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.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A Heidelberg to Rangoon connection

The Revd Dr Elizabeth Koepping
I discovered a while back, to my surprise, that the Revd Dr Elizabeth Koepping, the Priest-in-Charge of the English Church in Heidelberg, is a well known theological lecturer in one of my homelands, Burma (also known as Myanmar). Dr Koepping is a researcher in the field of global Christianity. Among her many publications is a magisterial four volume resource entitled Studies in World Christianity, which she edited

On a recent family visit to Rangoon, I was able to deliver a set of these volumes that Elizabeth had given as a gift to the Association for Theological Education in Myanmar. The Executive Secretary, the Revd Dr Lal Tin Hre was thrilled to know of this connection and was delighted with the gift from Elizabeth. Up-to-date theological reference books are scarce in his institute.

Dr Lal Tin Hre
During the family visit I was also able to have some conversations on ecumenical matters in particular with my friend the Archbishop of Yangon, the Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo. His Roman Catholic counterpart, Charles Maung Bo, was recently made a cardinal by Pope Francis. Archbishop Stephen is keen to support the work of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, (IARCCUM), of which I am the Anglican Co-Chairman.

Archbishop Stephen

Back again

I'm back.

I did not do too badly with my intended 2 months study leave. Since 18 February when I signed off I was able to have 38 days out of the 56 which were completely free from any diocesan or ecumenical activities or concerns. It was a gift: time to pray, to catch up on reading, and enjoy quality time with family and friends, especially some whom I do not see too often.

I am indebted to the Senior Staff of the Diocese who supported this time of leave and shouldered some extra work on my behalf. I thank Deacon Frances particularly who has been brilliant in keeping things moving which come to my desk, and for ensuring that I was not disturbed except in unavoidable circumstances.

So as I get back into the swing of things again, there will be a resumption of articles on this blog.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Archdeacon Jonathan Boardman lectures in Florence in the "Anglican Miracles" series at St Mark's

The Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, pondering a point
The parish of St Mark's Florence has been hosting a series of public lectures on the Anglican Tradition with the intriguing title, "Miracles of Anglicanism". As I was already in Florence on Diocesan Board of Finance business last week, I was able to hear one of the lectures given by the Archdeacon of Italy & Malta, the Venerable Jonathan Boardman. He examined the issues often asked about Anglicans particularly with the ordination or women to the priesthood, and now, in the Church of England, to the episcopate.

His lecture was very engaging, and provoked an interesting discussion following. Fr Jonathan drew on references to three Florences, an ingenious approach given the location. The three were the Revd Florence Li Tim Oi, who was ordained to the priesthood in Hong Kong in 1944, Florence Nightingale, a spiritual director to many men, and Florence Margaret (Stevie) Smith, the poet.

St Mark's, Florence

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Message from Coptic Bishop Angaelos

Bishop Angaelos

Today I received the statement which is below from Bishop Angaelos who is a dear friend and close ecumenical colleague. I was able to send to him a message of solidarity and assurance of prayer following the murder of the Coptic Christians in Egypt.

I was also able to be in touch with the Revd Darren McCallig, the Chaplain of St Alban's Copenhagen, following the attacks in that city last weekend.

The prayers of the people of this diocese continue
Loving God,
Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.

16 February 2015

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya

It is with deep feelings of sorrow and pain that we received confirmation earlier this evening of the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya at the hands of Daesh (IS). While every life is sacred and every death tragic, the particular brutality demonstrated in this instance and others like it shows not only a disregard for life but a gross misunderstanding of its sanctity and equal value in every person.
Our prayers are particularly with the families of these young Coptic men, who were fathers, brothers, sons and friends of many within their tight-knit rural communities, in which their absence will cause significant loss and sorrow. Their families are not only deprived of breadwinners who had travelled to Libya to support them, but of the joy that they bring when they return.

While it may seem illogical or incomprehensible, we also pray for those who have carried out these horrific crimes, that the value of God's creation and human life may become more evident to them, and in this realisation, that the wider effects of pain brought by this and other acts of brutality may be realised and avoided. We pray for an end to the dehumanisation of captives who become mere commodities to be bartered, traded and negotiated with.

We cannot remember our Coptic brothers without also remembering all those who have lost their lives in equally brutal circumstances: journalists, aid workers, medical staff, religious leaders, a young pilot and communities that are considered incompatible with a fringe and intolerant element.
In the midst of this sorrow however, we must continue to dig deeper for the joy that comes from an understanding that  this life is but a "vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14), and that true glory and joy are found in an eternal life prepared for all those who live in and for love and peace.

It is only through this understanding that we can continue to live according to the words of 1 Peter 3:15 as demonstrated in the life and witness of the Coptic Church and her children over centuries, "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."

Study leave

I will be on study leave until 11 April, so there may be many fewer posts during this time.
Best wishes to all readers.

