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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Tuesday, 5 March 2019

9 new clergy attend the Gibraltar Archdeaconry synod

The Synod Standing Committee: Area Dean David Waller, Archdeacon Geoff Johnston, Joan Berry and Gwen Furmster
The Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod is likely the largest of our Deanery/Archdeaconry bodies. It is also a surprisingly popular event. Many people volunteer and pay from their own pocket to attend, who do not have to be there by virtue of their licence or election. A rarity in the Christian world!

At its meeting from 3 to 8 February, near Torrevieja Spain, the Interim Archdeacon Geoff Johnston noted that there had been much change since the synod met last year, with a total of 9 new clergy appointments. As the Archdeacon is involved in all these appointments, this has been a busy year for him, in addition to his other responsibiliteis. Also several new diocesan staff, including the Director of Communications and Bishop Robert's attaché to the European Union, Damian Thwaites, and the new Diocesan Secretary, Andrew Caspari, were introduced to the synod. 

Fr Rodney Middleton
Canon Elaine Labourel

The clergy chapter, meeting before the whole synod, spent time exploring the Church's Healing Ministry, led by Fr Rodney Middleton of Holy Spirit Parish, Costa Blanca. The clergy also had a session on Reader Ministry, introducing the updated Reader Ministry Handbook in particular, which was led by the Director of Reader Ministry Revd Canon Elaine Labourel. The whole synod enjoyed a presentation on aspects of ecclesiastical law by Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith.

Diocesan Registrar, Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith

Canon Alan Bennet
The Revd Canon Alan Bennett (Assistant Priest in Costa Almería and Costa Cálida) presided at one of the daily masses, celebrating his 50th year in the priesthood.  I was also able to issue Fr David Waller with a fresh commission for his work as Area Dean. Fr David assists the Archdeacon in supporting the clergy and parishes in the Balearic Islands, and Catalonia.
Area Dean David Waller receives a new commission at Morning Prayer
The ingredients for a good synod seem to come together in the Gibraltar Archdeaconry: excellent leadership and planning, stimulating speakers, inspiring worship, a congenial venue, and time for fun as well as for business.

The Synod Barn Dance!

Friday, 1 March 2019

Congratulations to Deacon Frances

Yesterday, 28 February, was the feast of a saint not often celebrated across the Christian world, Pope St Hilary. (He is not to be confused with St Hilary of Poitiers, who is more widely commemorated). Pope St Hilary succeeded St Leo the Great as Bishop of Rome. He died in 468. 

Among Hilary's accomplishments were the building up and strengthening of churches and communities in what is modern day Spain. He is also known for enforcing discipline among bishops. What a splendid occasion, therefore, for the re-licensing of Deacon Frances Hiller. She is attached officially to the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar which includes Spain, of course, and her day job is being a bishop's chaplain!  

In the presence of staff at Tufton Street yesterday, I was pleased to license Frances for the next term of 5 years. 

Pope St Hilary


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

La giustizia e solo la giustizia - Justice and only justice: Unity Week in Venice

The Chaplain of St George's Venice, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, is just finishing his term as chairman of the Consiglio Locale delle Chiese Cristiane di Venezia, the local council of Churches in Venice. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is of course a busy time for such local ecumenical bodies. In Venice the week came to a close with a liturgy in the magnificent Basilica de San Marco on Friday 25 January. I had the privilege of being the preacher at the service, which was presided by the Patriarch of Venice, Don Francesco Moraglia.

Following the liturgy, seminarians from Venice were on hand to provide some refreshments for the participants.

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw

The Patriarch and I held discussions on Saturday 26th, particularly focussiing on the changes in Europe and Italy in these days. The Patriarch has been a strong voice in support of welcoming refugees in Italy, and urging his parishes to collaborate in concrete actions of solidarity and support, upholding and defending the dignity of these human beings. 

Don Francesco spoke warmly of our ecumenical relations and was particularly interested in IARCCUM, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Communion for Unity and Mission, of which I am the Anglican Co-chairman.

