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Friday, 1 August 2014
I will be taking some leave from 1 to 20 August. Do not expect too many blog updates during this time! My chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller (+44 (0) 20 7898 1161), or the staff at the diocesan office (+44 (0) 020 7898 1155) are able to get messages to me in case of urgent need.
Thursday, 31 July 2014
|Al Ahli Hospital, Gaza: A project of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East|
Christian Aid is the relief and development agency sponsored by the major non-Roman Catholic UK Churches, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox, Reformed, Baptist, Independent and others. It works in close alliance with CAFOD, the Roman Catholic relief and development agency. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is presently the chairman of the Christian Aid board. This diocese in Europe has partnered with Christian Aid, most recently in raising funds for an education project for Afghan women and girls, through our Lent Appeal.
I quote the statement below, in full. The Christian Aid website is here. A resource with prayers, readings and intercessions for the Gaza crisis can be found on their site here.
The Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East has a presence in Gaza, including running the Al-Ahli hospital. Like the other hospitals in Gaza, Al-Ahli hospital is experiencing severe shortages in medicine, fuel for electrical generators, food for patients, and food parcels for many in the community seeking this help. The Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East have launched an appeal for the hospital. Details can be found here.
St Andrew's is one of the most international of our parishes in the diocese, with members drawn from every continent. Church of England worship in Moscow dates 1553 when Tsar Ivan the Terrible allowed the first non-Russian-Orthodox services, at that time for the English traders employed by the Russia Company. The church and parsonage were confiscated by the Bolsheviks in 1920, and used for various purposes, including as a recording studio for the Soviet State music company Melodiya. Until 1991 when St Andrew's was reopened for Anglican worship, services had to be held in the British Embassy.
Fr Clive succeeds the Revd Canon Dr Simon Stephen's who has been Chaplain since 1999. Fr Simon celebrated his last Sunday in St Andrew's on 15 June. He has taken up a volunteer post in the Province of Melanesia (the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), which could not be a more contrasting place to Moscow!
|Fr Simon Stephens at his last service in St Andrew's|
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
It took a while, but persistent hard work led in recent years by the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, the Venerable Jonathan Boardman, finally resulted in the official recognition of the Church of England in Italian law. On Thursday 17 July, President Giorgio Napolitano signed a decree which gives legal recognition and personalità giuridica to the Chiesa d'Inghilterra. This is significant news for our Church and gives us a firm legal basis for our work and activity and opens up possibilities of further benefits within Italy itself.
I recall that my first visit to the Italy and Malta Archdeaconry Synod in 2003 had the question of the legal status of our Church on the agenda. In 2004 to 2005 I was the Acting Archdeacon of Italy and Malta (in addition to Suffragan Bishop) and remember explorations about how to carry forward this proposal. Intensive work began about 8 years ago, through a committee (pictured above) that included representative laity from across Italy, legal counsel and the UK ambassadors both to Italy and the Holy See. We congratulate the Archdeacon and his committee which have brought us to this day.
There are over 20 congregations of our Church in Italy, with several new communities emerging and at least 2 congregations which regularly worship in Italian. The oldest of our congregations, St George’s Venice, has a history going back 410 years.
|Archdeacon Jonathan Boardman (3rd from right)|
Saturday, 26 July 2014
I don't often join in protests in Parliament Square but today, 26 July, I did join the Iraqi Christian community whose churches organised a solidarity stand for the victimised Iraqi Christians in their homeland, especially in the area of Mosul, a city in Northern Iraq, near the ancient biblical city of Nineveh.
Many signs were being held up with the letter Nun (ن) and the wording, "I am Iraqi; I am Christian". Nun (ن) is the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet, equivalent of N in the Roman alphabet. It is the first letter of the word Nasara (نصارى : Nazarenes), which is what ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, have marked on the property of Christians in the areas they now claim as their caliphate. ISIS gave an ultimatum to Christians living in and around Mosul: convert, pay jizya (a protection tax) or be put to death. The region is now left without any Christians, for the first time in close to 2000 years, the last remaining having fled with only the clothes on their back.
