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.

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

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Solidarity in prayer with the Coptic Church

St Samuel the Confessor Monastery, Egypt

I have sent a message of solidarity on behalf of the people of this Diocese in Europe to Archbishop Angaelos, the Coptic Archbishop of London, on learning the news of the killing of 7 pilgrims travelling to St Samuel Monastery yesterday. Dozens more have been injured.
Your Eminence, dear Brother in Christ: once again our beloved Coptic sisters and brothers are mourning the deaths of pilgrims killed by terrorists in Egypt. I assure you of my prayers and those of our own communities for those who have died and for those who now mourn. May the Lord grant strength and consolation to your people and deliver Egypt from these acts of violence. In fraternal love +David
Please remember the victims, their families and the Coptic Church in the intercessions on Sunday.
Eternal God, in whose perfect realm no sword is drawn but the sword of justice, and no strength known but the strength of love: guide and inspire all who seek your kingdom, that peoples and nations may find their security in the love which casts out fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. 
Archbishop Angaelos

Friday, 2 November 2018

St Philip and St James Church in Palma: a vibrant community church

The Anglican Church of St Philip and St James in Palma de Mallorca is one of three congregations on the island (the others being Puerto Pollensa and Cala d'Or). Last weekend on a brief parish visit to Palma, I was able to catch up with the priest, the Revd David Waller, the Churchwardens and the members of the Chaplaincy Council to hear of their life and activities.

The chaplaincy seeks to maintain a profile in the English speaking community in Palma through many of its own activities and through providing a venue and support for other groups. On any given week, one can find times for meditation, prayer, and mindfulness, as well as drama, music (choirs and jazz) and fund raising events. Of course at the heart of the community life is the Sunday sung eucharist. One senses that the spiritual and community life of the parish is in a healthy state, with much joyful and committed lay support. 

On 28 October at the Sunday mass, several persons were confirmed. Like so many of our Spanish chaplaincies the diversity of the congregation at St Philip and St James Church continues to grow, as Anglicans from all over the world (and English speaking Christians) find a warm welcome and spiritual nurture in our congregations.

Fr David Waller is also Area Dean for Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. In Palma he is assisted by two clergy from the Uniting Church in Australia, the Revds Viv and Ron Larkin, who have permission as ministers of the Word, under the provisions of the Ecumenical Canons of the Church of England.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Pan Africa Day in St George's Madrid

Pan African Sunday, 30 September, at St George's Madrid included a service of confirmation, a Nigerian choir and an African feast after the mass. It was a day of exuberant joy. It felt like St George's was truly an place of international encounter for the many Christians in Madrid who speak English or who are from an Anglican background.

However, there was sad news for the chaplaincy that day. I had to announce that their beloved Chaplain, the Revd Canon Paul Ormrod, would be leaving. Fr Paul has been appointed to St John's Montreux and he and his wife Jill will be saying farewell to St George's at the end of December.

Book Sale at St George's
It has been such a fruitful time for the Ormrods in Madrid. He will leave behind a thriving multicultural community as was in evidence that Sunday. There is a vibrant Sunday School and three services each Sunday. The Church Council includes a good cross section of the parish, including some young adults. (I think possibly the youngest Churchwarden in the diocese serves St George's). There are numerous events which serve both the wider community in Madrid as well as bringing people to the Church and helping them make contact with this historic Anglican parish. Fr Paul has also been a key link to ecumenical partners in the city, especially the Roman Catholics. My pastoral visit coincided with one of the important outreach events in St George's, the Book Sale. Fr Paul also took me to visit the Misioneras de la Unidad, a Roman Catholic order in the city who run an ecumenical centre. There we met a young woman, Syrian Orthodox, who is a refugee from her home Syria, and heard her moving story.

The Archdeacon of Gibraltar will soon be beginning the to work with the parish in preparing the search for a new priest to build on the outstanding work of Fr Paul

Syrian refugee (left) at the Ecumenical Centre in Madrid

St George's ministry team includes Reader Celia Paterson, who is also an international leader in ministry with young people through her work on Godly Play. Celia serves on the board of Godly Play España and on the Godly Play International Council. Solomon Ike, originally from Nigeria, is a member of St George's now preparing for the Sacred Ministry.

