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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.



Saturday, 13 February 2021

Looking for a Lent Resource: This is highly recommended!

Among the Anglican Communion's Five Marks of Mission, it is perhaps the fifth mark "to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the Earth" that has an urgent resonance for people of all faiths, and none. We are living in a damaged world in the midst of a climate emergency and time is running out for us to stop and change direction; we have no other planet to go to. 

With Lent fast approaching, I wish to commend a resource produced by USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). It is a set of 6 studies, exploring environmental justice from Anglican perspecrives around the world entitled For Such a Time as This. This resource is available in PDF format here. Each study provides a reflection from a global partner, biblical extracts for reflection, questions for discussion, prayers and a simple action or commitment. The beauty of this resource is that it is easy for small groups to manage. Although written with a UK audience in mind, (hence references in the actions to saving "pence" or eating UK vegetables) it is rich with experiences from around the world which make is particularly attractive for our international diocese. 

If you are looking for an easy to use Lenten resource, I would highly recommend this. Of course, it is applicable for use at any time of the year. 

The Diocese in Europe has prioritised addressing environmental issues, as individuals, church communities, and in the diocese as a whole. USPG is a major partner and friend of our own diocesan life and mission. Rebecca Boardman, one of the senior staff at USPG (and a former worker in our refugee projects in Greece) sits on our Mission and Public Affairs Unit, which is chaired by Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel. USPG's historic predecessor SPG, founded many of our present day chaplaincies. 



Photos courtesy of USPG

Friday, 22 January 2021

Ecumenism of the Cross

A tragic on Wednesday afternoon this week killed at least 4 persons in buildings belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid parish of the Virgen de la Paloma in the heart of the Spanish capital. One priest was among those who died. The building was close to a school, where, due to the snow, the children were not in the playground, or else there would likely have been further tragic deaths and injuries. Reader Celia Paterson who serves in St George's Madrid, knows some of the teachers and LaSalle Brothers at the school, for she has trained them in Godly Play courses. Celia has been in contact with them.  

I also sent a message to the Cardinal Archbishop on behalf of Anglicans. In this week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we remember that we are also united in times of grief and sorrow. The International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, IARCCUM, of which I am the Anglican Co-chairman, describes what we call "the ecumenism of the Cross". 

Su Eminencia

En nombre de nuestro pueblo de la parroquia de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, St George, Madrid, deseo enviarle nuestro más sentido pésame por las muertes tras la explosión de ayer en los edificios de la parroquia de la Virgen de la Paloma. Tengo entendido que hasta el momento han muerto 4 personas, entre ellas uno de sus sacerdotes, el padre Rubén Pérez Ayala, y muchas más han sufrido heridas graves.

Ofrecemos nuestras oraciones por todos los que han muerto, para que el Señor los reciba en su paz eterna. Oramos también para que Dios ayude a los heridos y consuele a los que han perdido a sus seres queridos.

En esta Semana de Oración por la Unidad de los Cristianos, unimos nuestros corazones en solidaridad con nuestras hermanas y hermanos de su Arquidiócesis, les enviamos nuestro amor fraterno y les aseguramos nuestra oración continua.

Atentamente y fraternalmente


Friday, 15 January 2021

Mgr Mark Langham, RIP



Mgr Mark Langham at the Anglican Consultative Council, New Zealand, 2012 

Anglicans around the world, particularly those who have been closely involved in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, join our Catholic sisters and brothers who are mourning the death of Mgr Mark Langham. Fr Mark died in hospice care early this morning after a struggle with cancer. He was the Chaplain of Fisher House, the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy at Cambridge University. Before that he worked from 2008 to 2013 at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, where he was responsible for relations with the Anglican Communion and with the Methodists. During that time, he served as the Roman Catholic Co-Secretary of ARCIC, and also was among the official representatives of the Catholic Church at the Lambeth Conference of 2008, and at meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council.

As a dialogue partner Mark was meticulous and clear in his thinking, and had the extraordinary gift of finding common ground while honouring to the fullest his own Catholic position. So many of us remember his infectious sense of humour and often hilarious tales of life at the Vatican. He was always a convivial companion around a glass of wine or over dinner. 

In early January as he was moved to hospice care he wrote to friends, "I would ask for no fuss, or messages. I am a firm believer in the communion of saints, and it is your love and prayers that will sustain me most at this time." 

