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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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Message of condolence to the Church of the Ascension, Munich

Fr Steven Smith
Today I sent the message below to the Revd Steven Smith, the Rector of the Church of the Ascension in Munich. His parish, while Anglican, is part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, under their Bishop Pierre Whalon. Church of England and Episcopal congregations in Germany have a common life in what is rather like a joint deanery - the CAECG, the Council of Anglican-Episcopal Churches in Germany.

Please pray for our sisters and brothers in Munich and for Fr Steven and his community in Munich


Dear Father Steven

Yesterday across this Diocese in Europe people learned with horror and disbelief that the inhabitants of yet another European city were under attack, this time in the city you serve, Munich.

May I, on behalf of your brother and sister Anglicans from the Church of England congregations on the continent, express our deep sorrow at these recent killings of at least 9 persons. This Sunday in our services we will pray for the victims and for all who have been injured, and for all who mourn the death of their loved ones and friends. We pray that God will strengthen all who serve and minister to those affected, including you and your colleague priests and pastors in Munich.  We pray for the German authorities as they continue their investigation and for faith communities that they may draw together and not apart as a result of this atrocity.

May God's loving mercy embrace all who have died, and His comfort be felt by the injured and bereaved. And may God’s support and care be with all of you at this tragic time.

Barmherziger Herr, alle Völker sind das Werk Deiner Hände: Wende sie ab von Hass und aller Schlechtigkeit, wende sie stattdessen Dir zu, damit sie Deine Liebe erkennen. 

Your brother in Christ

Emmauskirche - the home of the Church of the Ascension, Munich

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Turkey: Attempted coup has failed but the aftermath is not over

"The attempted coup has failed but the aftermath is not over". This statement from contacts in Turkey seems to summarise the situation today after a night of upheaval, violence, gunfire, explosions and political and military action. The attempted coup was bloody. A couple of hundred people killed and over 1,000 injured, military and civilians.

I was in contact with our clergy in Turkey late into Friday night. They are all safe and there are no reports of casualties from among our parishioners. But all are keeping vigilant.

We pray for wisdom for the authorities and for understanding, restraint and a way forward that is just and serves the good of all the citizens of the country.

Grant O God your help to the people of Turkey. May there be justice and peace throughout the land. May those who rule and govern make wise decisions for the well-being of the country, protecting the rights of all and breaking down walls of hatred and distrust. Give eternal rest to those killed in the violence and grant safety and security to all. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Our prayers for the people of Nice

The Revd Peter Jackson

This morning the city of Nice and the nation of France is in mourning, once again, this time for the victims of the horrific attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

The Promenade is just a couple of hundred metres from our Church of the Holy Trinity. I spoke to the Revd Peter Jackson, the Chaplain this morning. Like so many, Fr Peter is in shock at these events. Last night he was enjoying the national festival, and attended a reception with the Mayor and Prefet, a warm family occasion. At the reception, ironically, honour and tribute was being paid to the those who work for the emergency services in the city. On return to the presbytery, he learned of the attacks close by. One Churchwarden narrowly escaped injury.

Fr Peter reflected with me on the disconcerting feelings he has, since as a priest he was working in Washington DC at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and was working in London at the time of two tragic Tube bombings. There are certain to be many in our community who will be personally affected by this tragedy, and we pray for Fr Peter and all who minister and care for the survivors.

In the Churchyard of Holy Trinity Nice is buried Henry F. Lyte, the author of the loved hymn "Abide with me". In his words:
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. 
God of infinite mercy, we pray for the victims of the Nice attack. Remember them according to the favour you bear for your people. Comfort those who mourn and give strength to the injured. Deliver those whose hearts are hardened by hatred. Grant to us all your understanding, and your persevering love, for your mercy's sake. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ecumenical hospitality offered by Bishop of Tenerife is central to our Anglican life in his diocese

During a recent visit I made to see the Bishop of Tenerife, Don Bernardo Álvarez Afonso, he affirmed his welcome to Anglicans on the islands in his diocese (Tenerife, La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera). In our Parish of St Francis in the south of Tenerife, we borrow Roman Catholic Churches for our eucharists as we do in the Anglican Church in La Palma.

It was good to be able to thank Don Bernardo for his ecumenical hospitality. Together we reflected on the results of the referendum on EU membership which was held in the UK and looked at common challenges - reaching youth with the joyful message of the Gospel and helping our priests relate effectively to people who are seeking spiritual nourishment in an increasingly secular Europe.

