WELCOME...

to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.


For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.



Friday, 21 July 2017

Holidays!


I am taking a couple of weeks leave beginning Saturday 22 July. Do not expect many blog posts during this time!

My Chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller, or Mrs Bron Panter, or Mrs Emma Biaggiemma.biaggi@churchofengland.org at the Diocesan Office, are able to reach me, if there are any urgent matters.


Farewell to Catherine Jackson our Appointments Secretary

Catherine with Area Dean Medhat Sabry at Tangiers Interviews
Today is the last day for Catherine Jackson in her work as Appointments Secretary of the Diocese in Europe. Catherine has been serving this diocese in this position for almost 5 years now, and has been an integral part of the team serving the needs of our congregations.

Over these past years, she has overseen more than 100 appointments to our congregations, some of them very complex indeed. She has brought to the appointments process a youthful, competent and committed approach, always in line with modern HR standards. Her professional manner is something which so many of the laity of the diocese have commented on in my conversations with them. She has come to know, almost instinctively, the real and deep needs of a parish, and the anxieties which often worry clergy who are seeking an appointment with us.

Bishop's Staff studying Catherine's Appointments Report
A scattered diocese like ours requires clear and consistent ways of operating and Catherine continued to administer an efficient system to oversee the vacancy process, which requires dozens of steps, from the moment of resignation of the priest, to the moment of licensing of his or her successor. I know that the Archdeacons, Area Deans, and parish reps have relied on her to keep the whole process moving and for advice when problems occur. The needs of our churches are very varied, of course, and she has developed ways to tailor specific appointment pathways to meet particular needs, while always maintaining fairness for the prospective candidates and standards of equality and good process. An example of this is how, many years back, she pioneered the occasional "on-site" interview (as opposed to the interview being in London), when this is appropriate for the candidate or candidates and the congregation itself.

With members of Diocesan Synod in Cologne
Catherine has long considered this post as more than a job. For her it has been vocational. Thus, beyond her professional work as Appointments Secretary she has sought to enrich our diocesan life in other ways particularly through her music. Catherine is a gifted singer. She has performed at many services at diocesan events as well as at more lighthearted gatherings around the diocese.

In the Cathedral in Gibraltar
A pop-up talent show at an Archdeaconry Synod
Catherine tells me that she has found the diocese an "exciting place to be". She is impressed with the way our clergy and people "understand ecumenism in a very deep way" and and how, as a diocese, we have developed an "outstanding ministry to people from very different backgrounds". She has appreciated that the clergy and laity with whom she has worked "love what they are doing".

Well Catherine, we know that you have loved what you have been doing as well. And we will miss you and wish you every blessing in your new job, with the Department of International Trade.



Thursday, 20 July 2017

USPG, Serving Churches, Strengthening Communities

Bishop Saw John Wilme presides at the closing Mass
The theme of the 2017 USPG Conference was "Serving Churches, Strengthening Communities". Friends, supporters, diocesan representatives, staff and overseas partners of the mission agency gathered in High Leigh to explore this theme through 5 programme lenses:

  • Protecting health, 
  • Growing the church, 
  • Enabling livelihoods, 
  • Promoting justice and 
  • Responding to crises. 
USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is one of the oldest mission agencies in the Anglican Communion. Founded in 1701, it has been supporting Anglican Churches around the world in their mission to bring the fullness of life to the communities they serve. Many of our own Churches in the Diocese in Europe were founded and supported by USPG. 

Since 2015 USPG has been accompanying our Diocese in our work with refugees. Through funding, through provision of technical personnel, through planning for long-term strategies, USPG in an invaluable partner in our work. It was therefore a great pleasure to be able to give a keynote address on the theme of Responding to Crises and to share with the delegates to the conference how the Society has been working with us on refugee matters in Greece, Finland, and Morocco in particular, and what future plans might be developed.

Canon Grace Kaiso with Rebecca Boardman, USPG staff
On the periphery of the meeting I was able to have some planning discussions with USPG Staff and with the General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Revd Canon Grace Kaiso, about the possible secondment of a priest from a West African diocese to work with us in Morocco, in our ministry which is increasingly focussed on the Sub-Saharan migrant community there.  

I was also pleased to catch up with an old friend, Bishop Saw John Wilme, Bishop of Toungoo in Myanmar (Burma).


Monday, 10 July 2017

Anglican Old Catholic International Coordinating Council meets near Bonn


The relationship of full communion between Anglican Churches and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, is a result of what is likely the oldest ecumenical agreement between Churches - the Bonn Agreement of 1931. From 4 to 8 July in Königswinter near the city of Bonn itself, the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council (AOCICC) held its meetings. A visit was made to the Hotel Königshof in Bonn, on the banks of the Rhine. It was in this historic location that the text of the Bonn Agreement between the Anglicans and Old Catholics was signed on 2 July 1931. A photocopy of the original document was shared, a document which movingly even has some manuscript corrections made by the signatories.

