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, 19 September 2018

Specialised funeral training for Readers

Readers and trainee readers at the funeral workshop
In the Church of England funerals are normally conducted by the clergy. Canon law does provide for the possibility of Readers (Licensed Lay Ministers) conducting funerals if the Reader has been authorised so to do by the bishop. In this diocese such authorisation is given to Readers following the satisfactory completion of extra training. In so many of our chaplaincies, this ministry is highly valued and indeed where there is a great volume of funerals and where there are large distances to cover, duly authorised Readers perform an essential pastoral service. 

The specialised training is delivered under the supervision of our Director of Reader Ministry, the Revd Canon Elaine Labourel, in periodic residential worshops. Last June, one such workshop was held at St Columba’s, Woking. Canon Labourel was assisted by the Revd Canon Paul Omrod, the Chaplain of St George's Madrid. Eighteen Lay Ministers and Lay Ministers in training came together from all over the Diocese.

Sometimes there are questions about why such specialised training is required before authorisation for funeral ministry is given. Canon Labourel says "The way in which the church deals with one funeral may establish or destroy the confidence of the community. So this is a very important ministry at at time when the deepest questions are on the minds of the mourners. Sensitive and sound teaching and careful liturgical and ritual leadership are absolutely necessary, all of which calls for a lot of responsibilty on the part of those who undertake this ministry. Each funeral is as much for the wider community as it is for the closed circle of minister and mourner."

The training given by Canon Labourel starts with understanding the grief journey and moves through the resources we have in Common Worship which include a wide range of liturgical rites to come alongside people in mourning. During the workshop there is also a sharing of the cultural differences in funeral ministry in the various locations around the diocese. Of course, as in all our Reader residential programmes, the sessions are interspersed with times of worship in the chapel and times of fellowship over breaks and meals.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Canon Chad Coussmaker RIP

One of the long serving priests of this diocese, the Revd Canon Chad Coussmaker, has died. Fr Chad had a distinguished ministry, serving in Istanbul, Sliema, Antwerp and Moscow (where he negotiated the reopening of St Andrew's Church and vicarage after years of communist rule) In retirement he served as an honorary assistant priest in Nice and Vence and undertook several locum assignments. He is survived by his wife Jean.

It is with great sadness that so many across our diocese note his death. We thank God for the blessing and inspiration he has brought to so many lives. We pray that Our Lord may reward his faithfulness, and welcome him into the Holy Presence with the Saints and Angels.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

On leave

I am taking some annual leave beginning 8 August. Do not expect many blog posts during this time! My chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller is able to reach me if there are any urgent matters.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Canon Labourel appointed to the International Reformed - Anglican Dialogue

As part of its ecumenical vocation, the Anglican Communion engages in official ecumenical dialogues with other Christian world communions. These dialogues are mandated by the Anglican Consultative Council. The Archbishop of Canterbury as Primus Inter Pares in the Anglican Communion and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion seek appropriate names from around the Communion to appoint as Anglican members of each dialogue.

It is a great honour that one of our own staff and a member of the Diocesan Ministry Team, Director of Reader Ministry the Revd Canon Elaine Labourel, has just been been appointed by the Secretary General in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury to serve on the International Reformed-Anglican Dialogue (IRAD). This recognises Elaine's own theological and ecumenical expertise..It also underlines the important part that this diocese plays in being the shop window of Anglicanism for many other Christians in Europe. Of the 165 countries where the Anglican Communion is present, 40 are in this diocese.

IRAD has been mandated to study to the nature of communion (koinonia), a wide range of missiological challenges facing the two Communions, and the sources wherein the work of the Spirit may be discerned, notably authority and governance, episcope and episcopacy

We send our congratulations to Elaine, and the assurance of our prayers as she represents the Anglican Communion in this dialogue.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Christopher Gibbs RIP

Christopher Gibbs, one time Churchwarden of St Andrew's Tangier, and a key lay leader in the congregation for many years has died in the city he loved just one day before his 80th birthday. He called Tangier a “chimeric place”, presumably as it seems almost like a mythical creature, pieced together from so many cultures, peoples, and influences. A perfect place for the antique collector Christopher to make his home. His funeral was today in St Andrew's and he was buried in the churchyard.

Known to many as a friend of rock stars and of many of the world's rich and famous, and even having been attributed with the invention of “swinging London”, Christopher's great love in latter years was the Church of St Andrew. He adored its quiet beauty inspired by Moorish tradition, and was proud that it was a gem which the great Matisse was moved to paint. Christopher loved the people of St Andrew's and had a particular generosity of heart towards the newest parishioners, the many from sub-Saharan Africa, who have made this Church their home and who find comfort and hope in this spiritual oasis. Christopher was deeply moved by the stories of those who have migrated here from lands to the south, and was impressed with the faith and dignity of St Andrew's African parishioners whom he described warmly as “chic, graceful and brave”.  Despite a great distance in upbringing and culture, Christopher believed the truth that God calls us all to be one family, and thus he felt at home in St Andrew's with his African sisters and brothers.

