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.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Prayer for Ankara

St Nicholas, Ankara

There was shocking news today from Ankara. A barbaric attack on peaceful demonstrators has resulted in at least 86 deaths. Turkey is to hold national elections on 1 November, and the attack seems to be aimed at sowing a sense of insecurity and fear among the population as they approach the ballot boxes.

I spoke this morning to the locum priest currently serving in St Nicholas Church in Ankara, who was able to confirm that as far as he is aware, there have been no members of the parish affected directly. But everyone is vigilant. I was able to assure him of the prayers of the people of our diocese at this troubled time in the Turkish capital.

Loving God, welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and friends and all who mourn for them. Help those who are fearful and uncertain, and bless them with the knowledge of your steadfast love. Strengthen all who work for peace, justice and reconciliaiton among peoples in Turkey. And may the peace the world cannot give reign in all our hearts.


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Rachel Carnegie of Anglican Alliance visits Athens to learn of the refugee crisis there

The Revd Rachel Carnegie from Anglican Alliance visited Athens last Thursday. (Anglican Alliance is an organisation of the Anglican Communion that brings together Churches and Agencies of the Communion for coordinated relief, development and advocacy). Fr Malcolm Bradshaw took her to Victoria Square where they were joined by Captain Polis Pandelidis of the Salvation Army. Each day around 3,000 refugees gather in this central Athens square. Approximately thirty five percent are Syrians, others are from Iraq (Kurds), Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here they buy bus and train tickets from traffickers to continue their journey north to the border between Greece and FYRO Macedonia. Although the municipality is providing accommodation in a former Olympic Games sport centre on the edge of the city there is reluctance by the refugees to take up this opportunity because of the scramble for tickets for onward travel. They have no desire to stay in Greece. Rather, they anticipate spending only twenty four hours on the square. No toilet or washing facilities exist. Gastroenteritis is rampant especially among the children.

The young man in red in the above photo is a Kurd from Iraq. So far, the worst part of the journey, he declared, was the four mile sea crossing from Turkey to Lesvos. Here is his story as told recently to Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, our Senior Chaplain in Athens:
"We were held up in woodland by the shore because of rain and poor weather. When the weather changed the traffickers drove us like animals to the waiting dinghies. You can see the scratches and bruises on the arms and legs of the children. Forty to fifty adults and children were crowded onto a dingy built for ten people at the most. Fifty dinghies left that afternoon. The life jackets we bought from the traffickers proved to be fakes. Would do nothing in an emergency. The children were given arm bands and adult life jackets were sellotaped to their bodies.  I took responsibility for the outboard motor. We had barely sufficient petrol to complete the journey. Lesvos was so near yet seemed to take an age to arrive at. I had no knowledge of how to handle the dingy. That part of the journey was horrendous.’ 

Fr Malcolm and Captain Pandelidis discussed with Rachel what they have observed: a rush of assistance to meet the needs of the refugees but no co-ordination. Constant duplication occurs. The three discussed the long term needs. This issue of the refugees is here to stay. It will not end in a matter of weeks or months. They discussed the importance of holding onto and collecting resources for use when donations begin to flag. The Syrians perhaps are in a better position because they may attain amnesty in Europe and some financial resources. The most vulnerable may be other refugees, who may be considered to be economic migrants and who have little personal finance. These may be the ones who are unable to move on. The three also noted that the bitter Balkan winter which is now approaching. There is a need to prepare and distribute survival kits.

Fr Malcolm, Rachel and Captain Pandelidis heard how a coffee shop owner on the square made his toilets available on a regular basis, early in the morning for the refugees; an act of generosity and kindness. He was stopped by the police. Apparently he was infringing upon a law which declared it was illegal to give assistance to irregular migrants!

Rachel Carnegie's visit included time with the local Anglican Church, the Salvation Army and Apostoli, the welfare offices of the Greek Orthodox Church. the purpose of her visit was to explore how best Anglican Alliance could use its networking resources to support the Anglican Church in Athens and the Diocese of Europe in making a response to the needs of the refugees.

