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.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Signs of growth and much joy in Costa Almería and Costa Cálida

It is quite often in our parish of Costa Almería and Costa Cálida, that attendance at the Sunday Eucharist in San Pascual Church near the town of Mojácar has to spill out onto the patio outside the Church. (Thankfully in this part of Spain, weather is usually reliable). On the Sunday after Ascension, during my parish visit, this was also the case.

Two members of the congregation were confirmed in a joyful service. The singing is particularly splendid and enthusiastic in the parish, no doubt due to the fact that the priest, the Revd Pauline Williams is from Wales! The hospitality after the service is also quite splendid.

Pauline is assisted by Honorary Asst Priest Canon Alan Bennett, Reader Duncan Burr, Church Army Captain Edwin Bates, and some Congregational Worship Leaders. It is a growing parish which presently has 4 worship centres. Additional vocations to Reader ministry are being discerned. At some point, it is clear that an extra priest may be needed as well.

During my visit I was also able to induct the newly elected Churchwardens and raise a glass of Cava to toast our confirmands.

Churchwardens Ann Marshall and Pam Carter
The parish website is here.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Ever heard of San Indalecio?

The Revd Pauline Williams with Bishop Adolfo to her left
San Indalecio is not a saint that is widely known in Anglican circles. However, for our Anglican Parish of Costa Almería and Costa Cálida he holds some significance. According to ancient tradition, in the first century Indaletius (as his Latin name goes) was sent along with 6 other missionaries by Saints Peter and Paul to evangelise Spain. Indalecio evangelised the region near present day Almería and his remains lie beneath the high altar of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in that city. He is the patron of the region, and his feast is 15 May.

On my recent visit to our Anglican parish, I took the priest-in-charge, the Revd Pauline Williams to meet the successor of San Indalecio, the present bishop of Almería, Don Adolfo Adolfo González Montes. Bishop Adolfo received us very warmly and presented Pauline with a gift. Our four Anglican congregations in the pastoral area use Bishop Adolfo's churches and we are very grateful for his generous ecumenical hospitality.

Together we shared some conversation about the pastoral challenges facing us as we seek to reach the large English-speaking population in the area. Bishop Adolfo takes a keen interest in the life of Anglicans resident in his diocese and made some recommendations as to places where some new work might be considered.

We toured the newly restored chapel of his Diocesan Seminary after the meeting.

Friday, 15 May 2015

May Day in Costa Blanca

This year, May Day in the parish of the Holy Spirit, Costa Blanca, was a very special occasion. One of the Churchwardens, Mr Andrew Johnson reported on the day:

Two priests were licensed at a special service which took place in the Ermita de San Josep, La Fustera. The beautiful chapel was packed to overflowing. The service was led by the Archdeacon of Gibraltar, the Venerable Geoff Johnston, in the presence of over 150 members of the parish an several local clergy, including 3 Roman Catholic priests as well as Evangelical and Baptist minisers.

Fr Marcus, Archdeacon Geoff, Fr Ray
The Revd Marcus Ronchetti was installed as the new Senior Chaplain, in succession to the Revd Canon Peter Edwards who retired recently after twelve years of service to the community. Fr Marcus now has the overall responsibility for a parish which includes churches in Gandia, Denia, Javea, La Fustera, Calpe, Albir and El Campello - a parish of over 7500 square kilometres.

The Revd Ray Andrews was also licensed as a Chaplain (team vicar) in the parish, with particular responsibility for the churches of Albir and El Campello.

A Fiesta was also held that day, with stalls offering treats typical of Spain, England, Wales, Scotland and the USA, as well as a silent auction, book and card stalls, white elephant, a huge raffle and a cake stall offering more buns than even Billy Bunter could scoff! There was even dancing around a Maypole.

As a result of the generosity of the visitors, over two thousand euros were raised for Chaplaincy funds and the Diocesan Ordination Candidates' fund and for local charities. (As with other churches in the Diocese the Chaplaincy must be entirely self-sufficient).

If you would like more information about the activities and services of the Church of England in this part of Spain, visit the parish website.  

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Exploration of new work in North Rhine-Westphalia

On 5 May, the Area Dean of Germany, the Revd Ken Dimmick, convened a meeting to explore future Anglican ministry in the area of North Rhine-Westphalia. At present Anglicans and English-speaking Christians are able to worship in the chapels of the British Forces in Germany, which continue to provide services, primarily for the military, of course, in places such as Paderborn, Gütersloh, Bielefeld and Herford. However as permanent British Forces deployment in Germany is due to end in 2019 such services will no longer be offered by military chaplains. This will leave potentially a large number of English-speakers, some retired soldiers, some civilians, who will have no English-language ministry available to them. The meeting was to explore how services and ministry might continue to be offered, but under the auspices of the Diocese in Europe.

