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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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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

We mourn the passing of two pioneering leaders of our diocese

This has been a sad week in the Diocese in Europe. Two great pioneers of our work, one in Finland, and the other in Poland died in the last couple of days. 

Mr Geoffrey Phillips receiving the Maundy Money in Westminster Abbey

Mr Geoffrey Phillips died on 16 November after a long struggle with cancer. He served the Anglican Church in Finland for many years as a Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) in particular supporting the work of the English speaking congregation in Turku where he lived. He was an enthusiastic promotor of the Porvoo Agreement, and our good relations in Turku are due, in no small measure, to the respect with which he was held by our Church in Finland partners over the 25 years of the Agreement. 

He was generous in every way to the Anglican work in Finland, and we thank God for his faithful and loving ministry, and for his kind consideration of the future of our work there. The Chaplain of St Nicholas Helsinki and Area Dean for Finland, the Revd Tuomas Mäkipää writes: 

"It is with great sadness that I must share the news of Geoffrey’s death. He died yesterday after fighting cancer for two years. Geoffrey will be remembered for his welcoming smile, friendship and patience; for his services to the Diocese in Europe and Anglican Chaplaincy in Finland as Licensed Reader and benefactor. He received the Royal Maundy from the Queen in 2011.

Geoffrey was an active member of the Turku Cathedral International Congregation until very recently, occasionally preaching, preparing the prayers of intercession and assisting at the Holy Communion. He and his wife Meg made a large donation to the Diocese in Europe and the Chaplaincy in Finland. He did not wish the donation to be anonymous but did not asked for great publicity either: after serving the Anglican Church for years, he was also concerned for her future well-being.

Geoffrey’s funeral service is at the Ylösnousemuskappeli (Chapel of Resurrection) in Turku on Thursday at 2 p.m (GMT+2). There is no gathering after the service due to current restrictions. Instead of flowers, donations to cancer research are suggested."

Geoffrey is survived by his wife Meg.

Fr Bob Gamble presiding in Krakow

And yesterday we learned that the Revd Robert Gamble, a retired priest in Poland, died. Fr Bob, as he was known, laid the foundation for our present work in Warsaw, and indeed in what has become officially recognised and registered in the country as "The Anglican Church in Poland". Fr Bob was an Episcopalian, originally from Philadelphia. His love for Poland developed long before the fall of the iron curtain. He was held in great esteem in the country, particularly in the city of Poznan where he lived, for his work in communications, social outreach and publishing. (He brought the Harry Potter saga to Poland). 

The Revd David Brown the Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Poland wrote yesterday: 

"Fr Bob died earlier this morning, very peacefully, in a Poznan hospital. His closest relative is his son Dominic in Texas in  the United States. Bob has been a great friend to the Chaplaincy here in Poland for more than 20 years  He has given so much  to many, many people in his life and has always  had a great, warm, generous, giving heart for the needy, the vulnerable and those experiencing difficulties in their lives."   


O God, your mercies are more than we can know; hear our prayers for your servants Geoffrey and Robert; and welcome them into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of all your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Tuesday, 3 November 2020

St Martin de Porres, USA, Social Justice


Today is the commemoration of St Martin de Porres, a Dominican friar, born in Lima, Peru in 1579, of a Spanish nobleman and a freed African slave. Because of his care for all regardless of class or colour he is considered the patron saint of race relations and social justice. Perhaps a fitting saint to be celebrated on this election day in the USA.

There are many US citizens who live and work in this diocese (including a number of our clergy). Almost all I have spoken to have eagerly taken advantage of mail-in voting and have exercised their democratic right. We pray today for the USA, in the words of a collect from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church: 

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and the nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In another connection with our circumstances today, St Martin de Porres, during an epidemic in Lima, broke the rules of the convent to minister and care for the sick who were kept behind locked doors. He was disciplined by superiors, but responded: "Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity" 

The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar is twinned with the Anglican Diocese of Peru. 

St Martin de Porres died on this day in 1639.

God, you aroused in Martin de Porres a sense of Christian social conscience to help the poor and needy. Let this same sense of social justice flourish in us, in our nations, and in our world today, to bring about a new rebirth of hope. 