Don Bernardo is looking forward to meeting the new priest--in-charge of St Francis, Tenerife South, when he arrives, and also to meeting whoever is appointed in due course as Chaplain of All Saints, Puerto de la Cruz, (The latter parish is still in vacancy). He already has met the Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol, the priest-in-charge in La Palma.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Canary Islanders reach out in solidarity to Sahrawi refugee children

On my journeys last weekend I was reading with disappointment the report from Labour Peer Lord Dubs that not a single child refugee promised sanctuary in the UK has arrived since the scheme was set up last May. Lord Dubs was himself an escapee from Nazi Germany thanks to the Kindertransport programme. But my heart was then warmed through a chance encounter with a marvellous programme for refugee children run by charities and the local Canary Island government.

I wondered who the rather excited and noisy youngsters were on my plane coming into La Palma from Tenerife North on Saturday. It turned out that the children were from refugee camps near Tindouf in SW Algeria. I must admit that I was not aware that there are 165,000 refugees, “Sahrawi” people, who have been living in these camps for 40 years! The camps are in a very inhospitable region of the world; the summer temperature rises to more than 50 degrees. The landscape is nothing but sand.

Each year, children from the camps are brought to stay with Spanish families for about two months, July and August, to given them a chance to enjoy a fresher climate, the sea, and to receive medical and nutritional care, as well as to build friendships and cultural links for them beyond their refugee camp existence. The programme is called Vacaciones en Paz (holidays in peace). The love and solidarity shown by ordinary Canarian families was deeply moving.

Our parish priest on La Palma, the Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol, will be looking into possibilities for our Anglican community to assist with this programme in some way.

Refugee Camp in Tindouf, Algeria. Photo by Jørn Sund-Henriksen, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 11 July 2016

First confirmations in new parish of La Palma - with an ecumenical flavour

One of the newest parishes in the Diocese in Europe is the Anglican Church in La Palma, a pastoral charge in our growing Archdeaconry of Gibraltar. The Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol is the parish priest.

On this island (in the Canaries) services are now held each Sunday, enabled by the outstanding hospitality offered by the Roman Catholic Church. Our services are held in three different Roman Catholic Churches or chapels: twice each month in San Martín de Porres, El Paso, and once a month in Nuestra Señora de Bonanza, also in El Paso, and in the Hospital Chapel near Santa Cruz. (Surely, Nuestra Señora de Bonanza is the best name anywhere in the Anglican world for one of our churches!)

San Martín de Porres
The Hospital Chapel
Nuestra Señora de Bonanza
Last Sunday was a special celebration: the first confirmations since the parish was formed. The liturgy was in the delightful San Martín de Porres, located on a hill-top surrounded by pine forest.

It was an ecumenical occasion too. My chaplain for the eucharist was a young RC seminarian, Francisco, who was back home on the island during the break from his studies in Málaga. One of the local priests, Fr Bernabé, rushed to join us for the refreshments after his own celebrations were finished. The congregation included Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

Jennifer gives priority to nurturing and deepening the ecumenical relations on the island. Thanks to her work there is a growing understanding of the Anglican tradition among her Roman Catholic colleagues. Thus in this parish on the westernmost fringe of our diocese, our ecumenical commitment is being lived out in dialogue and friendship with our Roman Catholic hosts.

Marian (RC friend of the parish), Parish Priest Jennifer, Fr Bernabé, and Seminarian Francisco
Friends from the "mother parish" of All Saints Tenerife flew in for the occasion, marking the close links and support from the community out of which the Anglican Church in La Palma grew.

A Palmarian Festive Lunch!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Worthy! Panta axia! The shout of the congregation when Deacon Christine Rosamund Saccali is ordained in Athens

Under some shade in the patio of St Paul's Church in Athens, where the temperature was in the mid-30s, the solemn declarations and oaths required of those entering Holy Orders were taken by Christine Saccali on Sunday 3 July, the day of her ordination to the diaconate. Archdeacon of the East, the Venerable Colin Williams, was on hand to witness to these legal preliminaries to the ordination rite itself.

The lessons at the ordination service were read by parish Reader Sherri and British Ambassador to Greece, HE John Kittmer. Deacon Frances Hiller, my chaplain, was the preacher for the occasion and the deacon of the mass, a most appropriate role as Frances, like Christine, was a Reader before her calling to the distinctive diaconate became clear.

The heart of the ordination liturgy is the laying on of hands with prayer. But just before this moment the ordinand lies prostrate before the altar. Prostration is an ancient biblical sign of humility, attested to in the Book of Deuteronomy, signifying that the ordinand is completely dependent upon God, as the ordinal says “you cannot bear the weight of this calling in your own strength, but only by the grace and power of God”. During the prostration the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus and the litany are sung, in which the community invokes the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit on the ordinand.

