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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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Our Lady of Peace - a symbol of the international welcome at St Philip and St James, Palma de Mallorca

The Anglican Chaplaincy in Mallorca, Spain, has three congregations based in Palma, Puerto Pollensa and Cala d’Or. On Sunday 15 October I was able to visit the congregation in Palma for the Sunday Eucharist.

The Church in Palma is dedicated to St Philip and St James. Icons of these two apostles are on either side of another icon of  Our Lady of Peace. In this icon Our Lady is surrounded by the heads of 9 children, representing the traditional ethnic groups of humanity. It is a fitting symbol for this international all-age congregation. 

Parishioners at the coffee hour
It was a joy to visit for the Sunday eucharist, especially as I learned from the Chaplain the Revd David Waller that there was to be a Church Council meeting following, at which there was only routine business, and it was not necessary for me to attend!

Church Council

Saturday, 21 October 2017

HG Bishop Angaelos brings a message of hope at the Coptic Nayrouz Service

On 17 October 2017 at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, the annual Coptic New Year (Nayrouz) celebrations were held, at which, His Grace Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church in the UK presided and preached.

His Grace Bishop Hovakim of the Armenian Apostolic Church
It is an important annual event in London, with significant ecumenical and inter-faith dimensions. The martyrs of the Church in the Middle East are always commemorated, but increasingly it has become an important moment when religious and political leaders from across UK society come together to pray for those around the world who are oppressed because of their religion. Thus addresses were given by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, members of parliament, and government ministers. Messages were read from HRH The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister of the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I had the honour of reading the message sent from Her Majesty the Queen.

In his powerful sermon, HG Bishop Angaelos said of religious freedom, and the martyrdom of so many who are denied that freedom: "If God respects humanity enough to empower us all with a freedom of choice, who are we to decide who has the right to believe or not believe? The Christian message has as its ultimate strength, the ability with which it can consciously and actively love and even forgive those who not only persecute, but kill us. That is what sets this apart. It is not because we are better than anyone else but because it is what we are called to do.” 

His Grace went on to say, "The gathering in this church this evening resembles the beautiful mosaic that is British life; from religious leaders to political leaders, social activists and human rights defenders, to members of the general public, we all work together. Together we should use whatever platform or gift we have to further this message. It is a tragedy if we feel there is nothing we can do, because the reality is that there is never a darkness that cannot be broken by the slightest light, and there is never a problem that cannot be addressed even if not fully resolved.”

So we continue to pray for all who suffer religious persecution and as we gather year by year, there may be signs of improvement around the world, and "less to regret and forgive, and more to celebrate and be joyful about".

Our Diocese was also well represented at this service by Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith and my Chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, both well known to HG Bishop Angaelos.

Diocesan Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith
Deacon Frances Hiller

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi is welcomed at All Saints Rome

Fr Marcus and Archbishop Bernard
I took advantage of being in Rome for ecumenical meetings to invite the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See, to preach at All Saints on Sunday 8 October. Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi has already begun his work at the Anglican Centre, of which I am a governor, and will be formally inaugurated in his new post by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the 26 October.

Archbishop Bernard has been a friend for many years as he served as Primate of the Province of Burundi as well as on the Anglican Consultative Council during the time when I was on the Anglican Communion staff. The Sunday celebration in All Saints was a wonderful opportunity to introduce Archbishop Bernard and his wife Mathilde to the congregation, itself a very international community.  All Saints parish will make them both welcome in the years ahead and will support Archbishop Bernard's vitally important ecumenical role.

Fr Marcus Walker, the Deputy Director of the Anglican Centre, well known already to All Saints, was the Deacon for the mass.

Some of the Sunday School welcome Archbishop Bernard
There were some surprising coincidences at the service that day. At All Saints there is a custom at the end of the Eucharist to ask visitors to introduce themselves and say where they are from. One couple, visiting from Ottawa, are in a parish where one of the priests was once a student of Archbishop Bernard back in Burundi. Another couple were from my former Diocese of Niagara, David and Jean Archbell. They were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in Rome. You can imagine their surprise when they turned up at All Saints and found that the one presiding was the person who, when just a curate, had prepared them for marriage 35 years ago! We agreed that none of us has changed over those years!

It seems it is true that "all roads lead to Rome".

