Diocese of Lulea, Sweden
The Diocese of Norwich and Diocese of Luleå in the far north of Sweden share a strong link
A number of Norwich clergy have visited Luleå and vice versa and a number of Swedish groups have visited and already some are planned for 2014.
The link between the dioceses of Luleå and Norwich originated in 2001, when Bishop Rune Backlund, the then Bishop of Luleå, and his staff identified the need to link their diocese with a relatively accessible diocese in a Porvoo Fellowship member Church. Norwich was ultimately chosen, not least because some contact already existed in the person of the Revd Timothy Lawes, a parish priest from Norwich who, at that time, was working in Luleå.
Bishop Graham James was subsequently invited and he with two members of his staff visited Luleå in early 2002. It was agreed at that initial meeting that selected clergy should visit each other’s diocese and so, in February 2003, nine Norwich incumbents were hosted by nine incumbents in Luleå; this visit was reciprocated in October of the same year. By now friendships had been formed and inter-parish visits were arranged – in one case it was a deanery! – which in turn led to further friendships.
By 2009, however, some of those clergy in both dioceses had moved on and the initial impetus had been largely lost. Bishop Graham James and Bishop Hans Stiglund agreed in March 2009 that the link should be rejuvenated and, so that it should become mutually beneficial on a much broader basis, that it should also be formalised. Accordingly a link document was drawn up and agreed with the stated aim:
‘To create and develop an enduring and fruitful friendship between our two dioceses, as an expression of the Body of Christ, by exploring what we can give to each other; what we can receive from each other; and how we can work together.’
The English copy of this document was duly signed by both diocesan Bishops in Norwich Cathedral in November 2010, and the Swedish copy likewise in Luleå Cathedral in February 2011. Since then the link has been and continues to be developed in the area of ordination, parish ministry, music and youth work, and is gradually being expanded into other areas.