The congregation of the packed church proclaimed Πάντα άξια! (Panta axia) when the newly ordained Deacon Christine Rosamund Saccali, vested in dalmatic, the traditional vestment of her order, was presented to the people. This traditional cry "worthy!" was just one of many expressions of exuberant joy on Christine's ordination day.

Ecumenical guests from the Salvation Army, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church joined parishioners and family and friends of Deacon Christine. Diocesan colleagues from the Canary Islands, Varese, Madrid, Belgrade and Crete flew in for the occasion. Archdeacon of the East Colin Williams and Director of Ordinands Canon William Gulliford presented Christine and her tutor, the Revd Charles Read, represented the Eastern Regional Training Course in Cambridge where Christine did her pre-ordination studies.

Deacon Christine will serve as assistant curate in the Greater Athens Chaplaincy, under the supervision of the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw MBE, the Senior Chaplain.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Prayer following the Istanbul Airport attack

Mosaic from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has sent a message to His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, following the deadly bombings at Istanbul's Ataturk airport which killed 41 people in injured hundreds more. On Tuesday night, as soon as news reached us of this latest terrorist attack, Archdeacon Colin Williams and I sent messages of solidarity and condolence to the clergy and people in our Istanbul parishes. 

The General Secretary of CEC, Fr Heikki Huttunen speaking on behalf of European Christians said “The attack on Istanbul hurts all of us because it targets one of the cradles of European civilisation. Istanbul is a city at the crossroads of east and west, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is the biggest city in Europe and it is one of the centres of global Christianity, although the Christians there live as a minority among a Muslim majority in a secular state. To target this bustling centre of historic and contemporary importance is an attack against the development of Turkey as a democratic and open European nation.”

The CEC has asked our member Churches (which includes the Church of England) to pray for Istanbul and Turkey.

The text of the CEC message to His All Holiness is as follows:

Your All Holiness,
The news of yesterday’s violent attacks at Ataturk international airport has reached the people and churches of Europe with deepest sorrow. On behalf of the Conference of European Churches, we extend to you our sincere condolences to you and all the people of Turkey.
Acts motivated by the desire to promote fear and terror place strain our communities and our societies. They create suspicion of neighbour and erode solidarity. In the aftermath of this deadly attack, we must be courageous in our resistance to these forces, and draw strength from the Holy One.
We commend the mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and personally of Your All Holiness for the continued Christian presence in Istanbul and Turkey, and your work for a spirituality of justice and peace.
We pray that God may keep the souls of those who died, heal those that have survived, and sustain the families and communities touched by this immeasurable loss. The prayers of European Christians are with your witnessing church and all the people of your blessed and historical city.
With deepest condolences,
Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD
The Very Rev. Protopresbyter Heikki Theodoros Huttunen
General Secretary

O God, we commend to your care all who have died in terrorist attacks. May they be held in your everlasting love and rest in peace in your eternal home. Comfort and heal all who have been injured or bereaved, and surround them with your love and give them strength for the days ahead. Help us to continue our pursuit of justice and peace, to confront hatred and violence, and to build up our common life. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Confirmation at All Saints, Cologne

Many of our parishes regularly produce candidates for confirmation which for me is a sure sign that Christian life is flourishing in this diocese. All Saints Cologne with St Boniface Bonn is one two point parish which seems to have candidates to present each year, and all from a diverse background, reflecting the multicultural make-up of these congregations. On Sunday 19 June, 6 candidates were confirmed, who came originally from Northern Ireland, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Iran and Morocco.

A moving moment in the liturgy happens around the font where the candidates renew their baptismal vows and sign themselves with the cross using baptismal water - to remind them that they are part of the Body of Christ.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Orientation for clergy joining the diocese from outside the C of E

The norms, canons, measures and customs of the Church of England can be mystifying to Anglicans from other Provinces. The mystery is further complicated in this particular C of E Diocese which covers 42 countries outside England, necessitating some unique practices and procedures.

As a Diocese we welcome and indeed we are blessed with many clergy who come from Provinces other than the Church of England. Experience has shown that it is worthwhile gathering newly appointed clergy from other parts of the Communion to share some orientation material and to provide a forum for questions and answers pertaining to the norms of the C of E and the Diocese in Europe.

On 20 and 21 June, six such priests joined the Diocesan Secretary Mr Adrian Mumford, the Archdeacon of Gibraltar, Geoff Johnston and myself for a 24 hour orientation session held at St Columba's House in Woking. The clergy are serving parishes in Versailles, Gothenburg, Fontainebleau, Freiburg, Marseilles and Berne.