Padre Stefano Cavalli and Padre Malcolm Bradshaw
Other ecumenical visits included time at the  L’Istituto di Studi Ecumenici “San Bernardino”, hosted by Padre Stefano Cavalli OFM. The institute has an impressive ecumenical library. Other visits included to the Church of the Redentore, one of the most venerated churches in the city, built to mark the end of the plague of 1575-77. Some time was also spent in the  Church of the Parish where our own St George's is located, Santa Maria del Rosario ai Gesuati. Don Francesco Marchesi, the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer was a gracious host for these visits. 

St George's Venice
Sunday was of course a time to celebrate and preach at our own St George's Church. There are exciting plans ahead for increasing the use of St George's as a venue for art and music, to capitalise on both the splendid location of the church and its excellent acoustic. 

At the end of the mass, I was able to bless a small plaque to be placed on the altar rail in memory of Fr Howard Levitt, who was Fr Malcolm's predecessor as Chaplain.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Encouraging growth in St Augustine of Hippo congregation, Rabat

St Augustine of Hippo congregation in Rabat, Morocco, is one of the newest communities in our Diocese in Europe. It was established about 5 years ago, under the leadership of the Revd Canon Dr Medhat Sabry. the Chaplain of St John the Evangelist, Casablanca. It is still served by Fr Medhat each week.

The congregation is a home for foreigners of many nationalities in the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. Rabat is about 90 km from Casablanca, the largest city. Our congregation is hosted in the chapel a school run by the Roman Catholic Filles du Cœur Immaculé de Marie. 

Over the past 5 years the congregation has grown slowly but steadily. For the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, the congregation numbered 40, including some children in a Sunday School. The time has come to consider the next steps in the life of the congregation. Very soon I will authorising a local Church Council to form to give direction and local leadership for the ongoing development of the congregation.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council meeting

Břevnov Monastery
The Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council has recently concluded its meetings, which were held at the Břevnov Monastery in Prague. This was the final meeting of the Council's present mandate and much of the work was focussed on preparing the final report to the Anglican Consultative Council and the (Old Catholic) International Bishops' Conference. The AOCICC is the official instrument serving the communion between Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Churches of the Anglican Communion which was brought about in 1931 through the Bonn Agreement.

At the closing Mass in the Old Catholic Cathedral (in sub-zero temperature), Mrs Jennifer Knudsen, a member of the Council from the Chaplaincy of St Boniface Bonn with All Saints Cologne, and a Reader in Training in this diocese, read a lesson. 

Jennifer Knudsen
Of course, being Prague, the monastery produces its own beer!

Below is the official communiqué:


The Anglican–Old Catholic International Coordinating Council
Internationaler Anglikanisch/Altkatholischer Koordinierungsrat

Communiqué 2019

AOCICC with Cardinal Duka and Bishopp Malý

Prague, 19 January 2019

The Anglican–Old Catholic International Coordinating Council (AOCICC) met in the central European capital city of Prague, Czech Republic, from 16 to 19 January 2019. The meeting was hosted by the Union of Utrecht. This was the seventh and final meeting of the Council under its current mandate (2013–2019).

The work of this meeting centred on:

  • finalising the Report of the Anglican–Old Catholic International Coordinating Council 2013–2019 to the Anglican Consultative Council and the International Bishops’ Conference;
  • the importance of and progress made in Safeguarding in both Communions;
  • formulating recommendations for the next mandate of the AOCICC.

The Council was invited to the Archbishop’s Palace for a meeting with Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, Archbishop of Prague, and Auxiliary Bishop Václav Malý. The members were grateful for the opportunity to learn about the challenges facing the Czech Churches throughout the 20th century and to the present day. Worshipping together has always been integral to the life of the Council. Alongside the (Anglican and Old Catholic) Daily Office the Council celebrated the Eucharist in the Old Catholic tradition at the Old Catholic Cathedral of St Lawrence in Prague, at the invitation of the Dean the Revd ThDr. Petr Jan Vinš. The Council thanks him, his bishop, the Rt Revd PhDr Pavel Benedikt Stránský, and the Bishop’s Office for organising and hosting the meeting.