May God now receive him into the communion of the saints in light, and grant this faithful servant eternal rest. 

Thursday, 24 December 2020

A safe and joyful Christmas to all!

 

"Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem" by Kristoffer Trolle is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This extraordinarily difficult year is drawing to a close, a year marked by much loneliness, despair, suffering and death, due to the pandemic. But we have learned some lessons, including valuing what we have hitherto taken for granted, and appreciating with new awareness so many of the simple gifts which God provides. 

But the greatest gift is the one we celebrate in the Nativity 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'.  

So we celebrate God who is with us in the world, Emmanuel. Our response is a renewed love for all, and a new delight in the good things of this world which God provides for us.

To all the clergy and people of this Diocese in Europe, my thanks for your support and collaboration over this past year, and together with friends and readers of this blog I wish you a Christmas full of blessing. Wherever you are, I pray you will be able to celebrate this glorious feast safely and with joy.






 

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Interfaith declaration on the sanctity and dignity of all, celebrated in Westminster Abbey


Last Wednesday, an important interfaith declaration was launched, with signatures from faith leaders from over 50 countries around the world, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh. 

The Declaration calls for an end to violence and criminalisation against LGBT+ people and for a global ban on conversion therapy. The Church of England's General Synod in 2018 supported such a ban, as being an unethical, potentially harmful practice with "no place in the modern world". 

An interfaith service of prayer was held at Westminster Abbey to mark this important step. It was a dignified (and socially distanced) service, and perhaps fitting that the Abbey was already decorated for  Christmas, when Christians celebate the new life which was born into the world, calling us towards love for all our sisters and brothers. The service concluded at  the innocent victims memorial, just outside the West Door of the Abbey, a memorial to men, women and children who have suffered death, torture and oppression throughout the world. 


This is the interfaith text: 

Declaring The Sanctity Of Life And The Dignity Of All

We come together as senior religious leaders, academics, and lay leaders from around the world to affirm the sanctity of life and dignity of all.

We affirm that all human beings of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order.

We affirm that we are all equal under God, whom many call the Divine, and so we are all equal to one another.

We, therefore, call for all to be treated equally under the law.

We recognize with sadness that certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.

We acknowledge, with profound regret, that some of our teachings have created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence. This has led, and continues to lead, to the rejection and alienation of many by their families, their religious groups and cultural communities.

We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching.

We believe that love and compassion should be the basis of faith and that hatred can have no place in religion.

We call on all nations to put an end to criminalisation on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, for violence against LGBT+ people to be condemned and for justice to be done on their behalf.

We call for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – commonly known as “conversion therapy” – to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.

Finally, we call for an end to the perpetuation of prejudice and stigma and commit to work together to celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity


Information about the Declaration can be found here

Sunday, 13 December 2020

St John the Baptist, justice and discipleship

St John the Baptist, herald of justice

Advent for us in the northern hemisphere is at the time of the shortest days of the year. In the midst of the Advent darkness we have today's Gaudete Sunday, the title taken from the ancient introit, "Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near". The hint of promised joy which will pierce our darkness is seen as we light the third candle on the Advent wreath, which is normally pink, and with rose vestments at the mass instead of the more sombre purple. Today's Gospel features the great Advent figure, St John the Baptist. The writer of the Fourth Gospel proclaims, "He came as a witness to testify to the light". 

Last week on the agenda of the diocesan synod were some matters of justice: the care for God's creation and the renunciation of all forms of racism. We also were introduced to the Church of England-wide process, Living in Love and Faith, a comprehensive study of just about all aspects of human sexuality, but which also addresses matters of justice, as the dignity of all human beings regardless of sexuality, created in God's image and loved unconditionally by God, cannot be taken away. 

Justice is at the heart of our calling as disciples; the followers of Jesus Christ, living lives in pursuit of justice, is how we help to bring light into a darkened world. For that reason, I am grateful for the alternative collect for this Sunday: 

God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord.

I think I am correct that our congregation in Varese, in Northern Italy, is the only congregation in the diocese whose patron is the herald of justice, St John the Baptist. My last visit there was in the middle of October, squeezed in between two lockdowns. It is a community where both light and joy can be felt and where the candidates for confirmation were ready to take the light of Christ's justice into the world.  

