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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Wednesday, 22 February 2023

The Very Revd Lucinda Laird, Chaplain of St George's Venice


There has been a Church of England presence in Venice since 1604, when the Revd William Bedell arrived in the city as part of the embassy of Queen Elizabeth I to the Doge. Over 400 years later, St George's offers a welcome to residents and to the many visitors who come to the city. It continues to be a congregation with people from many parts of the world, with an extraordinary range of gifts and talents.

On Sunday 19 February, I licensed the Very Revd Lucinda Laird as the new chaplain of St George's (with Christ Church Trieste, too.) Mother Lucinda comes to us from the US Episcopal Church where she served in many places, as well as latterly as the Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris. I believe she is the first woman to serve as our priest in Venice. We welcome her most warmly to the Church of England Diocese in Europe.

It was a significant ecumenical occasion as well. Lucinda has already been personally welcomed by the Patriarch of Venice who invited her to preach in St Mark's Basilica in the week of prayer for Christian unity. For the installation mass, the Patriarch sent his ecumenical delegate, Monsignor Angelo Pagan to represent him, and the local parish priest, Fr Valentino Cagnin, was also present (and prayed for Mother Lucinda at his own parish mass that day.) Other Anglican clergy present included the Revd Castro Adieabah, who is studying in Venice, and the Revds Nick Fisher and Martin Poole, who have both assisted in St George's in the past. 

At the Confirmation

On the evening before the installation, I was able to confirm a new member of the congregation, of Turkish background. 

My own ecumenical visits were included in the parish weekend, including to the Patriarch and the Orthodox Metropolitan, both old friends.

I had to hobble around Venice, due to a fracture in my left foot (sustained when I was in the Holy Land the week before). The "space boot" I have to wear is nowhere near as elegant and exotic as the costumes in Venice that weekend, at the height of Carnivale! 

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Blessings on the new Bishop of Visby, our partner diocese


We send our best wishes and assurance of our prayers to Bishop Erik Eckerdal, who was consecrated the Bishop of Visby in the Church of Sweden on Sunday 15 January, in the great cathedral in Uppsala. Visby is the partner diocese of the Diocese in Europe, within the Porvoo family of Churches.  The partnership takes its origin from the fact that the Bishop of Visby also oversees the parishes of the Church of Sweden Abroad, which covers Europe, like ourselves. But Bishop Erik also oversees the Church of Sweden congregations in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia! 

Photo from Svenska Dagbladet

Consecrated at the same time was the new Bishop of the Diocese of Linköping, Marika Markovits. I was moved to be invited to be one of the consecrators of Bishop Erik, by the Archbishop of Uppsala,  Martin Modéus, at the High Mass (Högmässa) of Consecration.  Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden, and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson were in attendance. Archbishop Martin also invited me to preach the homily at the vigil Vespers in the cathedral, on Saturday evening. 

Bishop John Okoro and Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang

It was also a joy to be with some old friends among the foreign bishops, including the Obispo Maximo of the Philippine Independent Church, His Grace Rhee Timbang, and Bishop Emeritus of the Old Catholic Diocese of Austria, the Rt Revd Dr John Okoro. This was the first time that an Old Catholic Bishop had participated in the consecration of a woman bishop. 

Photo courtesy of the Church of Sweden

The Archbishop of Uppsala with the two new bishops and Their Majesties, the King and Queen

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine

It was not what I was planning for the week after the New Year break, but nevertheless it was a  privilege to be one of the representatives of the Anglican Communion at the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Christopher Hill, a distinguished ecumenist and one of my predecessors as Co-Secretary of ARCIC, and Archbishop Ian Ernest the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and I made up the trio of delegates.

Bishop Hill, Fr Martin Browne OSB (the Vatican's man for Anglican relations) and Archbishop Ernest

It was cold and rather misty morning in St Peter's Square (and we were seated 2 hours before the mass began). But the square was soon filled with mourners from around the world who joined prayerfully in the requiem at which Pope Francis presided (from the chair) with the cardinals and bishops concelebrating. 

