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.

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Baptisms, Confirmations, Receptions and a new Reader in the Church of the Resurrection, Istanbul

Mesih dirildi! Christ is Risen!
On Easter Day the traditional greeting was on the lips of members of the Church of the Resurrection, the Turkish-speaking congregation in Istanbul. Members gathered in the morning for an Easter breakfast together. Then in the early afternoon the service began, a two-hour celebration of the Easter sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

It was a joyful and moving occasion for two adults who were baptised and confirmed, and then joined by 5 other candidates for confirmation. Two persons were also received into communion of the Church of England. The baptismal candidates had expressed a desire to be baptised by immersion. This is one of the two ways permitted by the Church of England, the other being pouring. The congregation borrows the Armenian Protestant Church building for their services and the building does not have a font for immersion baptism, but an inflatable pool served the purpose!

As each candidate emerged from the waters, the congregation who had gathered around the "font" clapped and cheered to welcome the new Christians. It is a big step to take in Turkey and requires much preparation and catechesis. Candidates for confirmation and reception also dipped their hand into the baptismal water and signed themselves with a cross to remind them of their own baptism. I was then able to sprinkle the entire gathering with water so that they could also be reminded of the new life they enjoy with the Risen Lord.

At the start of the service I licensed Rosamund Wilkinson as a Reader, to serve in the Church of the Resurrection under the direction of its priest-in-charge, the Revd Engin Yildirim. Rosamund was previously licensed in the diocese of Bradford. She is a fluent Turkish speaker having taught in Istanbul for many years. She has returned to the city and is a valued additional lay preacher and teacher for the congregation.

Istanbul is the largest city in the Diocese in Europe and although Turkish Christians are a small minority in the country, the Church of the Resurrection is growing steadily. There are also a number of people who attend, who are not themselves from Turkey, but who wish to worship in Turkish. A small task group is engaged in translating the most frequently used services from Common Worship for which we eventually hope to obtain approval from the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Chrism masses held in the Hague and in Rome

The Chrism Eucharist was celebrated on Tuesday in Holy Week in two centres in the Diocese: Rome and the Hague. At these services, the clergy and readers of the area gather with the bishop (in All Saints Rome it was with Honorary Assistant Bishop Michael Colclough) for one of the most solemn and significant liturgies of our Church.

Representatives of the laity present the three oils to be blessed
I was able to preside at the service in the Church of St John and St Philip in the Hague. During the service, the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and the oil of chrism are blessed. We use the first to anoint those who are seeking to become part of the Church through baptism. The second is for anointing those who are sick and the third is used after baptism, in confirmation and in the ordination of priests, to signify the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the faithful at these times. .

The Chrism Eucharist is also the time when those in ministry, deacons, priests and bishops, renew their vows of service. Readers, the licensed lay ministers of the Church, have joined in this solemn act in more recent times. All receive the prayers and support of the people for their particular ministry. The people of St John's and St Philip's hosted a lunch for the clergy and readers who came from all over the Netherlands and Belgium for the Eucharist.

I was particularly pleased to see a good gathering of Readers, who are known by their distinctive blue preaching scarves. Priests, deacons and Readers alike value these precious times to meet together, to be reminded of their unity in the task of serving Christ's people, and to build bonds of friendship and support which help to sustain their ministry.

The consecrated oils are taken by the clergy and readers back to their home churches for use in the sacred rites of the Church over the next year. For those who were unable to attend one of the services, the oils can be obtained from the diocesan office. Please contact Mrs Bron Panter.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Ken Dimmick Area Dean of Germany, William Lister Area Dean of Italy and Malta

Area Deans Ken Dimmick and William Lister receive their official commission
On Tuesday 8 April, two new Area Deans were commissioned during the meetings of the Bishop's Senior Staff. The Revd Ken Dimmick became the Area Dean for Germany and the Revd William Lister became the Area Dean for Italy and Malta.

The principle task of Area Deans in this diocese is to work with the Archdeacon and Lead Bishop in giving pastoral support to clergy and congregations. In our vast diocese this is one of the ways that we are working to enhance the level of pastoral care and support. Some specific duties include assisting congregations at the time of a vacancy, to work with them in discerning the future shape of their ministry and the sort of priest they require. Area Deans also conduct Ministerial Development Reviews of clergy, along with the Archdeacons and Bishops.