Co-chairs Anglican Bishop Michael Burrows and Old Catholic Bishop Dick Schoon hold a facsimile of the Bonn Agreement


The Bonn Agreement is also likely one of the shortest ecumenical statements ever. The Old Catholic and Anglican Churches were brought into full communion on the basis of these brief affirmations:

  1. Each communion recognizes the catholicity and independence of the other and maintains its own.
  2. Each communion agrees to admit members of the other communion to participate in the sacraments.
  3. Full communion does not require from either communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith.


A significant matter on the agenda of AOCICC was the receiving of the results of the survey “Belonging together in Europe” commissioned by the Council in 2015. 106 responses were received from five countries across mainland Europe and reflected a high level of awareness of the relationship of full communion between Anglicans and Old Catholics. Respondents requested more resources for joint worship services as well as expressing the hope for more mutual engagement in service, witness and mission.



During the meeting one resource to assist our Churches to know more about each other was launched. It is a booklet entitled Anglicans and Old Catholics together in Europe. Copies will be made available through the Diocese in Europe office in London, and the Old Catholic Bishops' Conference Headquarters in Amersfoort NL.

Very encouraging reports of the AOCICC-sponsored young adult pilgrimage to Echternach were reviewed by the Council. I will write about that pilgrimage in another blog article.






Sunday, 9 July 2017

Nicolas Razafindratsima ordained priest

  

On Saturday 1 July the Revd Nicolas Razafindratsima was ordained to the priesthood in St George's Paris. It was a jubilant celebration, reflecting also the multicultural nature of St George's and indeed our diocese. Fr Nicolas is originally from Madagascar. There is a large number of Malagasy (or Malgache in French) Anglicans in St George's and the ordination rite was printed in both English and Malgache, and the hymns, even the ancient Veni Creator Spiritus, sung in both languages - sometimes in vigorous competition!


Fr Nicolas continues, now as a priest, in his curacy at St George's.


The ordination liturgy is not one that is frequently seen in our churches. People often say to me following the service that there are two moments that particularly strike them. The first is the ordinand lying prostrate before the altar while the Veni Creator Spiritus is sung followed by the chanting of the litany by the Deacon. Prostration is an ancient biblical sign of humility (cf Deuteronomy 8.18) and vividly signifies that the ordinand is completely dependent upon God. All those of us in Holy Orders need to recall daily that our ordination is not about power and status, but is a ministry rooted in humility and servanthood, utterly reliant on God's grace.  The second is when the bishop lays on hands to call down the Holy Spirit on the ordinand for the office and work of a priest, with the other attending priests laying on hands at the same time, thus symbolising the oneness of the priestly ministry they share which comes from Christ our Great High Priest. Both these moments are captured on a video clip taken by a member of the congregation at Fr Nicolas's ordination:

https://www.facebook.com/DecoDesignAmpalis/videos/1400587993358410/


Many of the parishioners lined up after the ordination mass both go greet Fr Nicolas, and to receive his blessing as a new priest.


At the champagne reception following the service a special ecumenical greeting was delivered by Pasteur Jean Andriamarohasina Ravalitera, who is the President of the Malagasy Protestant Church in France.


Friday, 30 June 2017

St Boniface Church Bonn celebrates 175 years


There has been Anglican worship in Bonn, Germany, for 175 years. On Saturday 24 June, this milestone was celebrated by St Boniface Anglican parish in the grand setting of the Schlosskirche in the heart of the city. Ecumenical guests were present from the Roman Catholic Church as well as a representative from our sister Old Catholic Church in Germany. The Deputy Mayor of the City was also present underlying civic recognition for these years of English church presence. An excellent choir, the Bonn English Singers, led the music.


The anniversary service began with a procession of thanksgiving around the Church with stations at the Baptismal Font, the Lectern and the Altar, the places where Christ's presence in his Church in the sacred liturgy is particularly symbolised. The Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, the Venerable Colin Williams, the locum priest Fr Richard Costin, the Assistant Curate Fr Richard Gardiner, and Area Dean-designate Canon John Newsome, were able to concelebrate the Eucharist with me. Fr Newsome had been the parish priest in Bonn at the time of the 150th anniversary!


Although established 175 years ago to serve the English community in the city, St Boniface church is now an international congregation, with members from around the world.

Following the mass, the congregation had a surprise gift for the curate: a beautiful white chasuble, to show their love for him and their deep appreciation for his ministry. Parishioners told me that was the first time they saw Fr Richard rendered speechless!