One possibility is a joint project between Apostoli and the Anglican Church to rent hotel rooms to provide a three night stay and medical support for families with sick children. A private donor has made money available to start such a programme. It will need further funding as will the other programmes discussed.

Us (formerly USPG) is coordinating the receipt of donations on behalf of the Diocese in Europe and the Anglican parishes in Europe on the front line of this crisis. If you are interested in contributing towards these needs, please visit the Us website here.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

First Priest-in-Charge of St Martín of Porres, La Palma

On September 24th the Venerable Geoff Johnston, Interim Archdeacon of Gibraltar installed and licensed the Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol as the first Priest-in-Charge of St Martín of Porres, La Palma. This is a new chapter in the life of this congregation,which, until recently, was a part of the Tenerife North chaplaincy based on the neighbouring island. Jennifer has been instrumental in the development of this work, including nurturing warm and collaborative relations with the local Roman Catholic clergy.

The licensing was a very joyous occasion and the newly formed congregation was joined by members of the two parishes in Tenerife, as well as friends from the UK and, significantly, four Roman Catholic colleague priests from La Palma, The Revd Doreen Cage came from the Málaga chaplaincy, so the Spanish mainland was also represented at this historic event.

The liturgy included the tradition of the new priest ringing the bell of the parish church. Don Domingo Guerra, one of the RC priests, handed Jennifer a broom, a symbol of San Martín de Porres who considered all work to be sacred, no matter how menial. I reckon it might also be the only Anglican congregation in the world dedicated to San Martín de Porres.

This saint was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579, of mixed Spanish and African / Native American heritage, his father being a Spanish nobleman and his mother a freed slave from Panama. He joined the Dominican order, at first only as a volunteer who had to perform the most menial of tasks, as at that time descendants of Africans and Indians were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. His feast day is 3 November. He is patron of barbers, and, not surprisingly, of those of mixed racial heritage!

Inside S.Martín de Porres 
The future looks very bright for this new parish. We look forward to the next chapter in the development of the work in La Palma, especially in collaboration with our ecumenical partners on the island. Jennifer's ministry presently includes working as a chaplain in the hospital in La Palma alongside another of her RC priest colleagues, who came to her licensing, Don Anselmo. She celebrates a monthly eucharist at the hospital. In addition to services at San Martín de Porres, there is also a monthly eucharist at the (wonderfully named) 17th century Church of Nuestra Señora de Bonanza in El Paso.

Nuestra Señora de Bonanza
The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar is a leading area for Church growth in the diocese. Besides St Martín de Porres on La Palma, other new congregations having been formed in recent years in such places as Costa Brava, Fuerteventura and Rabat.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Old Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants call for a unified political response to current refugee crisis

The following is a joint Statement released today by Bishop Christopher Hill, President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the Commission of the (Roman Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

CEC is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. So this is a statement from bodies that represent the vast majority of Christians in Europe.


Refugees getting food and blankets from Hungarian Interchurch Aid as they walk through a bitterly cold night near the Austrian-Hungarian border. © Paul Jeffrey/WCC/ACT Alliance 

2 October 2015

Unified political response needed to current migrant crisis

The European family of nations finds itself confronting a humanitarian crisis on a scale without precedent in its post-war history.  Civil war in Syria, widespread political instability in other areas of the Middle East and dire poverty in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa have forced upwards of two million people, many traumatised by war, others rendered hopeless by poverty, to seek asylum or the opportunity of a better life in Europe.  The migrant crisis has received wide media coverage, the political world has scrambled to find solutions, religious communities and civil society across the EU have responded with sometimes amazing warmth and generosity, especially to those whose need is greatest.  The crisis risks overwhelming us and the suffering of those looking to Europe for refuge, asylum and the opportunity of a better life risks becoming more acute - not least with the coming of winter - unless a political response, supported proportionately by all EU member states, is forthcoming.

