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.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

St Andrew's Tangier welcomes a resident priest-in-charge

The Revd Joe Ponic (centre) with Parish Reps Irwin Timms (left) and Leyton Williams. Canon Medhat Sabry of Casablanca is on the right
St Andrew's Church in Tangier is about to enter a new phase of its life. This historic Church, built in 1894 on land donated to the British Community by King Hassan I of Morocco, is home to an international community of English-speaking Christians. For decades the parish has been served by a rota of faithful locum priests who spend a brief time in the city ministering to what was at one time a largely British expatriate population.

In recent years the parish has grown and the profile of the foreign community has changed significantly. Now St Andrew's serves many people from sub-saharan African countries, as well British, US, Australian and other expat communities. There are new opportunities for ministry with foreign students who are attending some international university programmes based in Tangier.

After a period of consultation with the Churchwardens about the future, we agreed to move ahead to appoint a long-term resident priest-in-charge. The Revd Joseph Ponic was interviewed for the post on 8 September, and appointed. He begins his ministry almost immediately. Fr Joe comes from the Diocese of Saskatoon in Canada, about as contrasting a place as is possible from Morocco! He has a long experience in interim ministry and in parishes in Canada. He has also taught for a while in Egypt.

St Andrew's is one of several churches in the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar which are showing remarkable signs of growth and potential and it is good that the parish now has a resident priest-in-charge to accompany the congregation in these next important steps. We welcome Fr Joe to this diocese.

St Andrew's is an architectural gem. The interior is designed with Moorish elements. A historic cemetery adjoins the Church. The property is looked after by Yaseem, a Muslim who lives on the site. His father Mustafa was the caretaker for many years before him.

The French artist Henri Matisse has painted St Andrew's. The original hangs in a museum in Moscow.

Yaseem the Caretaker

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

College of Bishops begins the conversations on human sexuality


The College of Bishops is in meetings right now in Leicestershire. We are beginning the process of shared conversations on human sexuality, one of the outcomes of the Pilling Report which was pubished about 18 months ago. Representatives in each diocese of the Church of England will eventually be engaging in this process, and these confidential discussions among the bishops are the start.

It is clear that the aim of the conversations are not so much to reach agreement on the issues related to human sexuality, given the range of strongly-held convictions across the Church and among the bishops on these matters. However, it is hoped that we will be able to "disagree well" as David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Director of Reconciliation has put it.

Those of us in the Diocese in Europe have a range of views on these issues, of course. It is interesting however that we have lived with a reality in many of our countries that England is just coming to terms with. Civil partnership-type arrangements and in some cases same-sex marriage has been legal in many European countries for quite some time, and not only in what is commonly thought to be the "liberal" Nordic countries. For instance, traditional Catholic countries like Portugal, Spain and Belgium permit same-sex marriages. There are also some European Churches with which the Church of England is in communion, which permit their clergy to bless same-sex unions. On the other hand some countries in the Diocese have no provision for same-sex unions and a few still have rather weak anti-discrimination legislation relating to the LGBT community. And, of course, many of our ecumenical partners firmly maintain the teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman.

So, in addition to our own personal positions, the members of the Diocese in Europe have a very wide range of perspectives to bring from the countries where we are present and from our wider ecumenical relations.



Saturday, 13 September 2014

Holy Cross Day, 14 September

This Sunday is Holy Cross Day. As we gather together around the sign which is both the instrument of suffering, as well as the victory-sign of Christ, it will be an appropriate time to pray for suffering and persecuted peoples in the Middle East, and to unite with them in solidarity and faith.
God of Compassion,, hear the cries of the people of Syria and Iraq.Comfort those who suffer violence, console those who mourn the dead.Give strength to all who welcome the refugees.Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms and protect those who are committed to peace.God of hope, inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with their enemies.Fill us with compassion for the people of Syria and Iraq and give us hope for a future built on justice for all. We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Light of the world.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Deacon Frances to be an Honorary Minor Canon of Southwark Cathedral

The Revd Deacon Frances Hiller has been invited to be an Honorary Minor Canon of Southwark Cathedral. This, as the title indicates, is an honorary position - we are not losing her from the diocese. Deacon Frances continues to serve as my chaplain, supporting my work in the Diocese in Europe. But this is wonderful recognition of her ministry as a deacon given by her London home, Southwark Cathedral.

Many congratulations, Frances!

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Reverend Mary-Ellen Dolan: new priest in Málaga

The Reverend Mary-Ellen Dolan has arrived in Spain to take up the post of priest-in-charge of Málaga. She comes from being Interim Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd and St John the Evangelist, Milford, PA, USA. Her new responsibilities took effect from, Monday 1 September.