The Archbells

Friday, 6 October 2017

Italy and Malta Synod - energised by faith

Archdeacon Vickie Sims introduces Ian Carter, Diocesan Safeguarding Manager
"Energised by Faith" was the theme of the recent Synod of the Archdeaconry of Italy and Malta. From 27 - 30 September the clergy and lay representatives of the Archdeaconry met in Villa Sacro Cuore, outside Milan for their annual sessions, under the presidency of Archdeacon Vickie Sims.

Dr Clare Amos, Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship
Dr Clare Amos, the Director of Lay Discipleship led the bible studies on the Transfiguration and the Emmaus stories. Using many images of these biblical events and quotes from poets and theologians, she helped the synod delve into the rich mystery of these accounts. We explored how the Transfiguration is a lens through which we can perceive the truth of the Gospel today. Quoting Martin Eggleton, Clare said, "Transfiguration does not do away with what is, it changes one's perception of it, heightens it, enables it to be something revered, not in a magical sense, but with true awe. This is what happened on the mountain wide when the disciples had their transfiguring experience with Jesus." With regard to the Emmaus story, Clare said "these two travellers are you and I; they are the church walking with Christ the long road of history".

Clare also led an introductory session on discipleship in the Diocese in Europe. She reflected on how aspects and descriptions of the Blessed Sacrament, which is of course central to our lives as Christians, can underline aspects of our discipleship vocation:
Community  -  "Communion"
Worship - "Eucharist" (= thanksgiving)
Mission - "Mass"
Learning - "Lord's Supper"

Dr Pemberton Ford
In other business, the Revd Dr Carrie Pemberton Ford, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking, addressed the synod on this vital matter, which touches upon our diocese, particularly with the increased migration of peoples from the Global South.

In other business, Ian Gibson and Tola Hummel from the Diocesan Safeguarding team were on hand to give updates on the Safeguarding agenda which is central to our diocesan life, and to have valuable informal discussions with synod members. Archdeacon Sims led a session on some essential parish administration and governance questions and chaired reporting sessions from the congregations across Italy and Malta.

Assistant Safeguarding Manager Tola Hummel with Synod Member Una Scaletta
Locum priests in our diocese (and we have over 200 on our locum list) offer a vital ministry in so many places, during an interregnum, for holiday cover as well as staffing some of our congregations which have only seasonal ministry, or which have a pattern of using a permanent rota of visiting clergy. Three locum priests serving in the Archdeaconry came and presented on their experience of their work and gave valuable insight as well as advice, on how the ministry of locums can be made even more welcome and how the gifts and experience of locum priests can be better used.

Locum priests Ed Hanson, Richard Gowty, and Derek Goddard,

Thursday, 5 October 2017

HRH The Prince of Wales at St Paul’s Valletta

HRH The Prince of Wales paid a special visit to St Paul’s Pro Cathedral in Malta on Wednesday 4 October. It was an opportunity for him to review the restoration work on the Cathedral, to which the Prince has made a generous personal contribution. (The total restoration appeal is for €3 million). The Chancellor of the Pro Cathedral, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, gave Prince Charles a tour of St Paul’s itself, a building which owes its origins in 1844 to the Prince’s own ancestor, Queen Adelaide.

His Royal Highness then officially opened the newly refurbished undercroft of the Cathedral which is now to serve as a place of welcome for the many visitors to Valletta as well as an educational centre. The opening ceremony which included a formal blessing of the undercroft, also included prayers for two other events in Malta which Prince Charles will be taking part: the “Our Ocean” conference which aims to empower a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists and civil society to identify solutions and commit to actions for clean and sustainably managed oceans; and the 75th anniversary of the awarding of the George Cross by King George VI to the people of Malta for their bravery and heroism during the siege of Malta in World War II.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Another new congregation in the diocese, St Albert of Trapani, Randazzo

St Albert of Trapani is a Sicilian saint from the 13th century, a Carmelite, widely known for his preaching and miraculous healings. He is also the patron of one of this Diocese's newest developing congregations. I was able to visit this congregation, located in the town of Randazzo on the slopes of Mount Etna, for the first time recently. I was accompanied by the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, Vickie Sims. The occasion was the Feast of the Holy Cross. It was a warm and enthusiastic gathering. The mass was according to Common Worship, but in Italian. Archdeacon Vickie served as the deacon of the mass and also translated my homily for the assembled worshippers. It was televised by a local station! Visitors joined us from the Anglican congregations in Rome and Taormina.