Fr Paul, Solomon Ike, Celia Paterson in back row

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A recent Reader training workshop: "Total joy and inspiration"

Canon Elaine Labourel introduces the weekend workshop
Readers (Licensed Lay Ministers) and those in training for that ministry recently came together in Woking, England, for a workshop on the ministry of preaching. Organised by the Director of Reader Ministry, Canon Elaine Labourel, this workshop included some theological reflection on the doctrine of revelation, how God communicates divine truth to the human community, some principles of Anglican preaching, as well as practical guidance and skill enhancement in homiletics. The Revd Dale Hanson of St Mark's Versailles was a key resource person for the event. As Warden of Readers, I was also able to spend some hours with the participants.

Reader Angela Mirani (left) was the first Reader I admitted to this office back in 2003

These training events are very well supported by the Readers, and are generally oversubscribed! One participant thanked Canon Labourel for her encouraging leadership, "because of her, the reader workshops are always a total joy and inspiration".

Another participant, Simone Gallop has written a report on the event for the Diocesan website, in which she says,
"We were treated to excellent talks from Bishop David and Dale covering the theology behind preaching the Word as well as practical advice and tips on how to preach effectively. All this to help us to lead people to an encounter with the living Christ.
On the final day we were ‘put on the spot’. Each person was given a page of the newspaper. We were asked to pick a headline or an article. We were given 30 minutes to write a ‘four minute thought for the day’, which we were to present to the rest of the group. It was a fascinating exercise, intended to teach us to ‘think on our feet’. Everyone entered into the spirit of the event with enormous creativity. Elaine and Dale gave ‘honest’ but constructive comments on our efforts. It was a wonderful weekend with good friends, inspiring worship, excellent teaching, fellowship and fun. It was another very successful Reader workshop." 

A couple of short videos were made at the workshop, interviewing some of our Readers who speak about their ministry:

Monday, 15 October 2018

Led by Archbishop Rowan Williams, Anglicans attend the Canonisation of Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI

Pops Francis listens to the formal petition to canonise the seven new saints
Before a crowd of over 70,000 people, including Spain's former Queen Sophia, the Presidents of El Salvador, Panama, Chile and Italy, Pope Francis yesterday, 14 October, canonised 7 saints. Two will be well known to Anglicans: Archbishop Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI. I was privileged to be present as part of the delegation of Anglicans attending the canonisation, headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams. After the mass in St Peter's Square the Pope expressed warm words of gratitude for our presence.  

Archbishop Rowam is greeted by Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Bishop Brian Farrell
In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of Jesus inviting us to return to him, the source of joy, a courageous choice to risk everything to follow him. He reminded us of how St Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters. St Oscar Romero was shot and killed while celebrating mass on 24 March 1980, by a government sponsored death squad.
In my time as Mission Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Anglican Church of Canada during the years of the civil wars in El Salvador and other Central American countries, I made many visits to the region, most often in support of those seeking to defend the human rights of the poor and exploited, including many priests and pastors in El Salvador. I recall meeting so many who were inspired by Oscar Romero to continue the struggle for justice for the poor of the region. In the hearts of the people of  Latin America Romero was already considered a saint;  "San Oscar de las Américas" they acclaimed him, almost right after he was assassinated. On the occasion of his canonisation, for the poor of the Americas this is a moment of great joy to have his martydom officially recognised by the Church. I never imagined I would be present to witness this event.

With regard to St Paul VI, Anglicans will know that it is thanks to this Pope that we entered into formal dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. Following the historic visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in 1966 (at which the Pope gave the Archbishop his own episcopal ring) ARCIC was established: "a serious dialogue which, founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions, may lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed". Today we recognise that ARCIC has produced ground-breaking agreed statements on the Eucharist and Ministry which have received the highest level of reception by the Churches of the Anglican Communion.  ARCIC continues its work on theological issues, and now, because of the significant progress made, a complementary commission, IARCCUM, was established in 2001 "to  translate our manifest agreement in faith into common life and mission". We have much for which to thank Pope St Paul VI.