Christian leaders across the continent have made their voices heard, pleading for humane treatment for migrants, asking the member states to be generous in their hospitality and pleading for solidarity across the Union in extending welcome to asylum seekers, with particular sensitivity to the most vulnerable, especially families with children and unaccompanied minors.  We, speaking as presidents of the two largest groupings of Christian communities within the European Union, renew our plea for a concerted, unified political response to the current migrant crisis and pledge the support of the Churches we represent by playing our part, at every level, from the local/parochial to the national, in embracing with generosity the twin challenges of welcoming brothers and sisters from beyond our territorial frontiers in desperate need and who turn to us for help, and of making them an integral part of the European society to which we belong.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Archdeacon Patrick Curran steps down as Archdeacon of the East

Fr Patrick and Lucille Curran

The Synod of the Archdeaconry of the East was held in Zabreb, Croatia, at the end of last week. Clergy and lay representatives come together from what is geographically the most extensive archdeaconry in the diocese, covering central Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, the Caucasus and all of Russia.

It is a tradition at this synod for members to bring an item from their own country or area to be auctioned to other members, with the proceeds going to a designated project. (There are usually some tempting items on the auction block - I bid for and won a very good bottle of Ouzo, one year, I recall).

After the traditional auction that ends the Synod of the Eastern Archdeaconry, Archdeacon Patrick Curran was presented with an icon of St Cyril and St Methodius as an expression of thanks from the congregations of the Archdeaconry for his long and dedicated service to them. Fr Patrick has been Archdeacon of this area for longer than I have been a bishop in this diocese, and was key to my own orientation back in 2002!

The icon is a fitting gift for Fr Patrick, given the area he has served as Archdeacon. St Cyril and St Methodius were brothers in the 9th century, from Thessalonica. Although Byzantine Greeks, it is clear that they also learned the tongue of the neighbouring Slavs, they translated much of the scriptures and the liturgy into what is now called Slavonic and evangelised many of the Slavic peoples of Europe. They are venerated by the Churches of the East and the West (in the Church of England, their Feast Day is 14 February). During Archdeacon Patrick's, new congregations were established, or dormant congregations revitalised, in Turkey, Armenia, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Poland and Crete. He leaves a legacy of a united and enthusiastic Archdeaconry, despite the challenges of geography and scant resources.

Father Patrick continues as Chaplain of Christ Church Vienna, but now steps down as Archdeacon of the East, and hands over this responsibility to Archdeacon Colin Williams. Archdeacon Patrick also received a framed map of Europe as a thank you from the Diocese.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Refugee crisis: some progress in the EU and some longer term plans emerging from the Anglican Alliance

Refugees seeking to cross from Greece to FYRO Macedonia
Some progress appears to have been made yesterday by EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels to address some aspects of the current refugee crisis. Nevertheless EU nations are far from united in their approach. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania voted against yesterday's proposals. The UK, while pledging further aid to assist agencies working with refugees in the camps in Turkey and the Middle East, has opted out of the plan to share in a relocation quota of refugees currently in Europe. But at least at the EU level some steps in the right direction have been agreed.

It is not a time to be complacent however. The agreement to distribute 120,000 refugees currently in Europe is vital (and to the shame of the UK we are not participating in this), but with up to 6000 arriving each day in Europe, mainly into Greece, in theory in as little as 20 days time there could be another 120,000 needing urgent relocation.

The proposals agreed yesterday in Brussels also aim to strengthen the control of EU borders. However we should not be blinded to the possibility that this may increase the activity of criminals engaged in the smuggling of asylum seekers. When I was with the CTBI (Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) delegation to Greece last week, a constant message we received from international agencies such as UNHCR, as well as from volunteers, local government and the refugees themselves, was that criminal smugglers will find new ways (and perhaps even more dangerous ways) to move people into Europe, extorting huge amounts of money from the asylum seekers for their services. So, if borders are to be tightened, safe, legal pathways into Europe for those who are fleeing for their safety and lives is also needed, else we will witness more criminal exploitation and tragic deaths. A priority must be the safety, dignity and human rights of those who are fleeing or who have fled conflict zones.