The priest is the Revd Giovanni La Rosa, who was received into the communion of the Church of England at the Chrism mass last March. He has been mentored by clergy of the Archdeaconry and continues his journey deeper into the Anglican tradition, according to the norms of the Diocese. I was pleased to offer a special blessing for Fr Giovanni for his ministry among the faithful of St Albert of Trapani.
Il Signore ti conceda  la gioia di presiedere e di servire fedelmente, in comunione con il tuo Vescovo e con il tuo Arcidiacono, la comunità italiana anglicana: Annuncia la parola di Dio, Celebra la grazia di Dio testimoniando la carità di Cristo. Amen
The Lord grant you the joy of presiding and serving faithfully. In communion with your bishop, your archdeacon, and the Italian Anglican community, proclaim the Word of God, and celebrate the grace of God, bearing witness to the love of Christ. Amen. 
St Albert of Trapani with his copy of Common Worship!
There are several communities of Anglicans who worship in Italian across the Archdeaconry. This is a relatively new development, to provide such ministry to Anglicans where it is requested whilst maintaining our clear position and policy, that we do not engage in proselytism of Christians from other traditions but work with our sister Churches wherever we are with ecumenical solidarity and commitment.

After the mass in Randazzo there was a convivial community meal of pizza, local wine and some delicious Sicilian desserts. The congregation, made up of people of all ages, seemed to feel uplifted by the visit, judging from a quote from the parish website: "the visit of the bishop reminds us that our community is part of the great family of the Church of Jesus, following in the Anglican tradition. We thank the Lord for this pastoral visit and confirmed in faith we continue our path in the Anglican way, with conviction and enthusiasm".

Padre Giovanni
I, too, was heartened by the warmth, the faith, the commitment and the palpable love of this congregation. Pray for its continual growth and development.

The feast day of St Albert of Trapani is 7 August. The collect for the feast:
Lord God,
you made Saint Albert of Trapani
a model of purity and prayer,
and a devoted servant of Our Lady.
May we practise these same virtues
and so be worthy always
to share the banquet of your grace.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Greater Lisbon Chaplaincy is a warm home for people from around the world

The Greater Lisbon Chaplaincy consists of 2 congregations, St George's Lisbon, and St Paul's Estoril. Together they serve the English-speaking community in the Greater Lisbon area, and the members are a diverse community from around around the world. Anglican worship in Lisbon can be dated back to 1654!

I visited the chaplaincy on the weekend of 2 - 3 September. It was an excellent opportunity to meet with the Church Council and with a wide range of parishioners and to see how the new priest, the Revd Dr Frank Sawyer, and the chaplaincy were forming an excellent relationship with an encouraging and renewed common vision for the future emerging. (Fr Frank is, ahem, a fellow alumnus of Trinity College Toronto!). During my visit I met parishioners from every continent, except Antarctica.

Children make their First Communion
Fr Frank is ably assisted by two honorary assistant priests, the Revd Paula Rennie, and the Revd Frances Le Blanc. During the Sunday Eucharist I was also able to authorise João Soares as a Congregational Worship Leader, to be part of the ministry team. The Sacrament of Confirmation was also celebrated and Fr Frank used the festive occasion to admit some young children to Holy Communion.

João Soares authorised as a Worship Leader

Fr Frank Sawyer with parishioners originally from Pakistan

Friday, 22 September 2017

7 Interim ministers trained

Seven priests have just completed training to be interim ministers at a programme led by the Director of Ministerial Development, the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, and the Archdeacon of Gibraltar the Ven. Geoff Johnston.

Interim ministers are a fairly new concept to the Church of England and are deployed in churches during a vacancy  to provide some transitional ministry where there has been a period of conflict or other parochial challenge. Thus, interim ministers are rather different from the normal locum priests who cover periods of interregnum, but who are there to simply "keep the show on the road". In contrast, interim ministers are given a specific brief by the relevant bishop and archdeacon, to work with the parish on some particular transitional matters, some often quite serious, in order to prepare it to welcome and work with a future permanent appointment. The Revd Molly Smith, a trainer with the US-based Episcopal Church’s Interim Ministry Network gave key leadership for our own diocesan training programme.

“This is an exciting and pioneering project,” Archdeacon Geoff said. “Interim ministry is really taking off and it is great to know that the Diocese in Europe is the first in the Church of England to offer this kind of professional training programme. “The fact that there are so many priests who are interested in developing their ministry in this way augurs well for the future.”

