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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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.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Stop Slavery Dallas!

Local and international dimensions of the Church's ecumenical justice ministry came together at an event at St Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas on Saturday 18 April. St Michael's had been hosting meetings of the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome (ACR) and the American Friends of the ACR. Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Director of the ACR and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See, took a key role in the event which was a symposium on human trafficking. Archbishop David is well known to this diocese, of course, not only in Rome and Italy, but from his presentation to our Diocesan Synod last year.

Abp Moxon, 2nd from rt

Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis are committed to working together with other ecumenical and inter-faith partners to fight human trafficking and modern slavery. Archbishop Moxon in his role as Director of the ACR devotes a significant amount of his time to promoting this ecumenical initiative. It is estimated that around 38 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery which takes many forms from forced labour and prostitution to organ trafficking.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas and the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, together with St Michael's parish organised the symposium. Over 300 people came to participate and to hear Archbishop Moxon. With him on the panel were local leaders who are working on the issue of human trafficking/modern slavery, a human rights worker from local family services, the anti-trafficking coordinator from the police department, an immigration lawyer and a former US ambassador who has established an organisation to restore and empower formerly trafficked girls and women. It was an impressive coming together of perspectives from the global level and the commitment to activity at the local level.

I was able to have conversations with some young Episcopalian students who are organising within their own university on this issue and have convinced the authorities only to buy and sell clothing on campus, including the extensive range of official sportswear one finds in a US university, which is "slavery free". I encouraged them to link to the global movement to combat modern slavery which is supported by the ACR, to see if Anglican young adults in other places could take similar initiatives.



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.