the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, in a dinner at the consistory in Tallinn. It was fantastic to have insight into the history of the Church in Tallinn, and hear the work that Archbishop Urmas has taken forward in giving a voice to the church in the political and cultural sphere’s in Estonia.

The Art of Living Together reminds us, in a time of division and polarisation, of the joy that caring for one another can be. The Network Gathering provided a unique space for reflection and fellowship as we seek to explore what conviviality means for the church of today, and we look forward to exploring further with our friends from around Europe what this can look like in the future.

Kerry Roughton – Head of Programme Management and Strategy Support at the Diocese of Carlisle