Preparing for the Requiem

There is no denying the range of views about Pope Benedict. He was loved by some for his strong teaching, particularly in his encyclical letters, and his emphasis on the beauty of the liturgy which he taught should be at the heart of the Church's life. Others were less pleased with the inadequate way he dealt with clerical abuse and with his conservative theological positions. But at his simple, dignified funeral such differences were put aside; we were all aware that we had gathered to commend a  human being, like us prone to failings and error, to God our loving and merciful Father.   

I was able to speak to Pope Francis for a moment to convey the condolences of the people of the Church of England Diocese in Europe.


Saturday, 24 December 2022

Christ is born, to save us with his love

A Ukrainian Icon of the Nativity

The greatest and most loving gift we celebrate at this time of the year is the very birth of Our Lord. The great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner summed it up: “When we say, ‘It is Christmas,’ we mean that God has spoken into the world his last, his deepest, his most beautiful word in the incarnate Word, a word that can no longer be revoked because it is God’s definitive deed, because it is God himself in the world. And this word means: I love you, you, the world and humankind”

A Ukrainian Christmas hymn also affirms this truth: 

God eternal is born tonight.

He came down from above

To save us with his love

And he rejoiced.

A joyful, loving and peaceful Christmas to all!

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

St Nicholas Helsinki embodies the symbolism of Christingle


The mass for the Third Sunday of Advent at St Nicholas, Helsinki, was an all age eucharist, incorporating a nativity play for the Liturgy of the Word, and after the communion of the people, Christingles!

Most Anglicans know about Christingles, a custom which originated in Germany in the 1700s. At St Nicholas’s the symbolism of the Christingle itself, the orange representing the world, and the red ribbon the love of Christ which embraces the world and her peoples, came alive as the children of the chaplaincy had links to every continent on the planet. Together and with great joy, (suitable for Gaudete Sunday!) they bore witness to Christ, the Light of the World.

TV cameras making last minute adjustments at the rehearsal for the service

The next day, the Chaplain, Fr Tuomas Mäkipää, was equally busy, as the Chaplaincy's annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols held in the (Lutheran) Cathedral was this year to be recorded for broadcast on Finnish State Television this coming Sunday. 

Helsinki Cathedral

The Cathedral which holds well over a thousand people was quite full, which was very encouraging as the service itself took place in the midst of one of the worst blizzards Helsinki had seen for years. Fr Tuomas had made sure that a wide cross-section of the parish were given key parts, from members of the youth group, to senior members who have supported the Chaplaincy for decades. 

Ambassador Bubbear

While the order of service was the traditional one, some parts were in Finnish, including the 8th lesson read in excellent Finnish by HE Mrs Theresa Bubbear, the UK Ambassador to Finland.    

Fr Tuomas and Dr Hamid

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Farewell to Archbishop of Uppsala

On Sunday 30 October, the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Most Revd Dr Antje Jackelén retired. Archbishop Jackelén is a long-standing friend of the Church of England and as the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden has played a significant role as one of the primates of the Churches which are in communion as a result of the Porvoo Agreement.

In her closing sermon during the High Mass at which she laid down her crozier the Archbishop preached on “life together” as a description of what God wants for the people of the world: 

To live together. In the home, among neighbours, in villages and cities, in a society that is shaped by everyone's participation, in the interdependence between all the countries of the world, in community with all other living beings on a planet where the climate is changing, and to live together with and before existence's deepest secret, that we, along with most people on earth, call God”.

Many testimonies and speeches were given recognising Archbishop Jackelén’s worldwide influence. Greetings and warm words of thanks were extended from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. I was privileged to be able to deliver a message from Archbishop Justin Welby. 
Among the colleagues who gathered was the Revd Professor Dr Charlotte Methuen, representing the Scottish Episcopal Church. Charlotte was a former Director of Ministry in the Diocese in Europe and is now Professor of Church History at the University of Glasgow. A close friend of Archbishop Antje, Charlotte preached the homily at the Vespers the evening before the farewell service.

Summing up the many tributes, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Revd Anne Burghardt, spoke of the Archbishop’s role in leading the Church’s humanitarian and development work, and strengthening the work of advocacy, theological education and gender justice.