Monday, 2 November 2020

Ecumenical outreach to the needy in Lanzarote

St Laurence's, Lanzarote

A plan to take advantage of a travel corridor still open between the UK and the Canary Islands has been cancelled: a visit to the chaplaincy of St Laurence, Lanzarote, on 14-15 November. Last Saturday night new English lockdown arrangements effective from 5 November were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnston. Travel within the country and abroad is now not possible, unless considered essential. So, sadly, Lanzarote is added to the growing pile of cancelled pastoral visits dating back to last March. The chaplain, the Revd Canon Stan Evans was very understanding. 

In Lanzarote the mission of the chaplaincy to reach out to the lost and marginalised on the island has been growing. Fr Stan is working with his Roman Catholic colleague, Fr Agustin Lasso, to look at ways to work together to serve the 600 families who are in desperate need on the island, reaching out "with the compassion of Christ as so many are hurting or are bruised at this time". There was bountiful and generous support in the parish's recent harvest festival which will greatly help this joint mission. "Together we can do so much more than apart".

Clearly, many things are cancelled because of COVID-19; but across the diocese, love and compassion are not among them! 




Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Celebrating Holy Paradox

Syrian Orthodox Church, SE Turkey

Dr Clare Amos, the Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship, has written a wonderful reflection on the forthcoming feast of All Saints. She reflects on "the intrincally paradoxical nature of our faith": 

All Saints Day is actually the celebration of the ridiculous paradox that WE are ‘all saints’, at least potentially, even if honesty forces us to admit that it doesn’t always seem like that in the present. In fact if we (mistakenly) put our focus on ‘All Saints Day’ on the great and traditional saints of the church’s history – we miss the meaning of the Feast.   

Clare also draws on the Syriac tradition in the Christian Church, which has significan roots in the far south east of this Diocese in Europe.    

You can find the full article on the Faith in Europe blog which can be found here:  https://faithineurope.net/

The Faith in Europe blog is but one part of Clare's work, and is valuable for all preachers and others who wish to reflect, week by week, on the lectionary readings, from a European perspective. 

 

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Prayer for Nigeria

One of the joys of life in the Diocese in Europe is its multicultural make-up. In this great mosaic of peoples, Nigerian Anglicans are among the largest groups of members. They are also among the most joyful in their faith. 

These are worrying days for the Nigerians in Europe. Events in their homeland are alarming and many are worried for the safety of family and friends. Yesterday, Bishop Robert and I sent a letter to our clergy and to the Nigerian members of our diocese, to unite us in prayer for their troubled country. 

Here is the letter:




  

Friday, 23 October 2020

Observing safety protocols, a joyful confirmation service is still possible

One of the few country travel corridors still open to a London resident like me, where quarantine is not needed upon entry or return, is Germany. So on 12 September, a confirmation service, delayed from last May was finally able to be celebrated in All Saints Cologne. 

With 16 candidates it was one of the largest confirmations held in the parish since the mid 1960s. It was necessary, by German regulations, to restrict the numbers in church for the mass, which meant that besides the candidates, only close family members could attend, which was a disappointment for so many in the chaplaincy of Bonn and Cologne who would have wanted to be present. 

Nevertheless, it was a wonderful celebration. But a few modifications were required to keep everyone as safe as possible:


The congregation and ministers were masked, except for presidential prayers and preaching, when there was ample physical distancing.


Cotton wool, changed for each candidate, was used for the anointing with Holy Chrism. Doors to the outside kept open to permit the circulation of fresh air.


The laying on of the bishop's hand is an essential part of the sacrament of confirmation, so an acolyte well rehearsed in managing sanitizing spray for my hand betwen each candidate was absolutely essential. Probably not something covered in the usual servers' training manuals! 


Movement in the liturgy was kept to a minimum, with family groups allowed to move together for the giving of the candles, for instance, keeping a good distance between them and other individuals or groups. 


The reception was in the open air, again with family groups kept together and distanced from other groups and individuals. 

Of course we missed some of the usual features of a confirmation service: a packed church, congregational singing, the procession to the font, the sprinkling with water, and the reception of Holy Communion under both kinds, but even in these troubling times, with due care, the celebration of faith continues in God's holy Church. 