For further information, please contact the Revd Neil Vigers (neil.vigers@anglicancommunion.org) or the Revd Lars Simpson (lars.simpson@christkath-zuerich.ch).

Websites: www.utrechterunion.org and www.anglicancommunion.org

Members of the Council:


The Right Revd Michael Burrows, Co-Chair
The Revd Jennifer Adams-Massmann (not present)
The Right Revd David Hamid
Ms Jennifer Knudsen
The Revd Tony Litwinski
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, Anglican Communion Office (not present)
The Revd Neil Vigers, Co-Secretary, Anglican Communion Office
Ms Lucy Cowpland, Administrator for Communications & Unity, Faith, and Order, Anglican Communion Office

Old Catholics

The Right Revd Dr Dirk Jan Schoon, Co-Chair
The Revd Professor Dr Angela Berlis
The Revd ThDr. Petr Jan Vinš
The Revd Lars Simpson, Co-Secretary

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Baptism of Our Lord at St John the Evangelist, Casablanca

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord was an occasion for joyful celebration at St John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca when several members of the congregation were confirned.

The services at St John's tend to be lively affairs, with much music and rhythm from sub-Saharan countries alongside western songs and hymns. During the sprinkling of the people, reminding them of their own Baptismal vows, a song composed by one of the Liberian members of the parish was sung. Fittingly, referring to God's grace, the song is called "It is Raining!"

Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, the Chaplain of St John's, was joined on the occasion of my visit by the Revd Canon Joanna Udal, who is an (ecumenical) member of a religious community in Casablanca. Canon Udal was the former Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs for the Archbishops of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and Justin Welby.

Meanwhile work continues apace on the St John's community centre, which will provide accommodation for educational programmes for young and old, a priest's office and other facilities for the community.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Celia Paterson, supporting Godly Play ecumenically and internationally

Celia Paterson is a Reader who serves in St George's Madrid. She is also one of Europe's leaders in Godly Play, a creative and imaginative approach to Christian nurture for those in early, middle and late childhood. It is without doubt a significant movement supporting the exploration of faith by children and young people in today's Church.

The diocese is justifiably proud of Celia's leadership in Godly Play internationally and ecumenically, a clear outworking of her Reader vocation to teach the faith and nurture disciples.  Here is an account from Celia of a recent event in Northern Spain:


I was invited to take part in a Young people’s retreat run by the De La Salle brothers in the north of Spain. It was immediately after Christmas – 26th-28th December – and was held in a beautiful monastery in Bujedo in the Province of Burgos.
I knew the brother organising it, Guillermo Moreno Barrero, from one of the Godly Play courses I had run and I was asked to help José Andrés Sánchez Abarrio run the Biblical ‘Itinerary’. He had chosen the theme of Abraham and we used several Godly Play stories among other things over the two days. José Andrés is a Biblical Scholar, who teaches at the De La Salle University near Madrid and has run some Godly Play courses with me, along with a nun, Mercedes Méndez Siliuto.
There were around 130 of us at the retreat. Most of our group were in their twenties, with two or three older people, including José Andrés’s secondary school headmaster! They were a lovely group of people.

I was asked to give a ‘Testimony’. I found the idea quite scary, but agreed to do it. I had to talk a bit about my life and faith, my role in the church and especially about Anglicanism. Then the people could ask questions.
There were some 40 to 50 people and I had a mixture of questions from the young people and de La Salle Brothers. I was worried I might get a deep theological question from one of the older de La Salle Brothers, but I managed to answer all the questions and anyway had Guillermo and José Andrés either side of me as my guardians!!
I found it very encouraging that so many people wanted to find out about the Anglican Church. I think I was probably the only person on the retreat who was not Roman Catholic.