Professor Methuen and a Representative of the Sámi Community

Particularly notable at the service was the presence and participation of representatives of the Sámi People. One of the lessons was read in the South Sámi language. Last year, Archbishop Jackelén led her Church in issuing an official apology to the Sámi for centuries of mistreatment towards them, and for the pain and shame inflicted on generations of these indigenous peoples through racism and abuse of power. The presence and participation of the Sámi was a sign of the commitment to the path of reconciliation.  

Friday, 4 November 2022

Commitment, faith and love at St Anthony Abbot, Padova

Every time I pay a pastoral visit to St Anthony Abbot Church in Padova, I come away inspired and deeply moved by the infectious and joyful faith of the community. My most recent visit in October was no exception. The priest, Fr Amos Osaromkpe, leads his people forward, following the COVID difficulties, to rebuild the life of the chaplaincy. 

Lay commitment and discipleship in the parish goes from strength to strength, evidenced by many new members of the Mothers’ Union whom I admitted during the (3 1/2 hour!) Sunday liturgy. I was assisted in this very happy task of admission by Mrs Tonie Chandler, the Diocesan President of the MU. 

Many young people were confirmed and committed themselves to be active followers of Our Lord. During the eucharist, as they gathered around the waters of baptism, they solemnly reminded themselves of that most important moment in their lives, when they became joined to Christ Our Saviour. 

It was a blessing to be able to celebrate all this, and much more during my visit, and to receive the warm hospitality and generosity of the faithful. The parishioners are determined to ensure that I am the best dressed bishop in the Church of God, and presented me with a very fine pair of new shoes! 

Thursday, 3 November 2022

St George's Taormina - Centenary celebrations

St George’s Taormina, which has to be located in one of the most dramatically beautiful settings in the diocese, celebrated the centenary of their building on 14 October. The festive eucharist on the occasion was according to the Book of Common Prayer, the rite that would have been used 100 years ago. 

Taormina has been a favoured destination for British visitors since the 19th century when writers, actors, poets and film stars on the Grand Tour descended on this town, perched under Mount Etna, overlooking the Mediterranean. Visitors continue today in great numbers and swell the congregation of regulars. St George’s is thus a meeting place for so many from around the world. 

Civic and ecumenical guests, as well as parishioners, visitors, clergy who have served St George’s, and neighbouring Anglicans from Palermo and Randazzo helped to fill the Church on the joyful occasion. I was assisted at the mass by the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, David Waller. The locum priest, Fr Shawn Denney, and his wife Mary Ann, who live in Springfield, Illinois, worked with the lay leadership of St George’s over many months, to plan the celebrations. It was a fitting and historic event!

Later that same weekend, the Sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated in St George’s with candidates from Taormina and from St Alberto congregation in Randazzo.


Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Diocese in Europe Ordinand in Rome


James Bartle, Fr Tony, John Wilson and Daniel Tsoi

At the weekly eucharist at the Anglican Centre in Rome this week, on the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist, I had the privilege of presiding and preaching. It was a joy to see in the congregation one of our own Diocese in Europe ordinands, John Wilson, who is on placement at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome. He was joined by two other colleagues from the Church of England also on placement, James Bartle (Diocese of Newcastle) and Daniel Tsoi (Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham). 

Their formation as future priests will be enhanced by this experience of living and studying alongside Roman Catholic seminarians, in the heart of Rome itself. I always advocate for maximum ecumenical input into the preparation of our future priests. 

In the picture above the three are in the company of Fr Tony Currer, who was until last week, the Vatican Official responsible for relations with the Anglican Communion and a good personal friend and friend of this diocese. Fr Tony, after nine years in Rome, now returns to take up a parish in Darlington, England. 

Monday, 17 October 2022

20 years on

20 years ago today, the feast of St Ignatius of Antioch, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, assisted by Anglican bishops from England, Portugal, Spain, Latin America, Scotland and Canada, and Old Catholic bishops from the Netherlands and Germany, consecrated me a bishop. 