Friday, 13 February 2015

15 enquirers explore vocation to Holy Orders

The Diocese in Europe has a healthy number of vocations to the ordained ministry, and continues to encourage and foster vocations. The Director of Ordinands, William Gulliford (pictured far left above, who is also Vicar of St Mark’s Regent’s Park, where the above was taken) hosts a weekend each year for those embarking on the process of discernment.

From 6-8 February 15 enquirers coming from across the diocese attended a three day conference, which included talks, visits and exercises designed to prepare those at this early stage for what lies ahead. The discernment team from the diocese included the the Revd Canon Meurig Williams, the Revd Deacon Frances Hiller, the Revd Douglas Emmott, the new Vocations Adviser for France, the Revd Nigel Stimpson, the new ADO for Spain, as well as former ordinands from the diocese, some now in others dioceses. Sonia Taylor, Senior Vocations Adviser for France gave a talk on Spiritual Direction and Discernment. The Revd Matthias Grebe of Bonn and Cologne was visiting London last weekend and he and his wife Vickie joined the group on the Sunday following the final parish visits.

Fr William commented that the group was “a most interesting and varied group, from a very wide range of backgrounds, the eldest being in their early fifties and the youngest in their mid-twenties. The Diocese is indeed blessed that such gifted people are presenting themselves for service in God’s Church.”

The Diocese currently has 14 candidates in training for Holy Orders, four of whom are in residential colleges in England and nine are on the Eastern Region Ministry Course, which trains our non-residential candidates, and one is training on the mixed-mode context-based St Mellitus course. One candidate alongside part-time training on ERMC is doing a full-time degree at the Catholic University of Leuven. That blend of European study of theology with and attention to thoroughly Anglican formation through an English institution, provides a unique training for future ministry for appropriate candidates.

Five deacons will be ordained this Petertide. All being well and up to nine candidates should be proceeding to Bishops Advisory Panels this academic year, four of whom have already heard they will enter training in September 2015.

All interested in ordination should see first an Area Vocations Adviser, and then attend an Enquirers’ Conference, before embarking on the formal discernment process, commended by their church councils. The process can take up to two years, which is the average length of time in any English Diocese.  Candidates proceed from the Enquirers’ weekend to an interview with the DDO and then, all being well, to a Vocations Seminar, held in Woking each October. From there they proceed to a Ministry Division Bishops’ Advisory Panel, which recommends whether or not a Bishop should sponsor the candidate into training. The Panel offers advice on the character of training.

Aspects of the training process and the funding of theological formation is the subject of discussion in the General Synod.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul, Malta

Martin Scicluna delivering his lecture
1,955 years ago St Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. The Pro-Cathedral of St Paul in Valetta celebrated this feast on Sunday 8 February. The principal celebration in Malta and Gozo is on 10 February, a national holiday on the islands. The event is recorded in chapter 27 of the Acts of the Apostles, of course,

The Anglican celebration included a festive Mass in the Pro-Cathedral, followed by a lecture, which this year was given by Martin Scicluna, the Director of  the Today Public Policy Institute and a well known commentator on Maltese society. His lecture was on the "Henry II Syndrome", the intricacies of Church-State relations.

The High Altar of St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Valetta
The Anglican Pro-Cathedral gives high priority to ecumenical relations on the islands. The Chancellor, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, has nurtured very close links with the majority Roman Catholic Church. The warmth of ecumenical life was very visible on the weekend as several key Roman Catholic Church leaders came to St Paul's for events, including the Apostolic Administrator Bishop Charles Scicluna, and the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Aldo Cavalli.

Canon Godfrey (rt) with Archbishop Cavalli, the Papal Nuncio

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Sunday 8 Febtruary - an international day of prayer against human trafficking


On Sunday 8 February 2015, Roman Catholics around the world will celebrate the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. This date falls on the Feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who later became a nun and was canonised in 2000. This initiative is the latest in growing worldwide efforts from across the Church to address the human rights violations and crimes associated with the trafficking of human beings.

Human trafficking has long been a priority area for the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the fellowship of 114 Anglican, Orthodox, Old Catholic and Protestant Churches in Europe. CEC's work in this area is in very close relationship with the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), seeking response to the complex social and political dimensions of the problem.

Additionally, cooperation between CEC and the Roman Catholic Church in Europe (through the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, COMECE) has called for an increasingly robust response from the European community to bring about an end to human trafficking. Among recommendations of the Churches is a call for more research on new forms of human trafficking, increased specialised services for victims, and encouragement to establish better provision for residence provisions for trafficked persons.

O God, when we hear of children and adults
deceived and taken to unknown places
for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, and organ ‘harvesting’,
our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry
that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force.
We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery,
and pray for it to end.
Give us wisdom and courage to reach out
and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits
have been so wounded, so that together we may
make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers
with a love that is tender and good.
Send the exploiters away empty-handed
to be converted from this wickedness,
and help us all to claim the freedom
that is your gift to your children.