Confirmations in St John the Baptist, Varese

 

Friday, 27 November 2020

Journey into Advent with Mark

 

St Mark, traditionally held to be the founder of the Church in Alexandria


Advent begins this Sunday. Our Director of Lay Discipleship, Dr Clare Amos, has been busy preparing some resources to help the faithful of the diocese to enter into the spirituality of this season. 

This Monday 30 November, 18.00 Central European Time (17.00 GMT), Clare will lead a reflection on the Gospel of Mark. This brief overview of the emphasis that Mark lays out in his Gospel, will be helpful for us as Mark is the Gospel we will be mostly be reading from on Sundays during this "Year B" of the Common Lectionary. 

Clare's reflections will be in the context of a brief liturgy called "A Service of Meditations for the Beginning of Advent". Clare is a Biblical scholar (among many other things) and a very engaging teacher. Do join us for this "Journey into Advent with Mark". The livestream is on the Diocesan YouTube channel:  

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGJClP-qZ1YGN_4CUhIqi4g


Clare also runs for us a blog with weekly lectionary reflections from a European perspective. The blog is entitled "Exploring Faith in Europe". It can be found here: https://faithineurope.net/. Take a look at this site. In her current post Clare tells us why she is excited about Mark's Gospel quoting theologian Chris Burdon: ‘In the end, there are two ways of dealing with the Gospel according to Mark: either we throw the book away and opt for a gentler religion, or we act on it and attempt to follow this man (Jesus) through glory and through terror.’ 

Tune in and join the excitement, and learn about the glory and terror, on 30 November!






Thursday, 26 November 2020

Happy Thanksgiving to the clergy and people of the Diocese who come from the USA

 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay 

Today we wish a very happy Thanksgiving to the many folk across the diocese in Europe who come from the USA. In that country it is a national holiday and a day of thanks, which may have its origin back to 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and members of the Wampanoag nation shared an autumn harvest feast, together enjoying the fruits of the earth. 

In our multinational/multicultural Diocese in Europe, we rejoice in the ministry, witness, generosity and support that so many from the United States bring to our common life. We also recognise that for many of our US friends and colleagues this year's holiday will be a difficult time. Some have endured months or more of separation from loved ones. Some have lost family or friends, or are worried about those close to them who are sick. Some are concerned for values of truth and justice in their homeland. So we pray with you, the prayer for this day in the Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church, USA:

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


Wednesday, 18 November 2020

We mourn the passing of two pioneering leaders of our diocese

This has been a sad week in the Diocese in Europe. Two great pioneers of our work, one in Finland, and the other in Poland died in the last couple of days. 

Mr Geoffrey Phillips receiving the Maundy Money in Westminster Abbey

Mr Geoffrey Phillips died on 16 November after a long struggle with cancer. He served the Anglican Church in Finland for many years as a Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) in particular supporting the work of the English speaking congregation in Turku where he lived. He was an enthusiastic promotor of the Porvoo Agreement, and our good relations in Turku are due, in no small measure, to the respect with which he was held by our Church in Finland partners over the 25 years of the Agreement. 

He was generous in every way to the Anglican work in Finland, and we thank God for his faithful and loving ministry, and for his kind consideration of the future of our work there. The Chaplain of St Nicholas Helsinki and Area Dean for Finland, the Revd Tuomas Mäkipää writes: 

"It is with great sadness that I must share the news of Geoffrey’s death. He died yesterday after fighting cancer for two years. Geoffrey will be remembered for his welcoming smile, friendship and patience; for his services to the Diocese in Europe and Anglican Chaplaincy in Finland as Licensed Reader and benefactor. He received the Royal Maundy from the Queen in 2011.

Geoffrey was an active member of the Turku Cathedral International Congregation until very recently, occasionally preaching, preparing the prayers of intercession and assisting at the Holy Communion. He and his wife Meg made a large donation to the Diocese in Europe and the Chaplaincy in Finland. He did not wish the donation to be anonymous but did not asked for great publicity either: after serving the Anglican Church for years, he was also concerned for her future well-being.

Geoffrey’s funeral service is at the Ylösnousemuskappeli (Chapel of Resurrection) in Turku on Thursday at 2 p.m (GMT+2). There is no gathering after the service due to current restrictions. Instead of flowers, donations to cancer research are suggested."

Geoffrey is survived by his wife Meg.

