to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Canon Nathaniel in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in Rome

Fr Currer, Fr Nathaniel, Bishop Farrell
This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was a significant one for the Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel, the Archbishop's Ecumenical Officer and canon of this diocese. He was in Rome with me for some ecumenical meetings, and was able to have some fruitful conversations at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, with the Revd Tony Currer, who is responsible for Anglican Relations, and with the Secretary of the Council, Bishop Brian Farrell.

Eucharist at the Anglican Centre in Rome
Fr Leslie presided at the Tuesday Eucharist at the Anglican Centre in Rome, and had a chance to meet people from around the world and from many Church traditions who came to the Centre for this service during Unity Week. He was also able to have a brief conversation with the Pope, following the General Audience on Wednesday.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Farewell to Lotte, hello to Emma

Lotte Hiller and Emma Biaggi (with Diocesan Secretary Adrian Mumford)
A little "do" was held in our Tufton Street, Westminster Offices this week, to thank Lotte Hiller for her work for the past 2 years supporting our Appointments Secretary, Catherine Jackson. Lotte is handing over the reins to Emma Biaggi, who is now working with Catherine on matters to do with appointments, locum priests and clergy with Permission to Officiate. Emma knows our diocese well, having been a member of St George's Paris for many years,

Lotte is leaving us but not going far. She is working across the river at Lambeth Palace on the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff.

Catherine runs a very busy and active office. At any given time, there are about 40 vacancies in congregations of the diocese. Over 400 priests are on our "locum list".

Appointments Secretary Catherine Jackson

Friday, 23 January 2015

Archbishop of Canterbury's Ecumenical Secretary at Evensong in St Paul's Outside the Walls, Rome

The Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel is a canon of this diocese, and has a dual role for the Church of England: European Ecumenical Secretary for the Council for Christian Unity, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's International Ecumenical Secretary.

I was with Canon Nathaniel this past week in Rome for some ecumenical meetings. As this was during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we were able to attend a service of Anglican Evensong sung by the Choir of All Saints Rome at the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls. This Basilica, founded by the Emperor Constantine I, is built over the burial place of St Paul the Apostle. His tomb lies under the high altar. St Paul's Outside the Walls has a particular role in hosting ecumenical events.

Abbot Edmund Power (left) with some of his monks
The Basilica is also home to a community of Benedictine monks. Abbot Edmund Power and his brothers hosted the Anglican parish choir for evensong, and put on a splendid reception for us following the service.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Celebrations in church and at lunch - St Andrew's Fuengirola 25th anniversary

The 25th anniversary of the dedication of St Andrew's, Fuengirola, Costa del Sol East, was a time for many of the former clergy as well as the parish Readers, and, unusually, the future priest to gather for the celebration. I hope that it was a useful time for the Revd Alaric Lewis (3rd from left above) to see what shoes he has to fill!

A following the festive eucharist of thanksgiving on 19 January, over 50 parishioners continued the celebrations in a local restaurant.

St Andrew's in Fuengirola is one of 5 worship centres in the Costa del Sol East pastoral area, a region of outstanding beauty on the Mediterranean.

Monday, 19 January 2015

St Andrew's Costa del Sol East: the first 25 years celebrated in a festive weekend.

Fr Alaric Lewis and Mrs Peachie Elliot
25 years ago the Church of St Andrew, Fuengirola, was consecrated by Bishop John Satterthwaite, as a centre for the growing parish of Costa del Sol East, Spain. As existing Church of England buildings in mainland Spain were all dedicated to St George - in Madrid, Malaga and Barcelona - the then chaplain of Costa del Sol East, the Revd Ronald Matheson who spearheaded the building project, and of Scots extraction, decided that it was time to name a Church after the patron of Scotland!

One of St Andrew's senior parishioners Mrs Peachie Elliot (95) joined close to a hundred others who were present at the reception / party which was held on Saturday 17 January to mark the 25th anniversary. Former priests who have served as chaplains of Costa del Sol East were present for the anniversary weekend: Fr Ronald Matheson, Fr David Wright, Fr David Sutch, as well as Fr Hywell Davies who is the present locum priest.