Mary-Ellen, an Irish citizen and a priest for 19 years, comes to this diocese with a rich and varied experience. She has served the (US) Episcopal Church's parishes in Wiesbaden, Germany and Waterloo, Belgium. She continues to serve as Secretary of the Francophone Network of the Anglican Communion, having worked for many years in Francophone Africa. Besides her formal training for priestly ministry she is also trained in spiritual direction. And in addition Mary-Ellen also has professional qualifications in psychiatric nursing, which might be a useful skill for anyone in ministry!

A service of licensing will take place on  Friday 19 September 2014 at 12 noon in St George's Church, led by the Acting Archdeacon, the Revd Canon Geoffrey Johnston.

We welcome Mary-Ellen to this diocese.

The parish of Málaga includes the historic Church of St George in Málaga city and daughter congregations, particularly Vélez Málaga.

St George's Málaga

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Rejoicing in faith and sharing in pain - an ecumenical statement from Christian leaders in the UK

His Grace Bishop Angaelos: front, 2nd from left
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and the Moderator of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, CTBI, initiated an ecumenical gathering which was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury today in London.

At the meeting, discussions were held about the plight of Christians and minority communities in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East. The following statement was agreed, which expresses solidarity with all those who continue to suffer gross violations of their rights and freedoms.


3 September 2014

A new situation has arisen which creates a state of emergency in the Middle East for Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities. The recent increase in violence and aggression has resulted in gross violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in the region. We gathered today as Christians including those originally from the Middle East to stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and sisters who seek to practice their faith and belief in lands where they have been a continuing presence for centuries.

The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity, and home to indigenous Christian communities that have been an indispensable part of its history. Despite the challenges, Christians in the region were and are a stabilising and reconciling presence. Today, particularly in Iraq and Syria, they are at great risk from violence fostered by extremist ideologies which no longer see them as being part of the future. The Middle East is in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture.

We are seeing an extreme religious ideology that knows no limits in its persecution of those who are culturally or religiously different. Those who promote this intolerance must be challenged and the perpetrators of violence held to account. The suffering of those who bear the brunt of its terror requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic group or religious minority, they come from. We must provide relief and safety for those displaced and in fear of their lives in consultation with our partners in the region. We must also bring pressure to bear on those who can provide security to those affected.

In meeting and praying together, we give thanks for our brothers and sisters as they continue to live their Christian faith with strength and perseverance. We commit to continue to stand with them in prayer, to speak for freedom from persecution for Christians and all other religious communities and those of no faith who live as minority groups across the region. We also continue to urge Her Majesty’s Government to work within the international community to safeguard and provide for all those affected.

To our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, We “share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance.” Revelation 1:9

Canon Gordon Reid visits us on retirement day 2

Tufton Street welcomed a dear friend and former senior colleague in the Diocese in Europe this week. On Tuesday, the Revd Canon Gordon Reid dropped in to see us, on the 2nd day of his retirement from full-time ministry. He literally presided at his last mass as Rector of St Clement's, Philadelphia, and caught a plane to London, en route to Edinburgh, his home town.

Fr Gordon had a distinguished ministry in this diocese, serving as a priest in Ankara, Stockholm, Milan as well as sometime Dean of Gibraltar and Vicar General of the Diocese.  As he has been a priest for 47 years, so far, it was an occasion for some congratulations.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

AOCICC meets in Kilkenny

AOCICC members leaving St Canice Cathedral, Kilkenny

The world of inter-church relations is known for its "alphabet soup" of acronyms and not many members of the Diocese in Europe will have AOCICC at the tip of their tongue. AOCICC stands for the "Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council. It is a body which supports and nurtures the relationship of communion between the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Anglican Communion. Since Europe is the one region of the world where Old Catholic and Anglican Churches live closely together, the work of AOCICC has a particular significance for us.

Besides myself there is another person from the Diocese in Europe who is a member of this Council, Jennifer Knudsen, who is a member of our parish in Bonn and Cologne.

This session of meetings is being held in Kilkenny, Ireland, at the invitation of the Anglican Co-Chairman of the Council, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory. The Old Catholic Co-Chairman is Bishop Dick Schoon of Haarlem.

Anglicans in Europe should know about their Old Catholic brothers and sisters, but some may not. Anglicans and Old Catholics established full communion through the Bonn Agreement of 1931. The agreement means that Anglicans and Old Catholics are welcome to participate fully in each other's worship and receive communion at celebrations of the eucharist. Clergy may act fully in each other's churches.