Photos courtesy of the Anglican Centre in Rome

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Work has begun on St John's Casablanca Development

Work has now begun on the Development Project of St John the Evangelist Parish in Casablanca.
Phase one, the contruction of a new facility for community development work especially educational space for children and adults is now under way. The contract with the builder was signed in September and digging and initial work has begun.

Canon Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of St John's, signing the contract

The contractor has generously donated a tent to serve as a temporary facility for activities that once had to happen in an old tent and an old shipping container, particularly children's Sunday school!

The temporary tent
The St John's Development project is supported by the Diocesan Board of Finance, by donations from a diocesan Advent appeal, from some trust funds dedicated to work in St John's and from the donations of parishioners and others. Even the children of the parish are busy raising funds through the sale of baked goods and craft items!

Donations continue to be very welcome to support this unique project. Please email the Diocesan Finance Officer for information on how to contribute: nick.wraight@churchofengland.org.

Here is a short video on the total plan for the development of St John's. The first part of the video is actually Phase 2 but the community centre, Phase 1 is in the second part of the clip.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Table Talks - Anglicanism in Sicily

Community Dinner at St Alberto of Trapani, Randazzo
"Table Talks" was the title given to a programme involving 2 of our congregations in Sicily, St Alberto of Trapani in Randazzo and St George's Taormina. The purpose was to engage the members of the congregations in dialogue about being Anglican in Sicily, especially the challenge associated with being Italian-speaking or bilingual Italian-English Anglicans.

In the Diocese in Europe most of our liturgical and pastoral work is in English, with some exceptions where Anglicans from other parts of the world have brought their own language, such as French, Arabic, Tamil or Malgache. In many places occasioanl offices or pastoral rites such as baptism, confirmation or marriage might be celebrated in English as well as the national language (for example Spanish, German or Dutch) where there is a clear need. But regular liturgical and pastoral work in the national language has not been a routine part of our life, with only a couple of exceptions, in Turkey and Poland.

But now, in parts of Italy, including Sicily, there are communities of Anglicans who are exclusively Italian speaking. Table Talks was one initiative to explore how Anglican identity, lived in the Italian language can be supported and nurtured. It was a particular aspiration of the Table Talks to guide and encourage the ministry of the Italian priest serving in Randazzon, the Revd Giovanni La Rosa.

Four priests assisted as resource persons for these talks: Fr Kevin Morris of St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park and Fr Fabrizio Pesce of St Peter's Acton Green both from the Diocese of London; Fr Hugo Adán of St Matthew's, Elephant and Castle in the Diocese of Southwark; and Fr Russ Ruffino, a long-serving locum priest in this Diocese, currently covering the vacancy in Holy Cross, Palermo.

Fr Kevin spoke of how he revitalised his parish when he moved there through opening up the church and making it a welcoming place for the entire community, which proved to be key to parish growth and development. Fr Fabrizio spoke of his experience ministering to an Italian speaking, a Spanish speaking, as well as English language congregations in St Peter's. Fr Hugo, originally sponsored from this Diocese, now heads up what is the first completely bilingual parish (Spanish-English) in the Church of England. Their input, as well as that of Fr Russ, a priest from the USA born to Sicilian immigrants, was key to inspiring the thinking of the members of St Alberto's and St George's about ministry in Italy, and especially in Italian. In Taormina participants in our talks included the Revd Jutta Sperber, the German Evangelical Pastor who ministers to German Christians in Sicily, and the Revd Canon John Smith, the locum Chaplain at St George's.

"Table Talks" was a ground-breaking initiative, encouraging reflection by the communities involved on questions of Anglican identity, ministry in a minority context, ecumenical sensitivity and linguistic challenges.

Randazzo lies on the slopes of Mount Etna, only about 15 kilometres from the crater of one of Europe's most active volcanos. During an hour's free time when we visited one of the Roman Catholic Churches in the town we came upon a curious painting of a priest praying with parishioners for the protection of the town from the lava flow from an eruption. On close inspection the priest in the painting looked like our own Fr Russ!