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.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Revd John Barker at service of peace and reconciliation in Etchmiadzin

On Sunday 12 October, the Revd John Barker, our priest in Yerevan, Armenia, was privileged to be invited by His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II to attend a service of prayers for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, and in particular in Syria. This initiative was agreed at a recent inter-faith conference that was held in Etchmiadzin.

Prayers at the service were led by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.

His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem
The cathedral at Etchmiadzin was full for the service, and the congregation included significant numbers of Ambassadors and representatives of the international community. As well as our Church of England presence, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Armenia were present.

His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II

St Andrew's Puerto Pollensa welcomes Fr Nigel Stimpson as their new priest

Fr Nigel Stimpson
On Thursday 9 October, the parish of St Andrew's, Puerto Pollensa, in Mallorca, welcomed formally their new priest, the Revd Nigel Stimpson. Fr Nigel joins his colleague, the Revd David Waller who is based in St Philip and St James Church in Palma, in serving the large English speaking community who live on or visit this island. (Fr David Waller also serves as Area Dean for the Balearics and Catalunya).

The Church was packed for the licensing service, which was supported by music from two choirs. The congregation uses a new leased facility which from appearances may end up being too small if the congregational numbers increase any more!. We were joined by the Venerable Geoff Johnston, the Interim Archdeacon of Gibraltar.

Unfortunately, I was not joined by my luggage, which Iberia had misplaced. (The second time that they have done this to me on a pastoral visit to Mallorca). People were very kind and managed to cobble together what I needed for the occasion, however.

The service had ecumenical significance as well. The ecumenical officer of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palma de Mallorca, Fr Lorenzo, attended the eucharist and read a warm message of welcome to Fr Nigel from Bishop Javier. (Bp Javier would have attended personally, but was indisposed due to a recent accidental fall).

Fr Nigel comes to Mallorca from Lisbon, where he was chaplain of St George's with St Paul's Estoril. We assure him of our prayers as he takes up this new challenge in a different part of the Archdeaconry.

L to R: Fr Lorenzo, Area Dean David Waller, Bp David, Fr Nigel, Archdeacon Geoff Johnston

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Holy Trinity Madeira welcomes their new priest

The people of Holy Trinity Madeira celebrated the appointment and licensing of their new Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Canon John Blair, on Thursday the 9th October. Fr John is a Canon of Derry Cathedral in the Church of Ireland, having served as a parish priest and Rural Dean in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. Prior to that John served as an Army Chaplain, serving in the UK, in Germany and Bosnia. Fr John and his wife Jean know Madeira well from past holiday times and more recently with John as a regular locum priest, and both are looking forward to bringing their particular skills and experience to their new posting.

The licensing was carried out by Fr Bob Bates, the Area Dean for Portugal with Madeira. The photograph above shows the gathering on the church steps after the service, with Fr John (extreme right) and Jean (front with blue dress) alongside the Churchwardens and friends including other church leaders on the island, and the Mayor of Funchal (right of the cross).

Holy Trinity is a lively place. Although the resident English-speaking population is quite small, the church almost always filled on Sunday mornings with the many visitors who come to the island.

We wish John and Jean and the people of Holy Trinity every blessing in their new partnership in this parish, and welcome them warmly to this Diocese in Europe.

Holy Trinity Madeira

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Wanted: a new Priest-in-Charge of St Nicholas, Ankara, Turkey

St Nicholas Church
I am presently recruiting a priest-in-charge for a very stimulating position in the diocese: St Nicholas, Ankara. The position becomes vacant in January 2015 and is open to priests in communion with the Church of England, both men and women. This is a post which is suitable for someone recently retired but still interested in an active and engaging ministry.

There is a small stipend of approximately £620 per month (about US $980). Medical cover and other expenses of office are provided. The accommodation is a light and airy, concierge-served, fully furnished three bedroom apartment, with a separate study, lounge and dining area.