Several lay persons, and two priests, the Revd Alja Tolefssen from across the border in Twente, Netherlands, and the Revd Richard Downes, the Warden (Padre) at Church House Lübbeke joined with Fr Ken and myself for these exploratory talks. (Church House Lübbeke is a training and retreat establishment run by the British Forces). An extensive mapping exercise was undertaken, and a full discussion was had about what ministry resources might be available, for example from retired clergy, nearby Churches of the Diocese, and Old Catholic Church personnel. This is a part of Germany with no present congregations of the Diocese. Historically there were such congregations in the region but they closed at the outbreak of WWI. At one point there were over 60 Church of England congregations in Germany!

It was clear that the English-speaking community desires continuity of Church life once the military network leaves. The lay persons present spoke of the dimensions to Church life that they presently value and which they hope will continue through the Diocese in Europe: worship, community, fellowship, welfare and support, compassion, outreach and  friendship.

The Area Dean will be carrying forward this exploration. Consultation will also be held with our partner Old Catholic Church in Germany.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Some statistics about our ordinands

The Revd Canon William Gulliford, Director of Ordinands
The Director of Ordinands, the Revd Canon William Gulliford, recently sent me a statistical report on candidates who have been successfully selected for training since 2006. The statistics are very significant, and give a snapshot of the rich gifts which this diocese is bringing into the Church of England through our vocations programme. I cite some of the figures below. (Of course, these figures do not include those who begin the process of discernment, but who are not forwarded to selection).

Since 2006:
40 men
20 women
41 over the age of 32
19 under the age of 32
32 candidates for stipendiary ministry most of whom have been exported to other Church of England dioceses
7 distinctive deacons
9 minority ethnic candidates
Apart from UK citizens, the following passport holders were successfully selected for training:
7 American
6 Dutch
5 French
3 Nigerian
1 Turkish
1 Austrian
1 Congolese
1 Sudanese
1 Turkish
In addition to those who are testing their vocation to Holy Orders Fr William is also responsible for directing the path of those ordained in other Churches not in communion with the Church of England who seek to explore ministry in this Church.

Such ministers eventually are sent to a Candidates Panel of the National Church's Ministry Division which recommends what additional training or formation is required as they take up ministry in the Church of England. If not already in priest's orders, such candidates must, of course, be ordained. If they are already in priest's orders they are received by a bishop into the Church of England. I traditionally give such priests a presentation copy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on that occasion, to mark their formal transfer as priests into this Church.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Where does our Diocesan Prayer Diary come from?

The Prayer Diary is probably the most widely used publication we produce in this Diocese. In my view it is also one of the most comprehensive such guides to daily intercession produced in the Church of England. The Diary brings together in one place for each day of the year an intention related to our diocese, most commonly one of our chaplaincies or parishes with the names of the clergy and readers, or another diocesan focus such as meetings happening that day. In addition the Anglican Communion's own daily prayer focus is listed, and well as each week, the particular focus of the Porvoo Communion of Churches.

The compiling of such a comprehensive guide to our intercessory prayer is the work of the Revd Canon Barbara Moss (photo above), a member of our Diocesan Communications Committee, besides being the Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew's Gothenburg and Area Dean of the Nordic and Baltic states.

Barbara recently gave a presentation to our Senior Staff of the method she uses to compile the resource, which requires collecting data from the diocese, the Communion and the Porvoo Churches, and a certain vigilance to keep the intentions up to date. Sometime in the next year, she intends to hand over this responsibility to a new person, and the computer programme she uses is in excellent shape and ready for the handover in due course.

The Staff and the people of this diocese are grateful to Canon Moss for this detailed and careful work to produce such a useful resource for our daily intercessions.

(The most up-to-date version of the diary is that on the Diocesan Website).

Monday, 11 May 2015

St Peter's and St Sigfrid's Stockholm to celebrate an African Pentecost!

St Peter's and St Sigfrid's Anglican Church in Stockholm is sometimes known as "the English Church", but is hardly that in terms of its membership.  Like Stockholm itself, it is a very international community. On a recent parish visit, I had conversations with parishioners from Nigeria, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, India, Jamaica, Sweden, France and the UK. The Churchwardens come from Dallas, Texas and Chennai, India!

The international outlook of the congregation was also reflected in their generosity in holding a "retiring collection" to raise funds for victims of the earthquake in Nepal.