May God grant continued protection to the candidates and guide their steps in their life in Christ.


Photos courtesy of Reiner Knudsen

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Happy Thanksgiving, Joyeux Jour de l'Action de Grâce



Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians in the Diocese in Europe, and to Canadian friends and relatives everywhere!

As Canadians come together with grateful hearts for all the blessings we have received, let us pray for the needs of our world, especially for all those who are victims of war, abuse, racial injustice, alienation and disease. May the strength of our prayers open up avenues of healing, comfort and radical changes in the systems that keep people oppressed. 
If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough - Meister Eckhart

Photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash

Friday, 2 October 2020

New deacons told "You do not know where you'll end or what a blessing you could become!"

On 26 September, 3 new deacons were ordained in All Saints Rome:Professor Dr Gottlieb Leopold Martin George, to serve as assistant curate (NSM) in St George’s Anglican Church, Berlin;  Robert Rushforth Morley, to serve as assistant curate (NSM) in All Saints Anglican Church, Milan; and Dr Valdis Teraudkalns, to serve as assistant curate (NSM) in St Saviour’s Anglican Church, Riga.
 
The congregation had to be limited by Italian regulations to 60, and many of the close family and friends of the ordinands were unable to attend due to distance and travel limitations in the pandemic situation, but finally, after a three month delay, and finding a place where both I as ordaining bishop and the candidates could all be together (ordinations cannot be virtual!), we were able to proceed with this joyful occasion in the life of the Diocese and the Church. 
 
 

Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and former Archbishop and Primate of the Indian Ocean, was able to participate with me in the rite, presenting one of the candidates, and delivering to them the copy of the New Testament, following the laying on of hands. 
 
Besides our own diocesan officials, the Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, and the Diocesan Registrar, there were significant ecumenical presence, which helped to signify that although this was a Church of England service, it was in fact an event within the life of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Among the ecumenical guests were the Revd Matthew Laferty, the Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome (I have known Pastor Laferty from Moscow and Vienna) and the Revd Fr Robert McCulloch, the Procurator General of the Missionary Society of St Columba, and a Consultor to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.  
 
The Revd Robert Warren, the Chaplain of All Saints Rome, was the preacher for the occasion. Fr Robert and his team (which included Chaja Verkerk, Ministry Experience Scheme Intern) were generous hosts for the event, having been given only very short notice that they were to hold this diocesan service.
 
In his sermon, Fr Robert encouraged the new deacons to be strong in faith for the uncertain days and years ahead: 
 
"We have come to know with certainty this last six months, that there is no certainty, that events intervene, that underrated skills become crucially and suddenly important. The health emergencies of the recent past may continue. Political emergencies of the quite immediate future may dwarf what we have seen in the past six months. There is economic uncertainty surrounding the daily work of our parishioners – how they earn their crust.  These along with the economic uncertainty facing the church will undoubtedly change the question “what will these three men do?” and “what will be their legacy in the economy of God?”
...Be good curates where you’re sent.  But be good soldiers in battles as yet unseen. You are being ordained with the greatest certainty that you are people of good repute. That you are wise people.  That you have amassed about you a degree of circumspection, of knowledge of how people tick, that you are capable of knowing your place within structures, that you can work on a team where there will be people in your charge and where you are in the charge of others.  But you are being picked out as people who have an acquaintance with the ways of the Spirit. You are being ordained not only in the certainty of what we believe we know, but in the hope that you will be up to the challenges of the Spirit of God in an age the exigencies of which we cannot possibly imagine.You’ve been told where you are going to start.  The future is outside our reach and outside yours. You do not know where you’ll end and what a blessing you could become".  
We pray for Valdis, Martin and Robert, on entering the sacred order of deacon as a vital step on their journey, if God wills, to be priests. May they indeed be a blessing to God's Church. 
 

Photos courtesy of Chaja Verkerk
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 14 September 2020

A Creationtide workshop, sponsored by Christ Church Vienna

In this season of Creationtide, Christ Church Vienna is hosting a relevant workshop on the morning of Saturday 19 September. The workshop will be led by Dr Clare Amos, the Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship, a biblical scholar and world class lay theologian. Dr Amos will draw on both the Old and New Testaments to explore our relationship to the created order. Environmental issues and a commitment to safeguard the integrity of creation is one of the key themes of the diocesan strategy. 