I am very grateful to the Area Deans, often serving in busy parishes themselves, who give of themselves and their ministry in this additional way, to support the wider mission of the Church in this diocese.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Revd John Barker ordained priest to serve Anglicans in Armenia

On Sunday 30 March, in the presence of brothers and sisters from the Diocese in Europe and the Old Catholic Diocese of Austria, I presided at the ordination to the priesthood of the Revd John Barker.

The service was in Christ Church Vienna, where Fr John is technically an assistant curate serving under the supervision of Archdeacon Patrick Curran. But his real ministry is in Armenia where he lives and where he has a particular responsibility to develop the Anglican congregation in the capital city, Yerevan. The preacher for the service was the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, the Revd Canon William Gulliford.

Fr John is a pioneer in ministerial terms. Several years ago, as a Reader, he worked to establish a congregation in Skopje in the FYR of Macedonia. Now in Yerevan under Fr John's leadership, Anglican life is beginning to flower again, after a hiatus of more than 10 years.

Fr John with his wife Ella and daughter Laura

The Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, has graciously given us the use of the beautiful Church of St Zoravor in central Yerevan. We give thanks for the warm relations we enjoy with the Armenian Apostolic Church.

We pray for John's pioneering work in Armenia, for the strengthening of Anglican ministry there and for the congregation as it celebrates its first Holy Week and Easter with its new priest.

St Zoravor's Church, Yerevan

Friday, 11 April 2014

Report from the National Readers' Conference: a view from the Diocese in Europe

Readers from the Diocese in Europe with Bishop Robert Patterson
Jan Waterschoot, a Reader in Eindhoven, Netherlands, was one of five Readers who attended a recent "national" gathering for Readers held from 4 - 6 April. Jan has written the report below:

About a hundred and fifty Readers met in the first weekend of April in Milton Keynes for the bi-annual Reader's Conference, including the Annual General Meeting of the Central Readers' Council (CRC). At the Annual Meeting our Diocese was represented by Angela Mirani (Italy) who also is a member of the Executive of the CRC, and Jan Waterschoot (Netherlands). For the rest of the Conference they were joined by Linda Brooke (France), Brenda Juntunen (France) and Linda Cade (Majorca).

Calling this meeting a 'national' Readers Conference was about the only time during the weekend that it could have looked as if Readers from outside England were not part of it all. Time and time again it was made clear that Wales, the Isle of Man and of course the 44th Diocese were very much part of everything! With five delegates (more than many other Dioceses had sent!) the Diocese in Europe was very well represented at this Conference.

The Conference had two key speakers. The first one was the chairman of the CRC: the Right Reverend Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Man. He spoke on Readers as 'Servants of the Word'. He explained how many other lay ministries are developing alongside Reader ministry. Several dioceses find due to this development that the title 'Reader' is out of date and should be replaced by for example 'licensed lay minister'. The Bishop also spoke about the need for adequate theological training for Readers and a national standard for this training. Another subject he touched upon was: What is a Reader really? A person running around from church to church to keep them open and take more and more services while the numbers of priests are going down? Or rather lay-theologians who can teach and preach the Word, not even necessarily in churches but everywhere, in public, in work places. Why should there be a sharp line between lay and ordained ministry. Should they not both be integrated in the total ministry of the Church?

The second key speaker was The Reverend Father Nicholas King SJ. He opened up some Bible pieces in his own special way reading to his audience in English from a Greek Bible. Father Nicholas has written a highly acclaimed translation of the Bible about which Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: "The translation hits you between the eyes". Father Nick explained to the Readers the Biblical Roots of Christian Unity, especially from Acts. But he also showed where to find the moments of disunity in Acts already (certainly when money is around!) and in other parts of the Church like in Corinth. He journeyed through the text to show where social, cultural and racial tensions were around and how to overcome them by love, by living as sisters and brothers. In his last address he went through the Gospel of St John, going deeper into the mystery, showing that the Message of God is a Message of Love. God loves this world so much that he gave his only Son to die for our sins. What else can we do than follow his example and love God and one another. And in moments of doubt or disunity: keep our eyes on Jesus, look to the Father and listen to the Paraclete; love one another.