As a Churchwarden for so many years, Christopher was a supporter and friend to the priests who have served here over the years. It is Christopher’s vision that has helped St Andrew’s move to its present phase of its life, after so many years of locum chaplains, but now served by a permanent resident priest. It was with Christopher's bold encouragement to me as bishop that I sought a priest for St Andrew's, Fr Dennis Obidiegwu, who would be able to relate to the diversity of the parish.

Tangier now mourns one of her beloved residents. St Andrew’s mourns the passing of a dear brother, friend and mentor. We entrust our companion in faith Christopher into the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the angels and saints meet him, and lead him through the gate to life and eternal fellowship with God.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Thanksgiving offered for 55 years of service to the Church

On 8 July I was privileged to be part of a memorial service for Janet Anderson, one time organist, music director and long time member of the Church of the Ascension Cadenabbia, who had served this congregation for 55 years - a remarkable stretch of voluntary service to the Church. 

The late Janet Anderson with a visiting organist
Janet was a tireless worker for this parish and in particular was keen to keep its profile visible which she did through bringing musicians and choirs to perform in the beautiful building, which also has a remarkable acoustic.

The Church of the Ascension in Cadenabbia is a gem of a church building, on the edge of Lake Como, in the beautiful area of the Italian Lake District. Worship and community fellowship has been offered to English-speaking visitors and residents since the 1880s. The Ven. Vickie Sims, the Chaplain of Milan, gives general oversight to the congregation, but its day to day life during the "season" which lasts from Easter to the end of October, is provided by locum clergy. The present locum priest, Fr Roger Williams, has been gently guiding the regular members towards a new and confident future, through helping to organise a local church council, supporting the local churchwardens, and working with them in planning the programme of worship and community life over the season. Fr Roger and his wife Enid come from Australia. The parishioners are looking forward to their first parish retreat scheduled for this October.

Besides the memorial service for Janet I was able to preside and preach at the regular Sunday eucharist, which is well attended by the many visitors to the lakes. The Church of the Ascension has an important ministry welcoming people from around the world, offering them a place of spiritual nurture and providing a time of refreshment (some wine and soft drinks are always available after the Sunday mass), conversation and friendship.

Fr Roger greets visitors after the Sunday eucharist
Two mosaics from the church exterior

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Giampaolo Pancetti, Deacon in the Church of God

On Sunday 1 July in St Mark's English Church in Florence, an historic ordination was held. Giampaolo Pancetti was ordained deacon in a bilingual English/Italian service. Deacon Giampaolo will serve as assistant curate in St Mark's Florence, which includes the congregations of St Peter's Siena, and Holy Cross, Bologna. Archdeacon Vickie Sims of Italy and Malta presented the candidate, Registrar Aiden Hargreaves Smith took the oaths and Mother Teodora Tosatti preached the homily at the ordination mass.

Deacon Giampaolo comes from the former Old Catholic community in Italy. The Bonn Agreement of 1931 brought Old Catholics and Anglicans into full communion, based on agreement on the sacraments, ordained ministry and ‘all the essentials of the Christian faith’. In 2012 the Old Catholic community in Florence (along with Old Catholic communities elsewhere in Italy) became part of the Church of England, following the recommendation and consent of the Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland under whose oversight these communities were.  We rejoice that he brings the gifts and treasures of that tradition into the Church of England to enrich our worship and prayer life, our commitment to witness to the Gospel and in our service to the world.

The Italian language community which is part of St Mark's has as its patron San Vincente di Lerins, the 5th century Gaulish monk who lived in the south of France, and the author of a famous guideline to help the Church differentiate between true and false teaching: "that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. (Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est).

We welcome Giampaolo to the Diocesan clergy, and wish him every blessing in the upcoming years of post-ordination training.

Archdeacon and new Deacon

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Revd Torbjørn Holt, London's Norwegian Chaplain, celebrates 25 years as a priest

The Revd Torbjørn Holt, the Norwegian priest in London, and a good friend of this Diocese in Europe, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a priest in the Church of Norway last Monday 25 June at the Sjømannskirken in London.

The special mass was celebrated by Fr Torbjørn according to the rite of the Scottish Episcopal Church, to recall that part of the UK where he first ministered. In his homily, Torbjørn remembered with affection and gratitude Bishop Per Lønning who ordained him in Fana Church in Bergen. Colleagues and friends (incluing three Anglican Bishops - Southwark, Croydon and myself) joined Fr Torbjørn for the service, and for a splendid Norwegian summer supper in the newly renovated front garden of the church in Bermondsey. The Revd Canon Jonathan Boardman, who is just finishing his ministry as Chaplain of All Saints Rome, and a close friend of Fr Torbjørn, was the assistant priest at the mass.