The essential qualities that are needed in the next priest include:

Wide and deep parish experience
Ability to develop parish relationships in a mobile community
Ecumenical and inter-faith sensitivity
An international outlook

Saint Nicolas is the only Anglican Church in the city and one of only a small number in Turkey. (The others are located in Istanbul, Izmir and Didim). Turkey is officially a secular nation but the vast majority of the population of Ankara is, like the rest of Turkey, Moslem. The parish offers worship and pastoral care in the Anglican tradition to the international community in Ankara. The congregation is dynamic and mobile with about a 30% turnover each year. Most are working for one of the various diplomatic missions, NGOs and the like.

Visitors and regular parishioners
The capital of Turkey, Ankara is a modern city of more than four million people, good facilities for healthcare and cultural activities.  St Nicholas is a modern building is located on the British Embassy compound. Customarily, the priest-in-charge is also chaplain to the British Ambassador.

The liturgical tradition is “catholic” but open, welcoming and inclusive. The sacrament is reserved, vestments and incense are used. Readings are often in various languages of the home countries of the members of the congregation. There is a ministry team of an assistant priest and lay ministers. There is an active Sunday school.

Ankara is on a major migration route from the Middle East to the West. Many members of St Nicholas are Christian refugees from Middle Eastern countries. The parish is active in ecumenical outreach to refugees and migrants.

If you are interested, or know of someone who is, please contact the Diocese in Europe Appointments Secretary, Ms Catherine Jackson: catherine.jackson@churchofengland.org.

Prayer before the Sunday liturgy

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Reader Workshop: Preaching the Word in Anglicanism

From the 23 to the 25 September twelve Readers and Readers in Training gathered in St Columba's House, Woking, to learn about ‘Preaching the Word in Anglicanism’. They came from Spain, the Netherlands, France, Greece and Gibraltar. Reader Jan Watershoot, of Holy Trinity Eindhoven in the Netherlands has written about the event:

"Every aspect of preaching was brought to the table.
On the first day Ms Jules Melvin, actress and producer, showed us all the ins and outs of posture, how to breathe, articulation (“lips, tongue, teeth”), gesticulation, facial expression and how to control the sounds that we produce. A very instructive session, especially if you realise that about 75% of your message comes across non-verbally.
On day two, in three sessions, Bishop David gave us a discourse about "Preaching in the Anglican tradition". Impossible within the scheme of this little article to explain everything the Bishop taught us. Still some important points: How to use the Bible in preaching, taking into account that the Bible is a human rendition of God’s message. The Bishop showed how important it is to distinguish between the ‘Word of God’ as the Logos, the Incarnate Word, and the ‘Word of God’ in the sense of Sacred Scripture. Divine Revelation is not primarily ‘information about God’, but God revealing himself to mankind in the Word made Flesh. We studied the way that God revealed himself in Jesus, 2000 years ago, but also how we at present receive that Divine Revelation, through the power of the Holy Spirit in us and the authentic inspired witness of Scripture.
We want our preaching to be biblical. What does that mean?
It is not the same as ‘Bible exposition’, explaining the text word by word.
It is not a chance to ‘show off’ our theological skills.
It is supposed to be ‘scholarly’, but not a lecture.
It is not just about the Message, but it should lead the people to the Messenger, to an encounter with the living Christ.
We also discussed some practical matters such as the number of points to try to make in a sermon (one good one is best!), and that a sermon needs a good beginning and a good end, and both of these should be kept quite close together! 
We concluded that a sermon is an event with active participants: the congregation, a preacher, Scripture and of course the Holy Spirit. It is ‘The Word of the Lord’ applied to the pastoral needs of a given time and place. Preaching and pastoral care are connected. 
On the third day, led by the Revd Elaine Labourel, we ‘played’ BBC radio ‘Thought for the day’. We all had a page from a newspaper from which to pick an article. We had to write s short message about the subject from the article, combined with a biblical message and a thought to chew on for the listeners. We all ‘preached’ our little sermons and were given feedback by Elaine, Canon Ulla Monberg, our Director of Training and our fellow Readers. A wonderful practical exercise!
All in all a great workshop: a lot to learn, the pleasure of good worship together, a lot to share with fellow Readers, a moment to meet old friends and make new ones. During days like these St. Columba’s is a good place to be!"