There was a concert the last evening given by Sister Glenda, a Chilean nun who evangelizes through her singing. 
The two days were fantastic. The atmosphere was wonderful. I also learned a lot from José Andrés over the two days. The people came from all over Spain and many from Portugal and were so enthusiastic. I had met a few brothers through Godly Play courses, but now know a lot more. I felt very privileged indeed to have been part of the retreat.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

St Thomas à Becket, a very English and very European saint, patron of the Anglican Church in Hamburg

For over 400 years, since 1611, the English Church in Hamburg has been serving the English speaking community in the city. At first the congregation was made up of English residents who were largely engaged in shipping and trade. Today the Church is a multinational community; typically at the Sunday mass the congregation, which is regularly more than 100, represents over 15 nationalities.

The Church is dedicated to St Thomas à Becket. On 9 January a window depicting the saint was blessed, having been restored, mounted and illuminated in one of the upper galleries of the building. The glass, dating from the late 19th century, was donated by Graham Dry and his wife Beate Dry-von Zerschwitz who discovered it among other stained glass in a specialist shop in London.

The members of the congregation are proud to have this saint as their patron, particularly in these days when the relationship between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe is uncertain. They know that St Thomas à Becket is a very European saint. Just a couple of years after his martydom in 1170 in a provincial city on an off-shore island, he began to be honoured across the entire continent. As early as a decade after the martyrdom people from as far away as Iceland were including Canterbury on their pilgrimage agenda along with Santiago de Compostela and Rome. St Thomas is is a reminder that we in Europe share a history; we share a story; we share heroes; we share an identity. For over 800 years St Thomas has joined the English community to other European communities. His widespread veneration is a reminder that we are essentially one as people, united in proclaiming and living the great values and truths of the Gospel. 

Apart from speaking of our fundamental European solidarity and unity St Thomas's martydom, on the orders of King Henry II, reminds us our Christian calling to resist all abuse of power in our world today, and to stand with courage against all distortion of the Christian message and Christ’s values of justice, love and peace.  

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Spectacular, most beautiful. An ecumenical compliment!

Well, it is the 10th day of Christmas - no "Lords a-Leaping",  but instead here is one account of the ecumenical impact our traditional Christmas carol services have. It is from Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, the Chaplain of St George's Venice. Not a bad testimony from the city of the Gabrielis and Monteverdi!

"Spectacular, most beautiful. To see and hear those young people singing really filled my heart."
Such were the remarks of Don Andrea the Roman Catholic priest of the parish in which St George’s Anglican Church, Venice, is situated. He had attended and participated in the service of Nine Lessons and Carols held in St George’s on 15th December. Immediately on returning home he sent the above words to Mr David Newbold the Churchwarden.

St George’s was privileged by having the contribution of thirty six voices from the choirs of Eton College and St Paul’s Girls' school, London. This was the first occasion that these two choirs toured together. The service (standing room only) proved to be a powerful act of worship. It also highlighted what a rich inheritance the UK has in its tradition of Christmas carols and music – something not found in southern Europe but increasingly appreciated in these parts.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Happy and blessed Christmas to Eurobishop readers

The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity Gibraltar, quietly awaits the first mass of Christmas
When peaceful silence lay over all, and night was in the midst of her swift course: from your royal throne, O God, down from the heavens, leapt your almighty Word (Christmas antiphon on the Magnificat) 
I wish all members of the Christian communities of the diocese in Europe, along with all friends and family, a joyful celebration of Christmas. As Jesus lived in love with Mary and Joseph, may every member of the human family live in peace and love.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Santiago Camino Chaplaincy prepares for 2019

The Diocese in Europe Camino Chaplaimcy is preparing for its second year of operation in 2019. It is proposed to extend the ministry from April/May through to October/November, and will be expanding to include not only the ministry on offer in Santiago itself, but chaplains who will be walking with pilgrims on the various caminos.