Many Muslims joined their Christian brothers and sisters in solidarity in Parliament square.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has published three prayers today for the people of Mosul, highlighting the common suffering of both Christians and Muslims in Iraq::
Holy God, your Holy family was driven into exile and many holy innocent boys were massacred, we hold before you today the suffering people of Mosul. Amen
Hold in your loving arms, all those who have been caught up in this conflict. We pray for those forced to flee their homes, all who have lost friends, family and possessions and who now face an uncertain future. Bless our Christian brothers and sisters who have seen the destruction of their churches and communities and for our Muslim neighbours who have also experienced destruction and suffering. Amen.
Lord, in this city where Christians and Muslims have lived together for over 1400 years, we pray for healing, peace and restoration. Bring light out of this present darkness and hope from despair that guided by your Holy Spirit, all your children may find a new way forward together based on your love for us all. Amen
Friday, 25 July 2014
Präses Dr. Irmgard Schwaetzer was the special guest at the recent sessions of the General Synod in York. The Präses chairs the synod of the Evangelical Church of Germany, the EKD, and is the highest ranking lay person in that Church. Prior to her Church career, Dr Schwaetzer was a distinguished German politician and cabinet member, and was largely responsible for overseeing the move of the capital from Bonn to Berlin after reunification.
In her address to the synod, she spoke about the alarming results of survey in Germany where it seemed that the Church is losing touch with young people, and where the number of those openly rejecting the Church appears to be rising. On the other hand, people apparently hold the local parish clergy in high esteem (not the bishops!) and there is an interest in liturgy and "well-designed" worship.
The Church of England and the EKD have an agreement for eucharistic hospitality and cooperation, called the Meissen Agreement.
The Nikaean Club and Archbishop Sentamu hosted a dinner on the eve of the Synod to honour Dr Schwaetzer.
Monday, 21 July 2014
The Parish of Good Shepherd Poitou-Charentes celebrated 10 years as a recognized chaplaincy of the Diocese in Europe, on the weekend of 5 and 6 July. The Revd Hazel Door is the Chaplain and she heads a team of 8 clergy and 11 Readers who serve 17 worship centres scattered across 4 French départements.
The anniversary celebrations included the confirmation of 3 members, who, after the laying-on-of-hands led the congregation in the intercessions, and at the end of the service, bearing lit candles, led the faithful out of the Church to signify that the job of a Christian disciple is to bear witness in their lives to Christ our Light, in the world.
Being France, the celebrations included good food and wine!
The main anniversary eucharist was celebrated in the ancient Abbey Church of St Maur in Marcillac-Lanville. People travelled from across the vast pastoral area covered by the Chaplaincy to join in the festive eucharist. Many of the clergy and Readers who assist the Revd Hazel Door took part in the service.
Thursday, 17 July 2014
The Revd Canon Mark Collinson, the Chaplain of Christ Church, Amsterdam, has forwarded the message below as he seeks the prayers of the people of this diocese, following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17.
As people all over the Netherlands hear of those they know who were on the crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, ministers of the Schiphol Airport Chaplaincy organise support for bereaved family members. I hear of one whole family, whose daughter went to my son’s school, were amongst the 154 Dutch people on the aircraft. King Willem-Alexander is ‘deeply affected’ by the news, and expresses concern for those who are bereaved, and those who don’t yet know whether their loved ones were on the flight.
Protestant, Anglican, Old Catholic and Roman Catholic ministers are meeting with grief stricken family members at Schiphol together with other professional support services. Revd Nico Sarot, the Old Catholic Anglican priest who is one of the full-time ministers at the airport, is also there. Volunteers who normally provide support in the chapel/meditation centre are being drafted in to provide extra resources, so that there are at least two people available per family.