Churchwardens count the special retiring collection for Nepal
The Church has a solid musical tradition with an enthusiastic and talented choir. The liturgy combines the best of Anglicanism, from the dignity of the Sunday eucharist supported by a knowledgeable team of servers and acolytes, to Messy Church. The chaplain, the Revd Nick Howe, also promotes "deep Church" through providing times for quiet and contemplative prayer, the latter having been a particular focus during Lent.

Members of the choir in rehearsal
On Whitsunday 24 May, the parish will celebrate an African Pentecost, with a joyful worship service to be followed by a feast of African food!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

St Andrew's Gothenburg - a lively example of the Porvoo Communion in action

St Andrew's Gothenburg lives a life fully part of our Church of England Diocese in Europe as well as playing an active role in the life of the Church of Sweden Diocese of Gothenburg. The priest-in-charge, the Revd Canon Barbara Moss, is also part of the university chaplaincy team of Gothenburg diocese, there being a large number of students at the universities in the city whose international language is English. During my recent visit, the Bishop of Gothenburg, the Rt Revd Per Eckerdal, noted what a good working relationship we have, thanks to the Porvoo Agreement, and Canon Moss's own commitment to the partnership between our Churches. Barbara is also the Area Dean of the Nordic and Baltic States.

The church also likes to take part in the round of annual cultural events in the city, such as the international book festival and the science festival. St Andrew's is also used one night a week to host a drop-in centre for prostitutes in the city.

St Andrew's itself, like so many of our parishes, has a very multicultural membership, and on a recent parish visit I enjoyed many conversations with people from Sweden, the Caribbean, many parts of Africa, the Netherlands and the UK.

 Photos courtesy of Björn Carlqvist

Friday, 1 May 2015

Our longest serving priest in Spain retires

Last Easter Day a major changes came about in the largest of parishes (in terms of numbers on electoral roll) in the Diocese in Europe: the Revd Canon Peter Edwards retired from the post of Senior Chaplain of the Costa Blanca Anglican Chaplaincy of the Holy Spirit. 

Fr Peter was the longest serving Church of England priest in the Iberian peninsula. For the past 12 years he has served Holy Spirit parish, first as an associate priest then as Senior Chaplain, collaborating with and then leading a team of priests and readers who serve the 7 congregations in the pastoral area, from Valencia to Alicante. It has been a fruitful ministry, with regular confirmations, many weddings and funerals (which are key evangelistic as well as pastoral opportunities) and celebrations and activities which support the English-speaking community in this part of Spain. As our Church uses Roman Catholic buildings, Fr Peter has had a key role in nurturing and strengthening our partnership and friendships with the Roman Catholic clergy. It has been a very busy 12 years!

Fr Peter is seen below, looking very relaxed, receiving a gift to mark his retirement from his former colleague Fr Marcus and Churchwardens, Andrew Johnson and Stephen Carden.

Fr Peter's successor, the Revd Marcus Ronchetti (who is being licensed today!), in his address to the AGM of the parish said " I believe we are in a good place, and we have a great team", and is ready to build on the solid work of Fr Peter and carry forward the life and mission of the parish. Fr Marcus is assisted by the Revd Steve Foster and the Revd Ray Andrew, licensed Lay Minister (Reader) Stephen Carden and several clergy with permission to officiate.

Fr Marcus Ronchetti centre, with Fr Steve Foster (his right) and Fr Ray Andrew (his left) and the Chaplaincy Council 

Friday, 24 April 2015

RIP: The Revd Canon Geoffrey Evans MA OBE

Today in the Parish Church of Chalfont St Peter, surrounded by his family, friends and former parishioners, we bade farewell to Fr Geoffrey Evans, one of the longest serving priests of this diocese in Europe. Bishop Geoffrey Rowell presided at the requiem eucharist and Archdeacon of Morgannwg Christopher Smith preached and and brought many memories of Fr Geoffrey, some very amusing indeed, as well as reminding us of the Church in Wales heritage which so shaped his priestly ministry.

Fr Geoffrey was born in 1934 and died on Easter Eve, 4 April 2015. The preacher noted how fitting it was that he died on Easter Eve, that great time when the Church gathers in darkness to then encounter the brightness of the Resurrection: Fr Geoffrey's entire ministry centred on bringing joy and light to those around him.

Fr Geoffrey was ordained when I was but one year old! Nevertheless, we got on famously. In fact it was hard not to get on with him. I enjoyed my many visits with him in Turkey when we would remember adventures, in different decades mind you, in Guyana where he was a missionary and where I journeyed frequently as the Latin America and Caribbean Mission Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada. There were also memorable visits to the Syrian Orthodox monasteries of Tur Abdin with Fr Geoffrey who was such a faithful friend to the beleaguered Syrian Orthodox community.