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Susan Boyd is admitted and licensed as a Reader to serve in Trondheim

The Revd April Almaas presents Susan to be admitted to the office of Reader
At one of the eucharists at the Nordic and Baltic Deanery synod, I admitted Susan Boyd to the office of Reader and licensed her for that ministry in the Anglican Church in Norway. Her ministry will be exercised mostly in Trondheim where she lives. The Revd April Almaas, our priest in Trondeim presented Susan for admission to this lay ministerial office.

Susan now joins a colleague Reader in Trondheim, Priscilla Beck, who works together with Mtr April in caring for our congregation there. The Revd Darren McCallig will soon become the Senior Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Norway, and will be based in Oslo. He will oversee the clergy and people in the daughter congregations of Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim.

(L to R) The Revds Darrem McCallig, April Almaas, Nick Howe, Kirk Weisz and Archdeacon Colin Williams with new Reader Susan Boyd
It was a splendid occasion as the service was held in the ancient Stavanger Cathedral, with music provided by the cathedral girls' choir.

Synod members after the licensing eucharist

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Children and the Kingdom: Theme of Nordic and Baltic Deanery Synod

Area Dean for the Nordic and Baltic Deanery, the Revd Nick Howe
Extending from Iceland to Estonia, the Nordic/Baltic deanery must be one of the most extensive in the Anglican world. Its synod, over which Area Dean Nick Howe presided, was recently held in Stavanger in SW Norway. Besides the usual business of deanery synod, this year the members looked at aspects of children's ministry. Technology enabled the synod members to hear a presentation on this subject by Professor Haddon Willmer of the Child Theology Movement, and Tony Cook, the Head of Youth and Children's Work for the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Revd Peter Hogarth introduces Professor Willmer who joined the synod by Skype
One of the synod eucharists was celebrated in St Swithun's Cathedral. The bishopric of Stavanger was founded in 1125 by a missionary from Winchester, who brought with him relics from that city's most famous saint, St Swithun. The cathedral has been in continuous use for 900 years.

The Revd Bjarni Thor Bjarnason (of Iceland) in front of Stavanger Cathedral
The synod has a good representation of members of our church who are of minority ethnic background (that includes me, of course!). We decided to have a picture together after the mass in the Cathedral to demonstrate just how colourful the Church of England is!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Trondheim Anglicans (and a bishop) at the consecration of the new Bishop of Nidaros

On Sunday 10th September., in the ancient Cathedral of Nidaros, in the presence of HM King Harald of Norway and a packed congregation of over 1000, Herborg Oline Finnset was consecrated bishop of Nidaros (Trondheim).

I was among the bishops invited from the Porvoo Communion of Churches, along with colleague bishops from Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and of course Norway itself. The Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, was the chief consecrator. The service was in Norwegian of course, but with prayers, readings and hymns in South Sami, Swedish and English.

Presiding Bishop Helga places the pectoral cross on Bishop Herborg (photo by Ole Martin Wold) 
One distinctive feature of episcopal consecrations in many Nordic countries including Norway, is that the new bishop must preach the sermon at the consecration mass! Quite daunting as the first task, not least in front of the King and 1000 people in the Cathedral. Bishop Herborg spoke of grace, that the Church's role is to extend God's grace to all, grace which allow us to live for God and in service to each other.

King Harald greets Bishop Herborg after the Mass (photo by Ole Martin Wold)
Our Anglican congregation at the Høymesse (literally High Mass) for the consecration was represented by the Revd April Almaas, the priest, and Mrs Priscilla Beck, the Reader. The Anglican services are held each week, either in the Cathedral, or in the nearby Church of Our Lady, which is connected to the Cathedral.

Nidaros Cathedral is built over the burial site of Saint Olav, the king of Norway in the 11th century. It was completed sometime in the 13th century.

The procession out (Photo by Eivind Almaas)

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Fr William Lister re-licensed for Florence and Siena

Normally in our diocese the issuing of a licence happens in a priest's own congregation. Given the scattered nature of our diocese, however, this sometimes has to take place elsewhere, depending on the diary of a bishop or archdeacon who normally must preside at this brief, largely, legal rite.

As the Chaplain of St Mark's Florence (with St Peter's Siena), the Revd Fr William Lister, needed to have his license renewed for a further term, a recent visit to Rome provided the opportunity for me to invite him to journey south for this ceremony. This was able to be done before the icon of Christ the Light of the World in All Saints Church which was consecrated by Pope Francis when he visited our Anglican chaplaincy in Rome last February.

Fr Lister is also Area Dean of Italy and an Assistant Director of Ordinands in the diocese.