Monday, 2 February 2015

Praise to Christ our Light

Today's feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple draws our Christmas cycle to an end. On this day we light extra candles, and as Simeon and Anna greeted the Christ Child, the light of the world, in the temple, we pray that we may be filled with the light of his love.
"The true light has come, the light that enlightens every one who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brothers and sisters, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour". (From a sermon by St Sophronius of Damascus, circa 560).

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Copenhagen continues its unique ecumenical celebration in Unity Week

In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the annual Ecumenical Church Walk took place in Copenhagen. More than 800 hundred people walked together through the city visiting and worshipping in churches of different denominations as a sign of Christian unity. The walk began in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and included visits to the Methodist Church, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, St. Alban’s Anglican Church (where was held two shortened versions of traditional Evensong) and the Swedish Church where a joint act of worship concluded the evening.

The Ecumenical Church Walk for Christian Unity was started by the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius and this 61st consecutive annual walk in Copenhagen is the oldest of its kind in Europe.

The Diocesan Director of Training, the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, who lives in Copenhagen, has been on the organising committee of this ecumenical event for many years. It was a good opportunity for her to be able to introduce the new Chaplain of St Alban's, the Revd Darren McCallig, who is recently arrived to take up his post, to the key ecumenical partners in the city.

Fr Darren McCallig and Canon Ulla Monberg in St Alban's Copenhagen

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A view from Athens on the recent election in Greece

What is the feeling on the streets of Athens, following the elections in Greece on Sunday, at which the leader of the leftist Syriza party has emerged as Prime Minister? The Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, Senior Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Greece has written with some impressions.
"There is a sense of elation on the streets. The voice of the ‘people’ has surfaced declaring a strong and defiant ‘no’ to more austerity and the humiliation that has accompanied it. Much hope that better days are to emerge – even to the point that those who have lost employment in the civil service (thought to be totally over bloated) – will have their jobs restored; pensioners hope that their pensions will be restored to pre austerity levels; electricity will be restored to those cut off; a call has gone to all young adults (educated and able) who have migrated to other lands for employment to return to the motherland. The new government seems to be wanting to return the country to pre-austerity days and have little regard for the structural reforms that have been sought by the Troika (the EU, European Central Bank and the IMF). So elation with much hope characterizes those on the street – those who have suffered the pain of austerity. Exceedingly high anticipations regarding the huge promises made by Mr. Tzipras, the new Prime Minister. ‘Today, Monday, austerity has finished’ is the mantra. And the defiance expresses itself to the point that ‘today Greece begins the reform of Europe"!"

But Fr Malcolm goes on to say,

"Yet deep anxiety exists as to how Mr. Tzipras can ever deliver the anticipations now let loose in the hearts of the populace without bankrupting the country and withdrawing from the Euro. Deep dismay could set in and the country could face much unrest. A big unknown is before us."

As Fr Malcolm has indicated, there are a lot of unknowns ahead. Meanwhile the Churches are trying to cope with the crippling reality that one in 4 Greeks is on the brink of poverty, with homelessness on the rise, youth unemployment at about 57%, challenges posed by recent arrivals of refugees and migrants, and devastating pressures on the cohesion of a cornerstone of Greek society, the family. St Paul's in Athens continues its ecumenical engagement in social outreach, such as in the "Church in the Street’ programme whereby the Orthodox Church with the Anglican Chaplaincy give out 10.000 meals each day in the city of Athens alone.
Our prayers continue that effective and lasting change to benefit the people will be forthcoming, now that some hope has been rekindled.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Anglican Church in Costa Brava: new work, new vocations, new parsonage

The Anglican Church in the Costa Brava is a relatively new parish in the diocese. Services were begun in the ancient church of St Stephen in Madremanya (pictured above). They continue there but now two other worship centres have been opened in the pastoral area, in Pau (not the French one!) and Penedes. The parish website is here.

Due to the generous hospitality of the Roman Catholic diocese of Girona we have use of their churches for our Anglican services.

As the parish grows numerically, the spiritual life is also deepening. A person is presently training for Reader ministry, and another is in the process of discernment for Holy Orders. The priest-in-charge is the Revd Anne Jenkins. Recently 3 persons were presented to me for Confirmation.

The parish has a pattern of a shared lunch after the Sunday eucharist in Madremanya, which is typically abundant in true Catalunyan style, with some excellent local wine to accompany.

Recently a new rented parsonage has been found, which offers rooms for parish use and a patio which will be enjoyed by parishioners in the summer, to cater these events, as well as providing private accommodation for the priest. Parts of the parsonage are several centuries old!

One of the confirmands, Ursula Glieneke, is an artist (and a theologian) and is preparing for an exhibition of her work in Germany. Here is a link to her blog about her work.