It was a good meeting! Wonderful worship, lots of friendship and fellowship. Readers sharing among one another about their ministry and charging their batteries again to keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Warm ecumenical relations, growth in faith, expansion of team in Costa Blanca

The Revd Steven Foster
The Parish of Holy Spirit Costa Blanca, is probably the largest of our Church of England parishes in Europe, with 7 congregations, and a large electoral roll. The Revd Canon Peter Edwards is the Senior Chaplain. He is assisted by the Revd Marcus Ronchetti and on 2 February I was able to license the third priest for the team, the Revd Steven Foster, as Team Vicar.

Fr Steven is accompanied by his wife Ruth. He previously served in the Diocese of York. He is an enthusiastic musician as well as an experienced priest.

At Fr Steven's service of licensing, one of the local Franciscan brothers was in attendance. The parish supports the Franciscans who run a home for homeless men. Fr Steven is pictured above with his Franciscan colleague. The Parish Reader, Stephen Carden is between them.

The ecumenical relations are very warm indeed in Costa Blanca. Fr Juan Carlos, the RC priest of one of the Churches we borrow recently described Fr Marcus, who takes the Anglican services there regularly, as "the second priest in the parish".

My parish visit included a celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Archdeacon Peter Potter also to be Acting Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe

Archdeacon Peter Potter
With the resignation of the Venerable Jonathan LLoyd, as Archdeacon of Germany & Northern Europe, I have asked the Venerable Peter Potter, the Archdeacon of Switzerland, to be the Acting Archdeacon as well for Germany and Northern Europe. I am grateful to Fr Peter for agreeing to these extra duties, taking on a large additional area which covers 9 countries from Iceland to Estonia. He is also the Chaplain of St Ursula's in Bern. This is an interim measure. The next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe will need to make a more permanent arrangement.

Canon Jonathan LLoyd, now the incumbent of The Bridge and LIttlebourne Benefices in the Diocese of Canterbury, has accepted my invitation to be Canon Emeritus of the Cathedral Chapter of the Diocese in Europe, so we can keep our contacts alive. He is greatly missed from our Senior Staff team.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

125th Anniversary of Consecration of St George's, Lisbon

Church of England services in Lisbon can be traced back to 1654 when Oliver Cromwell and the representative of Portuguese King John IV signed a treaty giving English residents in Portugal freedom to profess their religion privately. The first resident Anglican priest was appointed in 1658, the Revd Zachary Craddock. He was young, only 23 years old! 

Recently I celebrated the 125th anniversary of the consecration of the second St George's Church building (the first was destroyed by fire in 1886). The present building (photo of the west front above) was consecrated on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1889. 

The present priest, the Revd Nigel Stimpson, is not quite as young in years as his very first predecessor, although he is very young in outlook and vision! And the congregation is now serving not only English residents, but Anglicans and other English speakers from around the world. This was celebrated during the anniversary service with the confirmation of two candidates, both of Nigerian background. As in the early days of the congregation in Lisbon, diplomats were present, but this time led by Her Excellency Ambassador Bristol, of the Republic of Nigeria! (The Ambassador is on the left, below).

Reader in Training Joao Soares, Fr Nigel Stimpson and Assistant Priest 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Anglicans and Roman Catholics together on major faith initiative to combat human trafficking

For the first time in their history, people drawn from the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have joined forces to combat modern slavery and human-trafficking. Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have personally given their backing to the newly-formed Global Freedom Network.

The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29 million people was co-signed today, March 17th by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt, Dr Mahmoud Azab and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the large international philanthropic anti-slavery organisation from Perth, Western Australia “Walk Free”.  The network has the resources it needs to carry out a five year plan.

Archbishop Moxon has been closely involved in the negotiations which have brought about this landmark in church cooperation. He says –
“Human slavery is a plague on a vast scale in many countries across the world today. This situation is not improving but is probably deteriorating. To quote Pope Francis, ‘We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic values of society.’ Today representatives from our Churches have made an agreement to act together: one Church, one world – God’s world – where everyone can walk free.”
Archbishop Moxon said that the Anglican Centre in Rome would support this new network in every way and would integrate its own time and energy into the cause as an example of practical mission-based ecumenism, where Anglicans and Roman Catholics working in good faith together with many others, will coordinate their efforts to challenge one of the world’s worst evils and greatest forms of suffering.