Bishop Angaelos, Moderator of CTBI, with UNCHR workers at the Greek-FYRO Macedonian border

Ms Cecilia Taylor-Camara, Secretary for Migration for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, with Afghan refugees in Athens
But here is some news of progress among the Churches' response:
The Anglican Alliance, the organisation based at the Anglican Communion Office which brings together those Churches and Church agencies of the Communion to work together on issues of justice, international aid and development, met earlier this week in Cardiff to review the situation in Europe. Our own Senior Chaplain in Athens, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw brought news of the situation in Greece. Us (formerly USPG) was in attendance at the meeting also. Us is the Church agency which is collaborating with the Diocese in Europe in our own response to the refugee crisis. (See http://www.weareus.org.uk/news/europe/).

I am pleased to report that at the meeting the Anglican Alliance and Us at the meeting mapped out preliminary plans to enhance our capacity to coordinate, prioritise, respond effectively and monitor the fast changing situation. The partners at the meeting are aware that although this is an acute crisis at present the refugee movement is likely to be a long-term issue. I am grateful for the collaboration we have with Us and for the coordination that Anglican Alliance is seeking to promote.

Rachel Carnegie and Isobel Owen from the Anglican Alliance flank Malcolm Bradshaw. Jill Rios from the Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre in Rome on right 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A thank you from the Archdiocese of Athens for help with their feeding programme

Archbishop Rowan Williams with Dr Constantine Dimtsas. Fr Malcolm Bradshaw to the right
The situation in Greece which preoccupied us until the focus moved recently to the refugee crisis was the hardship that so many of the population were facing as a result of the imposed austerity measures. People across the diocese will remember that our 2015 Lent Appeal raised funds to assist with these needs, via the partnership between St Paul's Athens (the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw) and Apostoli, the philanthropic organization of the Archdiocese of Athens.

A letter of appreciation has been received for our diocese's gift of £13,571.91 from the Lent appeal. Here are extracts from that letter sent by Dr Constantine Dimtsas, the Director General of Apostoli.

First of all, I wish to thank you for sending us this important donation through our local Anglican friends and fellow partners, Fr Malcolm Bradshaw and his Parish in Athens. With your precious contribution you  have demonstrated your acknowledgement of and appreciation to our work of providing material and moral assistance to some of the most vulnerable segments of our society, bewildered  by the lingering economic crisis that has befallen our country since 2010. 
The amount will be allocated to our action-programme "The Church Supports the  Large Families," which provides material support for large, multi-child families in the form of foodstuff parcels to be distributed to them once a month. Please note that this programme is one of the most important and most vital actions of Apostoli since large, multi-child families are severely hit by the crisis and these children are very vulnerable to the consequences of the crisis. No discrimination whatsoever is done as to the origin or the creed of the recipient family and  our assistance  is provided on the basis of demonstrated and certified need via a thorough process of checking.
Therefore, on behalf of more than 1.300 multi-child families who thankfully benefit from our programme-action, please accept my prayerful and cordial thanks for your diocese's precious support. Your generosity and love, combined with that of other Anglican parishes and Anglican individuals across Europe, enables our organization to distribute critical material assistance to help large multi-child families in order to meet their basic day-to-day needs. For this, we offer abundant thanks. May our gracious God bless you and your loving diocese and people.
Taking this opportunity please let me add this: In these critical times for Europe and the Christian Churches of this Continent your continuing support is a wonderful and moving example of Christian solidarity and love.

Friday, 18 September 2015

How can we put Matthew 25 into action across Europe?