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Two new Churches enter the Porvoo Communion

Archbishop Rozitis of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad, signs the Porvoo Agreement
On 19 September, at the close of the meeting of Porvoo Church Leaders, the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (LELCA) and the Lutheran Church in Great Britain (LCiGB) signed the Porvoo Declaration. The signing was during a solemn celebration of the Eucharist in the chapel at Bishopthorpe Palace, York, at which the Most Revd Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of Uppsala, preached and the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, presided.

Archbishop Almars Ernsts Rozitis of the LELCA and Bishop Martin Lind of the LCiGB signed on behalf of their Churches.

This "extension" of the Porvoo Communion came after a period of observer status for these Churches and eventual approval by the Porvoo Primates and members of the Contact Group. The welcoming of these Churches into the Communion makes possible the interchangeability of their priests with those of the other Churches of the Porvoo Communion, including our own Church of England.

Bishop Martin Lind (LCiGB) and Archbishop Elmars Rozitis (LELCA) flanked by the Archbishops of Dublin and York and the Bishop of Copenhagen and Presiding Bishop of Norway

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Leaders of Porvoo Churches in York

From 17 - 19 September, the Archbishop of York hosted at his residence, Bishopthorpe Palace, a gathering of 45 church leaders from the Porvoo Communion of Churches. The theme of the gathering was "Towards Greater Unity and Closer Fellowship". The meeting was chaired by the Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, and the Bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov-Jakobsen. As Chairman of the Porvoo Panel of the Church of England, I was an invited consultant to the meeting.

The meeting set out a work plan for the next 4 years which would take into account these themes which emerged from the meeting:

  • The role of servanthood, leadership and discipleship in authentic Christian witness, with a special focus on the current situation in Europe.
  • The need to provide space and opportunities for prayer, spiritual expression and pilgrimage.
  • The need for a refreshed emphasis in mission as a way of life with and in the community.
  • The importance of including young people emphasising their visible and active role in the life of the Communion.
  • The important contribution of majority and minority churches in the Porvoo Communion of Churches

Participants attended Evensong at York Minster each day.

The Porvoo Communion includes Churches, Anglican and Lutheran, from the British Isles and Ireland and the Nordic and Baltic countries.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

St Andrew's Tangier welcomes a resident priest-in-charge

The Revd Joe Ponic (centre) with Parish Reps Irwin Timms (left) and Leyton Williams. Canon Medhat Sabry of Casablanca is on the right
St Andrew's Church in Tangier is about to enter a new phase of its life. This historic Church, built in 1894 on land donated to the British Community by King Hassan I of Morocco, is home to an international community of English-speaking Christians. For decades the parish has been served by a rota of faithful locum priests who spend a brief time in the city ministering to what was at one time a largely British expatriate population.

In recent years the parish has grown and the profile of the foreign community has changed significantly. Now St Andrew's serves many people from sub-saharan African countries, as well British, US, Australian and other expat communities. There are new opportunities for ministry with foreign students who are attending some international university programmes based in Tangier.

After a period of consultation with the Churchwardens about the future, we agreed to move ahead to appoint a long-term resident priest-in-charge. The Revd Joseph Ponic was interviewed for the post on 8 September, and appointed. He begins his ministry almost immediately. Fr Joe comes from the Diocese of Saskatoon in Canada, about as contrasting a place as is possible from Morocco! He has a long experience in interim ministry and in parishes in Canada. He has also taught for a while in Egypt.

St Andrew's is one of several churches in the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar which are showing remarkable signs of growth and potential and it is good that the parish now has a resident priest-in-charge to accompany the congregation in these next important steps. We welcome Fr Joe to this diocese.