Fr Bob Gamble presiding in Krakow

And yesterday we learned that the Revd Robert Gamble, a retired priest in Poland, died. Fr Bob, as he was known, laid the foundation for our present work in Warsaw, and indeed in what has become officially recognised and registered in the country as "The Anglican Church in Poland". Fr Bob was an Episcopalian, originally from Philadelphia. His love for Poland developed long before the fall of the iron curtain. He was held in great esteem in the country, particularly in the city of Poznan where he lived, for his work in communications, social outreach and publishing. (He brought the Harry Potter saga to Poland). 

The Revd David Brown the Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Poland wrote yesterday: 

"Fr Bob died earlier this morning, very peacefully, in a Poznan hospital. His closest relative is his son Dominic in Texas in  the United States. Bob has been a great friend to the Chaplaincy here in Poland for more than 20 years  He has given so much  to many, many people in his life and has always  had a great, warm, generous, giving heart for the needy, the vulnerable and those experiencing difficulties in their lives."   


O God, your mercies are more than we can know; hear our prayers for your servants Geoffrey and Robert; and welcome them into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of all your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Tuesday, 3 November 2020

St Martin de Porres, USA, Social Justice


Today is the commemoration of St Martin de Porres, a Dominican friar, born in Lima, Peru in 1579, of a Spanish nobleman and a freed African slave. Because of his care for all regardless of class or colour he is considered the patron saint of race relations and social justice. Perhaps a fitting saint to be celebrated on this election day in the USA.

There are many US citizens who live and work in this diocese (including a number of our clergy). Almost all I have spoken to have eagerly taken advantage of mail-in voting and have exercised their democratic right. We pray today for the USA, in the words of a collect from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church: 

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and the nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In another connection with our circumstances today, St Martin de Porres, during an epidemic in Lima, broke the rules of the convent to minister and care for the sick who were kept behind locked doors. He was disciplined by superiors, but responded: "Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity" 

The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar is twinned with the Anglican Diocese of Peru. 

St Martin de Porres died on this day in 1639.

God, you aroused in Martin de Porres a sense of Christian social conscience to help the poor and needy. Let this same sense of social justice flourish in us, in our nations, and in our world today, to bring about a new rebirth of hope. 


Monday, 2 November 2020

Ecumenical outreach to the needy in Lanzarote

St Laurence's, Lanzarote

A plan to take advantage of a travel corridor still open between the UK and the Canary Islands has been cancelled: a visit to the chaplaincy of St Laurence, Lanzarote, on 14-15 November. Last Saturday night new English lockdown arrangements effective from 5 November were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnston. Travel within the country and abroad is now not possible, unless considered essential. So, sadly, Lanzarote is added to the growing pile of cancelled pastoral visits dating back to last March. The chaplain, the Revd Canon Stan Evans was very understanding. 

In Lanzarote the mission of the chaplaincy to reach out to the lost and marginalised on the island has been growing. Fr Stan is working with his Roman Catholic colleague, Fr Agustin Lasso, to look at ways to work together to serve the 600 families who are in desperate need on the island, reaching out "with the compassion of Christ as so many are hurting or are bruised at this time". There was bountiful and generous support in the parish's recent harvest festival which will greatly help this joint mission. "Together we can do so much more than apart".

Clearly, many things are cancelled because of COVID-19; but across the diocese, love and compassion are not among them! 




Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Celebrating Holy Paradox

Syrian Orthodox Church, SE Turkey

Dr Clare Amos, the Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship, has written a wonderful reflection on the forthcoming feast of All Saints. She reflects on "the intrincally paradoxical nature of our faith": 

All Saints Day is actually the celebration of the ridiculous paradox that WE are ‘all saints’, at least potentially, even if honesty forces us to admit that it doesn’t always seem like that in the present. In fact if we (mistakenly) put our focus on ‘All Saints Day’ on the great and traditional saints of the church’s history – we miss the meaning of the Feast.   

Clare also draws on the Syriac tradition in the Christian Church, which has significan roots in the far south east of this Diocese in Europe.    

You can find the full article on the Faith in Europe blog which can be found here:  https://faithineurope.net/

The Faith in Europe blog is but one part of Clare's work, and is valuable for all preachers and others who wish to reflect, week by week, on the lectionary readings, from a European perspective.