The Global Freedom Network has some of its earliest roots in the deep concerns about modern slavery shared when Archbishop Justin Welby visited Pope Francis in June 2013, followed by a conference held at the Vatican in early November on the initiative of Pope Francis, the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science (PASS). The Network already has a Muslim representative partner on its Council and will seek to include other faiths over time, as there needs to be a multi-faith approach  to this multi-national tragedy.

It is estimated that between 12 and 27 million people worldwide are enslaved into forced labour and sexual exploitation. Each year, about 2 million people are victims of sexual trafficking, 60% of whom are girls. Human organ trafficking is rife: annually around 20,000 people are forced or deceived into giving up an organ (liver, kidney, pancreas, cornea, lung, even the heart).

For the full joint statement, click read more

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Please continue to pray for the Ukraine

This is a key weekend in Ukraine, with the controversial referendum in Crimea. I urge the faithful of the Diocese in Europe to continue to pray for the country and her peoples. On behalf of the diocesan family I sent the following message to the congregation of Christ Church Kiev today.

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Congregation of Christ Church, Kiev
I want to assure you of the continuing prayers of the people of the Diocese in Europe for the return to peace and stability in the Ukraine. We pray for all who are making efforts to bring a resolution to the divisions, through diplomatic means and dialogue, so that there can be an end to violence and threat.  We pray for all Church leaders who are making calls for peace and the building of a new spirit of  peace and harmony in the country. 
This weekend is going to be a significant one with the referendum in Crimea. We pray that the outcome will honour the democratic desires of the people of the region, and show the path towards reconciliation, away from confrontation, dangerous polarisation and division, and that the rights of all may be respected, whatever the outcome.  
In these tense, uncertain and difficult times, and we send you our fraternal love, and pray that God will strengthen your spirits and give you hope. 
In Christ Jesus

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Lenten prayer, in communion with all Christians

As we begin the journey of Lent towards the cross of Jesus, I share some images from a Turkish-language Taizé service recently held in the Church of the Resurrection, Istanbul. Young and old, gathered to pray at the foot of the cross, to hear the Word of God, and to join their voices in the gentle and ancient songs of Taizé.

The Revd Engin Yildirim, the priest-in-charge, has worked with a team to develop this ecumenical prayer service, bringing together Anglicans and many others from all the Christian traditions in Istanbul, to share what was described as "a very sweet spirit of prayer amongst people". Another comment about the service was that it fulfilled a dream shared for a long time "to help Christians to pray in communion".

May our Lenten journey as the people of this diocese be communion with Christians everywhere, knowing that God is leading us together as His people.
Living God, you bury our past in the heart of Christ and are going to take care of our future. (A prayer from Taizé) 

Monday, 24 February 2014

All Saints, Tenerife: a place of joyful faith

The grounds of All Saints with Mt Teide in the background

All Saints Tenerife is a parish that has a splendid location under the snow-covered Mt Teide, and with a fascinating history. When founded at the end of the 19th century it was in the Diocese of Sierra Leone. It then was for a time in what was callled the "Diocese of North Africa". Now, it is a vital part of the Church of England's Diocese in Europe.

The parishioners are full time residents on the island or part-time "swallows", many of them, if not most. now retired. But it is hardly a sleepy place! The church has a vibrant ministry of hospitality and outreach to many English-speakers on the island, mostly from the UK, but also from the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and even Russia, with a handful of Spanish-born members as well. The parish collaborate closely with the Red Cross on the island, in assisting with a breakfast programme for some dozens of youngsters in local schools, whose families have been hit by the economic downturn in Spain.

The hosplitality of the parish is warm and inclusive. Some come on Sundays for the fellowship around the bar which the Church operates, and even if they do not come to the service, they are aware of this caring Christian community where pastoral issues can be raised, if required, and where priest and parishioners are committed to helpting their neighbours.

On Sunday 2 members were baptised and confirmed and joined by another 3 for the rite of confirmation itself. It is moving to preside at services where the commitment of the candidates is so evident, and the support of the parishioners so joyful.

At the parish sit-down lunch for 80 people, following the service, Fr Mike Smith, the Chaplain, gave a present to the confirmands from the parish, a little book by Anglican priest Dave Tomlinson, entitled, "How to be a bad Christian and a better human being". Despite the provocative title, it is a wonderful introduction to living the Christian life with all its challenges and uncertainties, recognising we are fallible human beings, and that the work of being a Christian is not confined to life inside the walls of the Church! Perfect for those who have been given the light of Christ to bear into the world.