St Andrew's is an architectural gem. The interior is designed with Moorish elements. A historic cemetery adjoins the Church. The property is looked after by Yaseem, a Muslim who lives on the site. His father Mustafa was the caretaker for many years before him.

The French artist Henri Matisse has painted St Andrew's. The original hangs in a museum in Moscow.

Yaseem the Caretaker

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

College of Bishops begins the conversations on human sexuality


The College of Bishops is in meetings right now in Leicestershire. We are beginning the process of shared conversations on human sexuality, one of the outcomes of the Pilling Report which was pubished about 18 months ago. Representatives in each diocese of the Church of England will eventually be engaging in this process, and these confidential discussions among the bishops are the start.

It is clear that the aim of the conversations are not so much to reach agreement on the issues related to human sexuality, given the range of strongly-held convictions across the Church and among the bishops on these matters. However, it is hoped that we will be able to "disagree well" as David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Director of Reconciliation has put it.

Those of us in the Diocese in Europe have a range of views on these issues, of course. It is interesting however that we have lived with a reality in many of our countries that England is just coming to terms with. Civil partnership-type arrangements and in some cases same-sex marriage has been legal in many European countries for quite some time, and not only in what is commonly thought to be the "liberal" Nordic countries. For instance, traditional Catholic countries like Portugal, Spain and Belgium permit same-sex marriages. There are also some European Churches with which the Church of England is in communion, which permit their clergy to bless same-sex unions. On the other hand some countries in the Diocese have no provision for same-sex unions and a few still have rather weak anti-discrimination legislation relating to the LGBT community. And, of course, many of our ecumenical partners firmly maintain the teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman.

So, in addition to our own personal positions, the members of the Diocese in Europe have a very wide range of perspectives to bring from the countries where we are present and from our wider ecumenical relations.



Saturday, 13 September 2014

Holy Cross Day, 14 September

This Sunday is Holy Cross Day. As we gather together around the sign which is both the instrument of suffering, as well as the victory-sign of Christ, it will be an appropriate time to pray for suffering and persecuted peoples in the Middle East, and to unite with them in solidarity and faith.
God of Compassion,, hear the cries of the people of Syria and Iraq.Comfort those who suffer violence, console those who mourn the dead.Give strength to all who welcome the refugees.Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms and protect those who are committed to peace.God of hope, inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with their enemies.Fill us with compassion for the people of Syria and Iraq and give us hope for a future built on justice for all. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Light of the world.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Deacon Frances to be an Honorary Minor Canon of Southwark Cathedral

The Revd Deacon Frances Hiller has been invited to be an Honorary Minor Canon of Southwark Cathedral. This, as the title indicates, is an honorary position - we are not losing her from the diocese. Deacon Frances continues to serve as my chaplain, supporting my work in the Diocese in Europe. But this is wonderful recognition of her ministry as a deacon given by her London home, Southwark Cathedral.

Many congratulations, Frances!

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Reverend Mary-Ellen Dolan: new priest in Málaga

The Reverend Mary-Ellen Dolan has arrived in Spain to take up the post of priest-in-charge of Málaga. She comes from being Interim Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd and St John the Evangelist, Milford, PA, USA. Her new responsibilities took effect from, Monday 1 September.

Mary-Ellen, an Irish citizen and a priest for 19 years, comes to this diocese with a rich and varied experience. She has served the (US) Episcopal Church's parishes in Wiesbaden, Germany and Waterloo, Belgium. She continues to serve as Secretary of the Francophone Network of the Anglican Communion, having worked for many years in Francophone Africa. Besides her formal training for priestly ministry she is also trained in spiritual direction. And in addition Mary-Ellen also has professional qualifications in psychiatric nursing, which might be a useful skill for anyone in ministry!

A service of licensing will take place on  Friday 19 September 2014 at 12 noon in St George's Church, led by the Acting Archdeacon, the Revd Canon Geoffrey Johnston.

We welcome Mary-Ellen to this diocese.

The parish of Málaga includes the historic Church of St George in Málaga city and daughter congregations, particularly Vélez Málaga.

St George's Málaga