Previous workshops by Clare have been heavily subscribed, so if you are interested please contact Christ Church Vienna (office@christchurchvienna.org) by Thursday 17 September to reserve your place! Please note that the times are Central European Time, (British Summer Time +1 hour).


Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Camino Chaplaincy priest asks for prayers for justice and peace in Kenosha

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

On 23 August in Kenosha, Wisconsin, police shot an African American, Jacob Blake, in the back, at close range, several times, in front of his 3 sons. Mr Blake has survived, but may be paralysed from the waist down. Public officials are calling for a thorough investigation of the shooting, and a reckoning with the broader issues of racial injustice.  

Meanwhile protests have been seen in Kenosha in the aftermath of this event; sadly some of these protests have turned violent and destructive. One of our locum clergy who is connected to the Camino Chaplaincy (in Santiago de Compostela), the Revd Fr Matthew Buterbaugh is the Rector of St Matthew's Episcopal Church, a parish in downtown Kenosha, close to the centre of the unrest. Fr Matthew has been in communication with Fr Bob Bates, our Lead Chaplain for the Camino Chaplaincy, who has been circulating requests for prayer for Kenosha. Fr Matthew says "I greatly appreciate that, and I am heartened to be a part of the diocesan community in Europe, who are reaching out and praying. I, and a number of interfaith clergy, marched in a peaceful protest earlier yesterday [Monday] evening, before things became more heated overnight. Please do pray for justice and peace in our time". 

Fr Matthew reports that they have had to board up some windows in the Church office on account of the vandalism. However, he stresses, "I continuously remind people in this time that buildings and windows can be replaced, but human lives cannot." 

It has been barely three months since the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our Diocese marked that event with a prayer service for racial justice on 13 June. 

Pray for healing for Jacob Blake, for justice to be served in his case, and for peace in Kenosha.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Dean Emeritus Ken Robinson RIP

Today I will be representing the Diocese at the funeral of Dean Emeritus Robinson. Please remember Fr Ken in your prayers, and his widow Merry and their family.

O Lord, may Ken your servant and priest, who devoted a faithful ministry to your name, rejoice in the company of your saints. 

 

 

The notice from the Church Times:

ROBINSON. — On 5 August, the Very Revd John Kenneth Robinson: Chaplain of HM Prison Lancaster (1965-66); St John’s School, Singapore (1966-68); Vicar of Holy Trinity, Colne (1968-71); Chaplain of St George’s, Grenada (1971-74); Director of Education, Windward Islands (1971-74); Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of the Windward Islands (1971-74); Vicar of Skerton (1974-81); USPG Area Secretary for East Anglia (1981-91); Hon. Minor Canon of St Edmundsbury Cathedral (1982-91); Chaplain of St George’s, Lisbon, with St Paul’s, Estoril (1991-2000); Archdeacon of Gilbraltar (1994-2002); Canon of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Gibraltar (1994-2000); Dean (2000-03); aged 83.

Friday, 7 August 2020

The Very Revd Ken Robinson, RIP

 

It is with sadness that I share the news across the diocese that the Very Revd Ken Robinson died last Wednesday evening, 5 August, after a long illness. Fr Ken had served this diocese with distinction, first as Chaplain of St George's Lisbon with St Paul's Estoril, then as Archdeacon of Gibraltar, and finally as Dean of Gibraltar. He retired from that position in 2003, and was named Dean Emeritus.

Ken was widely loved in the diocese, and contributed greatly to building a sense of family among us, making the Cathedral a particularly warm and welcoming place. He has many friends across the diocese, in the wider Church of England, and even in the Windward Islands where he once served as Director of Education. It was Dean Robinson who officially installed me in the stall of St Andrew in the Cathedral, shortly after my consecration, inaugurating my own close connection to the Cathedral.

Fr Ken's wife Merry told me that despite being ill for several months, he died at peace, having received the last rites. 

Father we pray for the soul of Ken, your servant and priest, that he, who devoted a faithful ministry to your name, may rejoice in the perpetual company of your saints.