It was deeply moving also to be supported on that day by the presence of so many ecumenical guests from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Today I recollect, with a combination of humility and joy, the privilege of serving this part of God’s Church. The pastoral, multicultural and ecumenical dynamics continue to make this diocese an exciting context for episcopal ministry. I am deeply grateful for the prayers and generosity of so many, and for the wise counsel and warm collaboration of colleagues. And for the patience and love of my family that carries me through the challenges.

“We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians." -St. Ignatius of Antioch

Thursday, 13 October 2022

A gathering of 2 deaneries - after 24 years!

From Reykjavik to Riga, from Trondheim to Freiburg, clergy and lay synod delegates gathered from the Nordic and Baltic Deanery and the Deanery of Germany for a joint meeting of the Archdeaconry in Stuttgart, the first of its kind in about 24 years. The meeting was held from 6 to 9 October. 

The clergy gathered first for a chapter meeting and were able to share their experiences of the challenges from the COVID lockdowns and the current difficulties facing chaplaincies due to rising energy prices. There was much discussion about the effects of the war in Ukraine. Across the Archdeaconry not only has there been an influx of Ukrainian refugees, in many places being welcomed into our congregations, but also in places like Finland there are now complications arising from the influx of Russians fleeing conscription. Furthermore in Latvia, which has a sizable Russian speaking minority, the dynamics in the country are very complex indeed. The general mood in the countries bordering Russia is one of heightened alertness (in some places with parishes and clergy being asked to be ready for ministry in difficult times), but there is not as yet a sense of panic.

Stadtdekan Søren Schwesig

The gathering was hosted by the Erlöserkirche (Church of the Redemption) in the Landeskirche of Württemberg, a sign of the deepening friendship nurtured by the Meissen Agreement between our the EKD (the German Protestant Churches) and the Church of England. The Stadtdekan Søren Schwesig of the Church in Stuttgart was the guest preacher for our closing synod eucharist.

Bishop Antonio Ablon

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Antonio Ablon, himself a refugee from the Philippines now settled in Germany spoke movingly of the struggles of the indigenous people in his native Mindanao against the military who are seeking to clear the land for western investments. His testimony reminded us all of the centrality of the pursuit of justice, in the calling of God's people. The IFI is the second largest Church in the Philippines, and is in full communion with the Churches of the Anglican Communion.  

The Revd Vinod Victor

The meeting was able to hear reports about the general assembly of the WCC which met in Germany, at which several of our archdeaconry clergy were present and hosted participants in their parishes. Our Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel and the Revd Vinod Victor of Freiburg presented the publication The Journey in Servanthood – The DNA of a Confident Church, which was launched at the WCC Assembly, and we commend this resource throughout our diocese which contains essays from many leaders in our diocese and other global voices on key current issues. 

Archdeacon Nathaniel and Dr Clare Amos

Bible studies were led by Dr Clare Amos, our Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship. Clare helped us to reflect deeper into the theme of the Assembly Christ´s Love Moves the Church to Reconciliation and Unity, also the theme of this Archdeaconry gathering of both our Deanery Synods. 
Dr Amos also was able to introduce the exciting lay discipleship course, which has just been launched, and which will equip the people in the diocese theologically to enable them to move forward more confidently as disciples of Christ. 

The Revd Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler

The German deanery environmental officer the Revd Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler spoke passionately of the urgency to change our own lifestyles as individuals and as communities to avoid further catastrophic damage to our planet. We received an update on the work of the racial justice group and were pleased that the first international conference on racism hosted by our diocese will be held in Freiburg in October 2023.

On the theme Mission and Evangelism Revd Stephen Walton and the Revd Canon Joanna Udal shared perspectives from scripture and from contemporary life and we noted the development of new work in northern Germany, where the deanery is looking to provide effective ministry amongst English speaking Christians in this new work.

The meeting enabled a rich exchange of experiences and both clergy and laity were able to offer each other mutual support. The encounter of the two deaneries will certainly strengthen our common mission and further the deepen the unity we treasure in this diocese.

The Archdeaconry was grateful to the Chaplain of St Catherine´s Stuttgart, Revd Kara Werner and her team for the invaluable support they provided for this meeting.