A younger (and bearded) Fr Geoffrey presiding at the eucharist in Ephesus

His first appointment in this diocese was in 1973 as chaplain in Izmir and Bornova. He also served in Rome, Moscow, Istanbul and Ankara. He was the last person to hold the glorious title of Archdeacon of the Aegean and the Danube!

This diocese and the Church is richer for his ministry. We thank God for this gift of a faithful servant.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with the saints: where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

With young Syrian Orthodox friends in Tur Abdin

Thursday, 23 April 2015

French Archdeaconry Synod is not afraid to engage in dialogue on controversial issues!

The Archdeaconry of France is quite possibly the largest in the diocese with over 65 regular congregations in France and Monaco served by about 30 priests and an equal number of Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers). From 15 to 18 April the clergy and lay representatives gathered for their annual Synod at St Jacut de la Mer in Brittany, under the presidency of Archdeacon Ian Naylor. The Archdeacon (front row 3rd from left) with some of his clergy can be seen in the above photo.

Dr Taylor and Dr Methuen
The synod invited the Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen to give two papers on "The History and Theology of Marriage". Dr Methuen was a priest of this diocese, first in Bonn/Cologne, then as Director of Training. She now teaches at the Faculty of Divinity in Glasgow University. Bible studies were led by the Revd Canon Dr Simon Taylor, the Canon Chancellor of Derby Cathedral and the Ministerial Development Officer of Derby Diocese. The theme of his Bible Studies was "Sex and Marriage". I commend the members of the French Archdeaconry for engaging with two scholars on one of the most discussed (and often divisive) issues in today's Church.

Not surprisingly, with a large number of congregations and clergy, the French Archdeaconry faces a steady turnover. So an important session at the synod was given over to the procedures and norms for recruitment and appointment of clergy. It was led by the Archdeacon and my Chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, who work closely with me and the Appointments Secretary, Catherine Jackson, and the Area Deans and Parish Representatives at the time of a vacancy in a congregation of the Archdeaconry. 
Archdeacon Naylor, Deacon Hiller
Photos courtesy of the Very Revd Walter Raymond, St Paul's Monaco

Monday, 20 April 2015

Churches unite in call for action to prevent further tragedy on the Mediterranean

Once again our Mediterranean Sea has become a grave for hundreds of migrants who drowned as they desperately sought a better life in Europe. We continue to pray:
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace to remember the plight of migrants, for they are all children of God. Strengthen all efforts to protect and keep safe those who flee poverty, violence, war and persecution. Hold those who have drowned in your loving heart and comfort their families. May our leaders work together to build a world of peace with justice and prosperity, so no one need risk their lives on the seas to seek a better life. Amen.
Below is a press release issued today, 20th April, by the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) following this latest tragedy.
Churches mourn loss of life on Mediterranean, call for preventative action

Together the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), the Conference of European Churches, and the World Council of Churches grieve the drowning of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. As many as 700 people are feared dead following the capsizing of their vessel just outside Libyan waters.  Rescue efforts are underway and so far 28 survivors have been found.

We remember in prayer those who have died and express our deepest sympathies to their families. “We deplore this loss of life,” remarked CEC General Secretary Revd Dr Guy Liagre, “and are deeply saddened by this tragedy on Europe’s doorstep.” We pray also for those involved in the demanding rescue and recovery mission.

This catastrophe reminds us of near daily instances across the Mediterranean in which Italian, Maltese, and Greek coast guards are largely left alone in rescue efforts. Reacting to this latest tragedy, and following so many others, WCC General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit called for “renewed solidarity and action, and for a resumption and strengthening of a collective European response.” We ask for meaningful European search and rescue efforts and call on EU Member States to contribute substantially and speedily to such efforts in order to prevent future loss of life among people driven to this desperate crossing.

Tveit added “These tragedies are strong calls for strengthening the efforts to address the root causes for poverty, social insecurity and conflicts in the countries from where the migrants are coming."

“Only legal and safe pathways into Europe would help to prevent these tragedies from happening. This includes increased refugee resettlement and lifting of visa requirements for people arriving from countries in conflict, like Syria and Eritrea. We need safe passages,” said Doris Peschke General Secretary CCME.

The (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches in Europe, including the Church of England. The CCME is the ecumenical agency on migration and integration, asylum and refugees, and against racism and discrimination in Europe. Members are Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant Churches and Councils of Churches.