The Santiago base is "Egeria House" which is the home of Sybille Yates, the local coordinator for this ministry. 2018 was a fruitful pioneering year, some of the highlights being:
  • 27 church services (Sunday mornings in a chapel-like room the Parador Hotel has given us for free, Wednesday afternoons at Egeria House, followed by a shared meal).
  • Open House each weekday afternoon, for coffee/tea and chat.
  • Hospital and albergue visits to ill pilgrims, and ad hoc meetings with pilgrims on request.
  • Being present around town, and on the last kilometres of many Caminos to meet pilgrims, encourage them, welcome them and listen to them. 
  • Working closely together with ecumenical partners here in Santiago.
  • Providing practical help (food, equipment etc) to pilgrims that either came directly to us or were referred to us by our ecumenical partners.
One of the first congregations in 2018 with the Revd Liska Stefko, volunteer priest.
Plans for 2019, besides offering a presence throughout the pilgrim season, include, increasing the frequency of weekly eucharisstic celebrations followed by a shared meal, in addition to the Sunday Eucharist.  The “walking chaplains” ministering to pilgrims on the way, will be an important new dimension to this ministry as well.

Father Bob Bates, Camino Chaplain, blessing Estela the Camino Kitten on Saint Francis Day
These priests/chaplains, like all other volunteers, pay their own expenses, but we are seeking some funds to offer hospitality on arriva in Santiago and a welcome meal. There are other small overhead costs, such printing of material and basic supplies for the mass, and also costs of Egeria House.  It costs about €15 per day to run the Camino Chaplainc. Perhaps you might consider sponsoring one or more days? The ministry is run entirely on donations.

Please pray for this growing ministry of our diocese. For information on the Camino Chaplaincy follow this link. (http://egeria.house/chaplaincy/)

And if you would like to contribute financially through paypall, please follow this link.

Photos courtesy of Egeria House

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

CEMES Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Six interns on the Diocese in Europe CEMES scheme, (a Church of England programme to encourage young vocations to the sacred ministry), 4 mentors and guests were led by Fr William Gulliford, the Director of Ordinands, on an 8 day pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 12 - 20 November. I was privileged to be part of the pilgrimage for a few days, along with the Revd Dr Matthias Grebe, (a former ordinand of this diocese and now on the staff at the Council for Christian Unity).

Director of Ordinands, Fr William Gulliford
The purpose of the Study Pilgrimage was to give a focus for the first term’s academic study for the interns and for to research one site of historic importance, about which a 4000 word essay is being written. On site, at each place, respectively each intern introduced the location to the group, and then fielded questions. For the many other sites, the group was most fortunate to have in support Dr Clare Amos, Director of Lay Discipleship in the Diocese, Hebrew Scholar and veteran of the Holy Land, having lived there for three years in the 70s and having visited multiple times since.

Director of Lay Discipleship, Dr Clare Amos
A strong focus, beyond exploring the Biblical significance of the Holy Land was getting exposure to Christian Orthodoxy, and a central part of the visit was a meeting with His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. Considerable discussion of the foundational aspects of Orthodoxy in the Holy Land took place, and resonated in the actual meeting with the Patriarch. For all of the interns this encounter with the Eastern Church was new, and of a particular contextual relevance.

The Revd Dr Matthias Grebe
Visits to the Al Aqsa/Temple Mount, and a Reform Synagogue meant some engagement with questions of Islam and Judaism was possible. A wider encounter with people from a range of backgrounds meant that the reality of life either side of a large separation wall was possible to get some sense of, with all the tensions, paradoxes and fears. Meeting people trying to overcome the entrenched positions gave hope and inspiration; but no one came away underestimating the task before all concerned.

The Tomb of Christ
Fr William notes that "the friendship of fellow pilgrims helped give a sense of the Church’s prayerful accompaniment and support of discernment. And the inspirational teaching of Clare Amos will live with all who sat at her feet".

A booklet of the entire pilgrimage has been prepared. There are many more photos and an account of the journey written by participants. I have uploaded the journal to this blog on a separate tab called CEMES Holy Land Pilgrimage.

Erik Heemskirk - Utrecht; Mark Van Eker - Brussels; Ben O’Neill - Vienna;
Isle Swart - Leuven;  Sharon Ejinkonye - Tervuren; Jonty Brawn - Lyon