What do cover in this 24 hours? Everything from "who's who?" in the diocese to record keeping, liturgical matters, and the ever-exciting "Church Representation Rules".

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Fr Tuomas Mäkipää and Mr David Coulston elected chairs of Houses of Clergy and Laity, respectively

House of Clergy Chair Fr Tuomas Mäkipää (l) with Fr John Perris and Ms Cynthia D'Alimonte the (US) Episcopal Church Reps.  
The Diocesan Synod, the body that draws together elected representatives of clergy and lay people from across the Diocese, is composed of three “houses”. The House of Bishops consists of Bishop Robert and myself. Then there is the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

As this was the start of a triennium, the Houses of Clergy and Laity met during the recent Synod to elect their chairs, who then become vice-presidents of the Synod. The Revd Tuomas Mäkipää, the Chaplain of St Nicholas Helsinki and Assistant Area Dean for Finland, was elected chair of the House of Clergy. Mr David Coulston, a parishioner in St Andrew’s Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca was elected chair of the House of Laity. Both are also members of General Synod from our Diocese.

Congratulations to them both.

House of Laity Chair Mr David Coulston shares a joke with Area Dean of France Canon Debbie Flach

Friday, 24 June 2016

We remain a European Church which serves all people. Let us resolve to be even more faithful to this calling.

Like so many in the UK, Europe and across the world, I awoke today to the news of the outcome of the Referendum with deep sadness. As a Scot with background in Burma and Canada and who serves the Church of England as a bishop I have been immensely proud of my red EU passport and feel such regret that the UK electorate has voted the way it has.

Our Diocese in Europe is part of the Church of England, but it is wholeheartedly a European Church. Our responsibility as a diaspora jurisdiction is to serve English-speaking and Anglican Christians from around the world who make our beloved European continent (plus Morocco and Turkey) their home. Our clergy will now take seriously their ministry to members of our churches, particularly to those UK passport holders who may now be filled with worry about their life on the continent, the future of health care, their pension provision, the right of residence, their freedom to work and study, and perhaps also anxious about the future of children and grandchildren whose place within the world’s largest free-trade and economic area is now far less certain.  Our pastoral care and accompaniment is offered to them as a matter of priority.

Our clergy and lay leaders will no doubt be asked for explanations by our sister and brother Christians and our European neighbours among whom we live. We will wish to reassure them that the UK referendum result is not a rejection of them, their nations, cultures, gifts, hospitality and generosity. It was a political decision and certainly not an ecclesial one. Now we will need to redouble our efforts to demonstrate our commitment to the common good, rejecting narrow nationalism and selfish individualism. Our alliances, covenants, commitments and unity agreements with sister European Churches will be all the more important now so that we can demonstrate our solidarity and communion as Christians together on the continent. For as Christians we are committed to the unity of all people.

With great shame the UK may have initiated a possible domino effect in the EU in general, fragile as it is in these days, as right wing parties may now feel inspired to seek a similar path to the UK decision. (Indeed the beginning of the dismantling of the EU itself is what Mr Nigel Farage himself has expressly wished). But we will want make clear to our neighbours and friends that such a wish is very far indeed from the position of UK folk who live in other EU countries, who find there a welcoming home.

The Church of England is a European Church. St Alban our first martyr was a Roman soldier. Our first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine, was from Italy, The list of our Archbishops includes such luminaries as St Theodore of Tarsus, St Anselm, Lanfranc, and even more recently Rowan Williams, all Europeans from outside England. The Church of England is a member of the Conference of European Churches, and indeed a Church of England Bishop, Christopher Hill, is its President. Our liturgy, tradition, canon law and schools of prayer and spirituality are rooted in the Latin tradition of the Western European Church. Even the Reformation which coloured our own development was a European phenomenon. All this will not change as a result of 23 June, but remain our precious shared gifts with other European Christians, our common heritage, and an inheritance which unites us.

As Christians we are a Pentecost people. The unity of nations and peoples is part of our vision of the new society, the kingdom of God, which we work to reveal, that vision which is poetically summed up in a canticle we recite in Common Worship Daily Prayer:
You are worthy, O Lamb, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe, and language and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God.
So this Diocese in Europe, as a Christian family, will continue to be a European family, working, worshipping and witnessing alongside our sister European Churches and with them serving and loving our neighbour. We remain a European Church which serves all people. Let us resolve to be even more faithful to this calling, with the help of God.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of Europe, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and prejudice and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.