Gratulerer, Torbjørn!

Friday, 29 June 2018

St Edmund's Oslo - an inclusive and richly diverse community

St Edmund's Church in Oslo describes itself as a community of "tremendous diversity, with people from all ages, many races and nations, and social backgrounds....include single people, families, refugees, ex-pats, and long-established citizens of our host country". The Chaplain is the Revd Darren McCallig, who began his ministry here in October last year (having been previously in St Alban's Copenhagen).

A recent parish visit included a celebration of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, with candidates from English, Sri Lankan/Norwegian and Ugandan backgrounds. Perfect to include a priest who is Irish and a bishop who is Scottish/Burmese!

Following the mass there was a splendid parish barbecue, unfortunately, in the rain! But spirits were far from dampened, and the international nature of the chaplaincy family was celebrated boldly with flags decorating the garden where the gathering was held.

I was able to catch up with a couple recently moved to Oslo from Brasilia, where their former bishop there, Dom Mauricio Andrade, had pointed them towards our Chaplaincy in Oslo. The network of the Anglican Communion is a wonderful thing!

Pray for the ordinands of the Diocese in Europe

Guy Diakiese, Jean-Bosco Turahirwa, Giampaolo Pancetti
It is the time of ordinations across the Church, once again, and in the Diocese in Europe the following persons are being ordained this weekend:

The Revd Guy Diakiese (to continue to serve as assistant curate, St John and St Philip, the  Hague) to be ordained to the Sacred Order of Priest by Bishop Robert on Saturday 30 June at 11.00 in St John and St Philip Church in the Hague. Sacred Order of Priest

Mr Jean-Bosco Turahirwa  (to serve as assistant curate, Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, Brussels) to be ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon by Bishop Robert on Sunday 1 July at 1030 in Holy Trinity Brussels.

Mr Giampaolo Pancetti (to serve as assistant curate in St Mark’s, Florence) to be ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon by Bishop David on Sunday 1 July at 1630 in St Mark's Church Florence.

All are warmly invited to attend these celebrations. Clergy and Readers are invited to robe and join in procession. The liturgical colour will be white. Priests of the Church of England or of a Church in communion are invited to join in the laying on of hands at the ordination of Deacon Guy to the priesthood. Members of the Diocese are encouraged to remember these three candidates in their prayers this weekend.

Once again the diversity of this Church of England diocese is evident in these ordinations, with candidates who are Congolese, Rwandan and Italian.

For a glimpse of these candidates here is a video taken during their pre-ordination retreat:

Post Ordination Training continues for a diverse and exciting group of ordinands

The recently ordained clergy of the Diocese continue in their Post Ordination Training programme, under the supervision of the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, the Director of Ministerial Development. (The current short-hand for Post Ordination Training in the Church of England is "IME Phase 2).

The topics covered in the last residential sessions held at St Columba's House in Woking, were "Conflict Resolution" led by Liz Griffiths from Bridge Builders,  and "Making Effective Use of Media and Communication" with our Diocesan Communications Officer, Liz Hudson.

The present curates come from Athens, Bordeaux, the Hague, Paris, Kortrijk, Trondheim and Vienna. After this weekend's ordinations, they will be joined by new curates from Brussels and Florence.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

London and Southwark Company of Servers Festival

The London and Southwark Diocesan Chapters of the Company of Servers gathered recently at St Saviour's Pimlico for their Summer Festival meeting. It was a service of Choral Evensong and Benediction, at which I had the joy of being the preacher. Fr Matthew Catterick, the Vicar of St Saviour's, hosted the event.

The ministry of server is an important lay ministry in the Church. As I said in my sermon, I understand that just as servers have the privilege of honouring Christ present in the sacraments and the sacred assembly in the liturgy, through bearing lights, censing the gifts and the people, in dignified processions, in preparing the altar for the sacred meal etc., so they can be first among the laity in the world, serving Christ who is present in everyone we meet, and honouring his beloved children. The "Liturgy after the Liturgy" the Orthodox call this.

We do not have a chapter of the Company of Servers in the Diocese in Europe. As the organisation describes itself as "A community for all who serve God at the altar within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion" perhaps we should have one. The Diocese in Europe includes 40 of the 160 countries of the Anglican Communion, after all. I found those gathered at St Saviour's Pimlico to be committed to their ministry, serious about dignified and worthy liturgy, and good fun!

Is any server in this diocese interested in exploring the formation of a chapter?