They were joined by the Revd Alaric Lewis. Fr Alaric is about to become the next chaplain in Costa del Sol East, and will be moving to the parish in February. It was an excellent opportunity for him to meet his future parishioners and to begin to get a sense of the dynamic of the parish, now on the cusp of a new chapter in its life, under his leadership. Fittingly, he will be moving into a new vicarage, which bears the name Casa de la Esperanza, The House of Hope.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Feast of Our Lord's Baptism in Madrid: celebrated with Confirmations

In St George's Madrid, on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, several young persons and adults were confirmed. It was an auspicious day for confirmation, as central to that apostolic rite is the renewal of baptismal vows and the commemoration of our own baptism.

In most places that renewal of baptismal vows begins with a procession of the candidates to the place where our Christian life begins, the font. There the words of the Apostles Creed are recited, an ancient summary of the faith which has been used in the Western Church for more than 1600 years at baptism services. To commemorate their baptism the candidates then dip a hand hands into the water and sign themselves with the cross, a vivid reminder that through their baptism they belong to Christ, the one who, although sinless, entered the waters of the Jordan, as a sign of solidarity with the human race.

Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, urged people always to remember their baptism, by making the sign of the cross on themselves and saying "baptizatus sum"- "I am baptised".

St George's was once called "the British Embassy Church of St George". This was changed several years back for like most of our parishes in metropolitan centres, it is now a very multicultural congregation. Candidates came from many different backgrounds, with roots in many parts of the world, not just the UK.

St George's is served by the Chaplain, the Revd Paul Ormrod, an Assistant Curate, the Revd Nigel Thomas, and a Reader, Mrs Celia Paterson. The present building was consecrated 90 years ago, this March.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Commemortion of Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket - in Hungary

The relics of English Saint and Martyr, Archbishop Thomas Becket, are kept with great reverence at Esztergom, the primatial see of Hungary just north of Budapest.  According to legend, the relics were brought there following Becket's death by his friend and fellow primate, Cardinal Lukács Bánffy.

Each year in the week following Becket's feast day on December 29, the Sándor Rudnay Foundation of Hungary, under the direction of Bishop László Kiss-Rigó of Szeged, organises prayers at the Chapel of Saint Thomas Becket as well as a series of lectures.  This year's programme topic was: "Christian Roots, European Identity."

The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs, Anglican chaplain in Budapest, represented the Saint Margaret's community at the event and gave one of the blessings. British Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission to Hungary, Theresa Bubbear, was one of the featured lecturers.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Fr Ebrahim: ordained priest in Ankara

On the Feast of St Basil of Caesarea and St Gregory Nazianzus, 2 January, in St Nicholas Church, Ankara, Fr Ebrahim was ordained to the priesthood. He serves as an honorary assistant priest in St Nicholas's Church, which has a growing ministry among refugees from many neighbouring countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria. Fr Ebrahim was ordained deacon in his native Iran. The Diocese of Iran is part of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Iran was likely the country from which the Magi (in Farsi majousian) came who visited the Christ Child. Christian presence in Iran dates back to the earliest days of the Church. In the Acts of the Apostles (2.9) it is mentioned that on the Day of Pentecost, there were at Jerusalem Parthians, Medes, Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia. All these were peoples from the Persian empire of that day. There is a tradition that St Thomas preached the Gospel to the Parthians, and perhaps stayed some time in what is now Iran, before heading to his final destination, India.