Old Catholics date their present movement from two moments in history. First of all in 1723, the Cathedral Chapter of Utrecht in the Netherlands insisted on its historic right to elect its Archbishop. The Pope refused this rightt. The Chapter acted independently and a new Archbishop was consecrated by a French Bishop. This led to a break with Rome. Then in 1870 the First Vatican Council declared the infallibility and universal immediate jurisdiction of the Pope to be an article of faith. In Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, some RC clergy and people opposed this new dogma. They wanted to retain their Catholic identity, however, and they turned to the Church in Utrecht for support. In Germany, clergy and laity elected a bishop and he was consecrated by the Archbishop of Utrecht. Old Catholic jurisdictions can now be found in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and Croatia, with other small communities in France.

Sometimes Anglicans are curious about the name "Old Catholic". Certainly Old Catholics are not 'old-fashioned' or 'elderly'. 'Old' signifies their desire to follow the faith of the Early Church, without the 19th century innovations from the Vatican.

The members of AOCICC



Friday, 22 August 2014

The Churches of Hungary Honour Patron Saint Stephen

The Churches of Hungary honoured the Hungarian patron saint, King Stephen, in an ecumenical prayer service on the vigil of his festival day, 19 August.  The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs, Chaplain of Saint Margaret's Anglican Church in Budapest, participated as representative of the parish and the Anglican Communion. The Church of England is one of the officially recognised Churches of Hungary.  Father Frank (seen in the above photo in surplice) also gave one of the blessings at the conclusion of the service.  20 August is a national holiday in Hungary.

Friday, 1 August 2014

On leave

I will be taking some leave from 1 to 20 August. Do not expect too many blog updates during this time! My chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller (+44 (0) 20 7898 1161), or the staff at the diocesan office (+44 (0) 020 7898 1155) are able to get messages to me in case of urgent need.
¡Hasta luego!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Gaza: some analysis and an appeal

Al Ahli Hospital, Gaza: A project of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East
In the midst of various news reports and statements about current crisis in Gaza, I have found the following statement from Christian Aid, This is not about Gaza, to be a helpful and insightful comment, recalling some wider facts which are often overlooked. It calls clearly for an end to impunity for those who carry out attacks on civilians.

Christian Aid is the relief and development agency sponsored by the major non-Roman Catholic UK Churches, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox, Reformed, Baptist, Independent and others. It works in close alliance with CAFOD, the Roman Catholic relief and development agency. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is presently the chairman of the Christian Aid board. This diocese in Europe has partnered with Christian Aid, most recently in raising funds for an education project for Afghan women and girls, through our Lent Appeal.

I quote the statement below, in full. The Christian Aid website is here. A resource with prayers, readings and intercessions for the Gaza crisis can be found on their site here.

The Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East has a presence in Gaza, including running the Al-Ahli hospital. Like the other hospitals in Gaza, Al-Ahli hospital is experiencing severe shortages in medicine, fuel for electrical generators, food for patients, and food parcels for many in the community seeking this help. The Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East have launched an appeal for the hospital. Details can be found here.

The Revd Clive Fairclough: new Chaplain of St Andrew's Moscow

The Reverend Clive Anthony Fairclough has been appointed Chaplain of St Andrew's Church, Moscow. He comes to this diocese from Worcester where he has been Rector of the Flyfords Benefice, Priest-in-Charge of the United Parish of Fladbury, Cropthorne, Wyre Piddle, Lower Moor and Charlton and Associate Priest of the Bowland Benefice. He takes up his new post on 8th August 2014.Fr Anthony will also be the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarios (official representative) to the Patriarch of Moscow. We welcome Fr Clive and his wife Joanna to this diocese.

St Andrew's is one of the most international of our parishes in the diocese, with members drawn from every continent. Church of England worship in Moscow dates 1553 when Tsar Ivan the Terrible allowed the first non-Russian-Orthodox services, at that time for the English traders employed by the Russia Company. The church and parsonage were confiscated by the Bolsheviks in 1920, and used for various purposes, including as a recording studio for the Soviet State music company Melodiya. Until 1991 when St Andrew's was reopened for Anglican worship, services had to be held in the British Embassy.

Fr Clive succeeds the Revd Canon Dr Simon Stephen's who has been Chaplain since 1999. Fr Simon celebrated his last Sunday in St Andrew's on 15 June. He has taken up a volunteer post in the Province of Melanesia (the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), which could not be a more contrasting place to Moscow!

Fr Simon Stephens at his last service in St Andrew's