Please pray for those who are bereaved, together with all those who provide support for them, and for our mission partner the Anglican Old Catholic Airport Ministry, as people in this nation come to terms with this tragedy.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, CTBI, has published a useful resource, We Will Remember, compiled by Keith Clements, to help Christians reflect on the events of World War I. It is available as an e-book from CTBI, and can be downloaded FREE from their website here:
Much will be said about the First World War during this time of commemoration. For Christians particularly it will be a time for reflection on how the churches 100 years ago responded to the crisis of war and the immensity of suffering that it unleashed, and on what this may still have to teach us as faith struggles with the issues of a violent world today.
We Will Remember is a collection of voices from the First World War and its aftermath, showing how faith faced up to the shock of international conflict, the moral issues of patriotism and obedience to God, of suffering and grief, of enmity and forgiveness, of the choices between bearing arms and pacifism, and of how far the churches were able to remain faithful to their calling as members of the one, worldwide body of Christ when their nations were at war with each other.
Some of the voices are from already familiar figures, whether preachers, poets, soldiers, writers, theologians or peace campaigners. But many others are heard for the first time, and there are some surprises, contradicting easy generalisations about how churches and their leaders behaved. German and Indian voices are heard too. At the end of each chapter suggestions are made for biblical meditation, and questions and themes offered for study either individually or in groups.
Keith Clements is well known in our Diocese in Europe. He has been a speaker at our Diocesan Synod and some Archdeaconry Synods. He is a former General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
|Europe General Synod Reps: Mrs Madeleine Holmes, Canon Debbie Flach, Canon Ann Turner, Revd Brian Llewellyn|
The decision of the General Synod yesterday to permit the consecration of women as bishops marks an historic moment in the life of the Church of England. In the Diocese in Europe, as in the rest of the Church, there is a spectrum of opinion on this development. The majority of clergy and laity are in favour, as we learned from discussions in diocesan synod and Bishop's Council. A minority are unable conscientiously to accept women bishops. However, we are a diocese gifted in the ways of living together with diversity. We are blessed with a real sense of family, despite the vast territory we cover. And we are well experienced in matters related to the unity of the Church, given our ecumenical vocation. I believe that we can rejoice in the decision of the Synod. We can also rejoice in our unity in diversity, which will call upon us to honour and respect different views and seek to build each other up, as together we serve Christ's Holy Catholic Church and participate in her mission in the world.
The following is the text of a letter I sent to our clergy today:
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Last Sunday 6 July, a large congregation gathered around the Revd Doreen Cage, the assistant curate in the parish of St George's Málaga, as she presided for the first time at the Holy Eucharist. As Doreen's ordination to the priesthood was in Cologne, with very few of her own parishioners able to be present, this was an opportunity for the support of the parish to be made known.
A priest's first mass is always a moving and memorable occasion. At this service, there was lots of participation from parishioners in the liturgy, including the large number who are originally from Nigeria, who sang a Peruvian Gloria!
In the above photo, flanking Doreen are congregational wardens (there are three congregations in the parish) and locum priest, Fr Peter Ford OGS.
|St George's Church|
Monday, 7 July 2014
One of the youth of the parish led the procession into Church at the start of the celebration of 170 years of Anglican presence in Stuttgart, on 22 June. The service was a special "Homecoming" event in St Catherine's Church. Regular church members and guests were joined by "homecomers" for the joyous eucharistic service. To add to the joy of the occasion, six people were also confirmed.
Some artifacts from the history of the Church were used in the service including a lace altar cloth and two brass collection plates, originally from St Catherine's but gifted many years ago to St Mark's Versailles and loaned back to Stuttgart for this anniversary. The priest-in-charge, the Revd Ken Dimmick had the chance to tell the story of a lump of silver found in the ruins of the bombed out church in 1944, which was later made into the chalice which was used in the anniversary service on that day.
The Jimmy Thomas Gospel Singers added to the music of the liturgy. A festive lunch followed, including a birthday cake for the parish.
I received a gift of a new appropriate mitre for the celebration.