The Revd Richard Gardiner

Photos courtesy of Jenny Knudsen

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Sharon Grant now licensed as a Reader in Costa Brava

Reader Sharon Grant
On Sunday 18 June, Sharon Grant was licensed as a Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) to serve the Anglican Church in the Costa Brava. The service took place in the ancient, (probably 13th century), Church of St Stephen, in Madremanya, At the festive eucharist, 5 persons were also confirmed, and one received into the communion of the Church of England.

A wonderful lunch rounded off the day at the parish house in Corçà. Somehow, the parishioners found out it was my birthday, too!



The Anglican Church of Costa Brava was formally constituted in 2012 and its first priest, the Revd Anne Jenkins appointed. Sharon now joins the ministry team as a licensed lay minister serving this active parish which meets in 4 different locations in the beautiful part of Catalunya.

The entrance to the parish house patio


The parish puts great emphasis on the welcome offered to everyone. This welcome is summed up in this statement on their website:
"We are a very mixed group of people trying to follow the way of Jesus and respond to his call to love God, ourselves and others by exploring the meaning of God’s love for all people – women and men, young and old, gay or straight. We are from a variety of backgrounds, we are all different ages, we have very varied lifestyles and we delight in our God given diversity. Whoever you are, whether you live here all the time, come from time to time or are here on holiday, you would be welcome to come and join us on a Sunday or for one of our events during the year". 


An excellent video tells the history and vision of this chaplaincy with some moving testimonies of parishioners about why they have made this Church their home:


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Plan for new congregations in NW Germany


Plans continue for new congregations to be planted in Northwest Germany. The project has been spearheaded by the Area Dean of Germany, the Revd Canon Ken Dimmick.

Fr Dimmick reports on a recent meeting to further this development, held at the home of Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, the Venerable Colin Williams:
"Our big dream is for the development of quite a number of smaller worship communities, similar to house churches, ....perhaps focused on lay-led Bible Study.  From time to time we see these house groups gathering with other house groups for a more liturgical worship service, and when  priest is available, for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist."
Fr Ken intends that local worship leaders be trained to lead services of the word, between priestly visits. He appeals to the 10 or so Anglican priests in Germany to assist, perhaps coming once or twice a year to spend a couple of days, visiting and celebrating the Eucharist.

An "executive committee" for the area mission is made up of the Archdeacon, the Area Dean, Mr. John Batty, and Army Chaplain Richard Downes. A good core of the new congregations will be the number of persons attached to the British military community who will be staying on in Germany after the British Forces are fully withdrawn.
"The area is vast and the sheep may be scattered", says Fr Ken, "but we are hoping to develop groups in these towns and cities:  Bremen, Osnabrueck, Muenster, Dortmund, Bielefeld, Hameln, Paderborn, Hannover, Braunschweig/Wolfsburg, Detmold, Guetersloh, Luebbecke, Bergen-Belsen, Goettingen, and Kassel. We do not yet have contact people in each of these towns, but they all seem like possible places for the building up of an English language worship community.  Time and growth will show in the long run where congregations might be viable.  We, at this point, are only scattering the seeds.  May God give the growth."
Fr Ken wrote to the clergy in Germany whom he is inviting to assist in the years to come,
"You may want to think of yourselves as "Methodist Circuit riders" in the wild west, or like the itinerant Celtic missionaries of St. Columba.  May the examples of Boniface, Willibrord, Kilian, and all those who have done similar things in ages past, surround and encourage us."
Fr Ken leaves Germany shortly as he is taking his retirement, He intends to continue active connection to this mission project, however. We join with him and the executive committee in praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance, strength and direction.

Fr Ken Dimmick in his own parish of St Catherine's Stuttgart

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Holy Trinity Madeira launches bicentennial appeal

Canon Blair addressed the Madeira supporters
Lord Patrick Cormack hosted a dinner on Thursday 8 June in the House of Lords, to launch the bicentenary appeal and programme for Holy Trinity Church Madeira. The Church n this Portuguese Island off the coast of Morocco was first opened for worship in 1822. The appeal is for €200,000 for necessary repairs and refurbishment to secure the life of the Church into its third century!

Although the electoral roll in Holy Trinity is quite modest, the Church is almost always full due to the many visitors to the island, as well as the "swallows". The building is also used virtually every day of the week as a venue for concerts.

The Revd Canon John Blair is the present chaplain. At the dinner he shared with the guests something of the life of this extraordinary and vibrant parish.


It felt odd gathering in the House of Lords on election night in the UK. But the 70 or so who gathered for the dinner were not distracted by the politics outside, but were united in our commitment to Holy Trinity, Madeira! The bicentennial events continue up until the anniversary in 2022.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

English-looking Church but a family from around the world at St Alban's Copenhagen.