The border crossing, Greece to FYRO Macedonia
'How can we put Matthew 25 into action across Europe?' This was the question that the delegation from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) discussed in a meeting with partners from the Greek Orthodox Church, Evangelical Churches, the UNHCR and the Anglican Chaplaincy. 'The church is the world's biggest NGO; and the preservation of human dignity for the refugees our common denominator', was one of the affirmations that underlined the strong role for the Churches in the midst of this crisis. 'We need to go back to our roots; if we are not caring for and loving our brothers and sisters, what is the point?'

Archimandrite Ignatios of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece
A powerful unity emerged during the meeting and a shared vision of working together to preserve human dignity and save lives. A future partnership is being forged dedicated to the spiritual and moral shared duties of protecting God given human rights.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland meet with UK Ambassador to Greece

Ambassador John Kittmer (2nd from right)
'I am shocked by the lack of interest from the UK. You are the first official group to visit Greece to learn more about the refugee crisis', said HE John Kittmer, the UK Ambassador to Greece.

The ambassador hosted a meeting on 15 September with delegates from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). He had just returned from the Greek islands where he witnessed the huge challenges facing Greece as about 5000 refugees arrive on these islands from Turkey each day. Yet the ambassador noted how the issue continues to be largely ignored and misreported despite this flow of refugees being the biggest crisis to hit Europe since the end of World War II. 

CTBI General Secretary Bob Fyffe (left)
CTBI is hearing a strong plea from those working on the ground in Greece to take a prophetic stand on the refugee issue. As the crisis grows in magnitude, CTBI will look closely at how to take bold action on behalf of the churches.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland delegation to Greece

On Tuesday our Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) delegation visited Eidomeni on the Greek/ FYRO Macedonian border.

We were the first group of UK clergy and lay leaders to see for themselves the impact of the refugee crisis in Greece.

'We saw incredible desperation in refugees who will take death boats as a means of escape from what is obviously a dire situation. But we also saw incredible dedication from those who serve them; many of whom are volunteers', said Bishop Angaleos, the Moderator of CTBI and General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Refugees crossing from Greece to FYRO Macedonia

So many moving encounters on the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I'm here with a delegation from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.  "Close the borders and you put refugees into the hands of mafia and smugglers" was the clear message we heard from UN workers, local politicians, volunteers, and the local police. A stern warning given what is taking place in Europe now.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Canon Barbara Moss passes the baton as Nordic/Baltic Area Dean to the Revd Nick Howe

The Nordic and Baltic Deanery of the Diocese in Europe covers 7 countries in the northernmost part of Europe. Lay and clergy delegates from our congregations in these countries (except for our reps from St Thorlak's. Reykjavik who sent regrets) gathered in Helsinki for their annual deanery synod to discuss business and to engage in some education on issues facing the Church.

A former member of the synod, the Revd Dr Mika Pajunen, who was the assistant curate at St Nicholas's Helsinki and who is now the Theological Secretary to the Archbishop of Turku, was given a warm welcome back as he came to give a presentation on paradigm shifts in the Church's history, as a way to help us understand how contemporary issues may be causing some division among Christians.

Synod members thank Dr Pajunen for his presentation
It was the last synod for Area Dean the Revd Canon Barbara Moss. Canon Moss retires from St Andrew's Gothenburg at the end of this year, but at this synod she handed over the work of Area Dean to her successor the Revd Nick Howe. The synod paid tribute to Barbara, who then responded with a song which conveyed her own affection for us in a very warm and humorous way.

The Revd Canon Barbara Moss
Canon Moss's farewell song to the synod
I commissioned Fr Nick Howe as Area Dean, who promptly took over the chairing of the remaining sessions.

New Area Dean Nick Howe with the Synod Secretary Pauline Bang 
The synodical life of this diocese are important gatherings, essential, of course, for the business of the Church to be transacted, and for a scattered Church to come together to show our unity in worship and to enable the clergy and lay leaders to engage in some study together, But also important is the chance to relax and enjoy each other's company. It is vitally important in maintaining a sense of belonging together even though scattered over thousands of kilometres.