To serve the Anglophone as well as the refugee community the worship in St Nicholas is often bilingual, English and Farsi. The liturgy is also available in written form in Arabic.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Christ Church Kiev celebrates Christmas with a priest this year

Christmas at Christ Church, Kiev
The Anglican Church in Kiev, Christ Church, a very international congregation in the Ukrainian capital, is determined to continue its regular life despite not having had a priest-in-charge for several years. At this time they are greatly helped by the presence in Kiev of the Revd Blair Carlson. Blair is an Anglican priest, ordained in Chichester diocese, who founded an organisation called GoodWORD. This is an agency which works with national Christian leaders in several regions of the world, supporting them with training for contextual outreach and evangelism. Blair is presently in Ukraine working with local Churches in training events across the country. He has extensive international experience. He was born of missionary parents in China. For many years he worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

I have given Blair Permission to Officiate and he is providing much needed priestly leadership in Christ Church. This year, he led the traditional Christmas Eve service. We are grateful to Blair for his support and assistance to this isolated community at this time.

The Revd Blair and Elizabeth Carlson

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

300 attend Carol Service on the Balcony of Europe

King Alfonso XII of Spain once visited Nerja on the Costa del Sol and stepped out onto a viewpoint in the old town which has wonderful sea vistas. He proclaimed that the spot was "the Balcony of Europe". Today the Balcón de Europa, is a much visited tourist site in this Mediterranean town.

The Anglican Parish of Nerja and Almuñécar takes advantage of this famous spot as a point of outreach to the many English-speaking visitors to the area. The locum priest currently serving the parish, the Revd Peter Ford, held a carol service on the Balcón on Christmas Eve. 300 people attended!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas to Eurobishop readers

For the second year in a row, as I was writing Christmas cards I wrote one to a dear friend, not knowing if he is dead or alive. Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo was kidnapped on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish border on 22 April 2013. His Greek Orthodox brother Archbishop of Aleppo Boulos Yazigi was kidnapped at the same time.

Mar Gregorios has been a voice for peace and harmony between religions and peoples. For close to 20 years I have known him and his patient and deep faith has inspired me and taught me much about dialogue and love. Just months before his kidnapping he asked me to come with him on one of his frequent journeys to monasteries and communities north of Aleppo so that I could see how Christians in the region seek to live in peaceful co-existence with their neighbours. He wanted me to bring my sons so they would learn from this experience as well. We never made the trip.

Since his disappearance the region of Syria and Iraq has become a complex theatre of war. 9 million Syrians alone have been displaced from their homes; 3 million of them have sought safety in neighbouring countries. (It is almost embarrassing to mention that the UK has admitted approximately 90 Syrian refugees – yes, that’s right, about 90. The UK has given about €700 M in humanitarian aid to the region, however). The Syrian conflict is now considered to be the world’s largest humanitarian and security disaster.

I wondered if I should bother sending Mar Gregorios a greeting this year, as it is not even known if he is alive. But I reflected that what this peaceful bishop has stood for, I should never forget. Christmas is a time to trust in God’s plan to liberate the oppressed. It is a time to renew our faith in Emmanuel, God with us, who brings healing to a crying world. It is a time of hope. I wrote the card.
To the Christ child of Bethlehem we pray: out of injustice, out of warfare, out of fear, lift every human heart this Christmas.

A happy and blessed Christmas to all Eurobishop readers.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Best wishes for a happy and long retirement for Sylvia Brantingham

Sylvia Brantingham, the office assistant at the 14 Tufton Street centre of the diocese, retires, again!

Sylvia began her working career in the Church in 1967, in the office of the General Synod. She retired from that position in 1997, having worked under 4 Archbishops of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggin, Robert Runcie and George Carey!.She then worked for the Church Union, located at that time across the road from our Diocesan offices in Westminster. Upon retirement from that job, she came to work for us in 2003.

Sylvia is most often the first person our many visitors meet as she welcomes them and fixes them tea or coffee. She is also the one who most frequently answers the telephone and directs enquiries appropriately. Being at the heart of our busy offices, she knows all our challenges, joys and frustrations - and faithfully prays for us all!

We recently honoured Sylvia at the staff Christmas lunch and at our annual "Secret Santa" session. We will miss her, and wish her every happiness and good health in this her third retirement!