Passers-by and tourists on the way to visit the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, are often surprised when they come across what looks like a traditional English parish church, St Alban's. Although designed in the English Gothic Revival style by the great architect Sir Arthur Blomfield, visitors and tourists will, on closer inspection, see that this beautiful building is much more than an English Church, but the home to a wonderfully diverse and international Christian community. 225 persons are on the electoral roll, and they hail from more than 30 different countries around the world.

St Alban's ministry to tourists is impressive. About 50 volunteers who welcome huge numbers of visitors each day from spring to autumn, with guide-notes to the Church available in over a dozen languages. Literally thousands of persons each year, who might not otherwise enter a Church building, are given a warm and friendly word from one of the volunteers, and invited to enjoy a moment of peace in the tranquil beauty of the building.


On Trinity Sunday confirmations were celebrated, with the Church filled to capacity. The candidates each came from different backgrounds: Danish, Dutch, Ugandan, Californian, Australian, Nigerian and British (via several places in the Middle East!). Trinity Sunday was an excellent feast to celebrate our baptism into the Threefold Name. The candidates reminded themselves of their own baptism by signing themselves with the sign of the cross at the font, acknowledging that even with their diverse backgrounds, they are one in Christ.


The Christian life is lived not primarily in the church, but in the world, loving our neighbour, and seeking peace and justice. The newly confirmed carried candles through the Church out into the world to symbolise their commitment to building the Kingdom of God in Copenhagen and beyond.  


Following the Eucharist, the Church Council chaired by Chaplain, the Revd Darrin McCallilg, met with me to explore together some general features of parish life. We had a lively discussion about where the many Church activities were thought to be "adding value" to the kingdom of God, and where there was yet some untapped, latent resources to call upon from among the members to further extend St Alban's ministry and mission. Already St Alban's has the largest average Sunday attendance of any Church in the Danish capital.

We had just heard the news of Bishop Geoffrey's death that morning, and we said prayers for the repose of his soul at the meeting.




All photos are courtesy of Mia Enns

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Bishop Geoffrey Rowell RIP

Our dear Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, third Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, died peacefully this morning. He had been struggling bravely with cancer, a struggle he kept very quiet as he did not want people to be alarmed or to make a fuss. We mourn the passing of a great and wise teacher of the Catholic faith, an extraordinary ecumenist, a warm pastor, one of the world's best networkers, and a beloved friend. May he rest in peace.

 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Archbishop Ntatohuri will move from being a Governor of the Anglican Centre in Rome to the Director in October


The Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome on which I serve recently had a meeting in Chicago, hosted by the Episcopal Bishop of Chicago, the Rt Revd Jeff Lee. It was the last meeting of the Board during the time of the current Director, the Most Revd Sir David Moxon, who will be stepping down at the end of June after almost 5 years in post. It was a chance for US friends and supporters of the Centre to express their gratitude to Archbishop David for his outstanding achievements in Anglican-RC relations during his time as Director.

(Incidentally, the Diocese in Europe Board of Finance makes a small annual grant to the Anglican Centre. Canon Ann Turner is our Diocesan Representative).

Evensong at St James's Cathedral, Chicago

Christ Church Winnetka Illinois
I had the privilege of preaching and presiding at one of the many flourishing parishes in the Diocese of Chicago, Christ Church, Winnetka, Illinois. There are over 50 in the choir at Christ Church, and 110 young people involved in activities during each week.

Archbishop Ntahoturi with Anglican Centre Governor Bp Cate Waynick
Archbishop David's successor as Director, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, who takes over in September, was present at the meeting, as he is currently a Governor. Archbishop Bernard has extensive ecumenical experience, having served as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches since 1998, and co-moderator of the Permanent Committee on Collaboration and Consensus which brings together representatives of the Orthodox, Anglicans and Reformed Churches. He has also served on the Executive Committee of ACT (Action of Churches Together) International and participated in the creation of the new ACT Alliance which is the ecumenical branch of the WCC for Relief and Development. He has been active in seeking peace in war-torn native Burundi, where he is vice chair of the Burundi Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also chairs the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO). Archbishop Bernard speaks French, English, Kirundi and Swahili and is looking forward to learning Italian! I have had the privilege of many years of friendship with Archbishop Bernard, having worked with him when I staffed the Primates' Meetings of the Communion.

Archbishop Bernard will be formally installed as the Director of the Anglican Centre in October, but he was recently informally introduced to the Pope by Archbishop Sir David Moxon.

Archbishop Moxon introduces Archbishop Ntahoturi to His Holiness