WELCOME...

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.



Friday, 29 April 2016

Anglicans in Athens readjust response to refugees in light of new circumstances

Examples of items and children’s packs being collected by the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens for a refugee/migrant camp close to Athens
Since the closure of the Greek northern border with Macedonia a different response to the refugee/migrant crisis in Greece has had to be made. No longer are the needs of transient refugees/migrants the priority. Instead it is the 54.000 refugees/migrants now stranded in hurriedly erected ‘closed camps’.As a consequence the Anglican chaplaincy in Athens, in partnership with Us (formerly known as USPG), is reviewing the programmes it, until of late, has been engaged in and is making appropriate re-adjustments.

Recently the chaplaincy has started a programme whereby, once a month, a collection of a limited number of easily obtainable things is made among the English-speaking community connected to the Church. These will help to make day to day life in a camp a little more tolerable. This month it is toothpaste, tooth brushes and soap. Next month it will be sun-lotion, insect repellent and simple head gear. Another focus will be packs containing crayons, colouring books, stickers, lined and plain paper and small toys for a substantial child population now existing in the camps.

St Paul's in Athens receives many visitors also, particularly pilgrim groups "walking in the steps of St Paul". These pilgrims are also making contributions to these collections.

Refugees in Victoria Square Athens


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Consecration of the Icon of the Holy Martyrs of 1915


On Sunday 24 April I was privileged to be invited by His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, the Primate of the Armenian Church in the UK and Ireland, to the Divine Liturgy at St Yeghiche Church, London. The occasion was the annual commemoration of the Armenian genocide. During the liturgy a replica of the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide was consecrated, the original having been dedicated last year in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, when, on the centenary of the genocide, the martyrs were canonised by the Armenian Church. I was particularly moved when His Grace Bishop Hovakim asked me to join him in blessing the icon with Holy Myron (chrism).



In his sermon Bishop Hovakim called his people to be united with their homeland, "where Artsakh once again struggles for its independence and its basic human rights". Artsakh is the traditional Armenian name for the region of Nagorno-Karabakh where in recent weeks conflict has erupted. His Grace reminded Armenians living in Great Britain "to speak the truth boldly so that peace, security and justice will transcend lesser interests". "This icon will remain in our Churches as a shining light speaking about this truth that cannot be hidden", said Bishop Hovakim.

The faithful in St Yeghiche Church prayed, "Through the prayers and intercession of the Holy Martyrs of the Genocide of 1915 and of all the martyrs of the past and present, may the Lord have mercy on us".



St Vincent's Algarve

Nossa Senhora da Luz
St Vincent's in the Algarve is an active and growing parish in the diocese consisting of three congregations in the southern end of Portugal. The Revd Mark Wilson was licensed as Chaplain last 16th February and recruitment is now under way for a colleague to join him on the team which normally consists of two priests and three Readers.


On a recent parish visit I was able to discuss with the Church Council some of their priorities for the future, including deepening their giving and service in the community, continuing their excellent ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic diocese, and building links with English language schools in the area.


In the beautiful parish church of Nossa Senhora da Luz in Praia da Luz, the weekend visit was rounded off with a celebration of confirmation. The Revd David Kirby is serving as a locum priest on the team at present, and by happy coincidence had the pleasure of presenting to me one young man whom he had baptised 14 years ago when he was himself one of the permanent priests in St Vincent's.

Confirmation candidates with locum priest Fr David Kirby (left) with Reader Bob Kelly and Fr Mark Wilson (right)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

An update from Canon Ulla Monberg at ACC-16, Lusaka

Bishop Angaelos (rt) speaks to another ecumenical participant at ACC, Metropolitan Seraphim of the Patriarchate of Alexandria
Canon Ulla Monberg, our delegate to ACC-16 which is currently meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, has let me know that Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church in the UK, who is an ecumenical participant at ACC, spoke warmly of our diocese's "trememdous work" with refugees to the ACC members from around the world. This work was also mentioned by staff members of the ACC in their reports and by the Anglican Alliance.

Fr Tony Currer and Canon Monberg
Canon Monberg has also spoken to another important partner of this diocese, the representative of the Vatican, the Revd Tony Currer, with whom I work on the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.

The opening service of ACC-16 took place with a congregation of 5000! Canon Monberg says "I have never experienced anything like it....the service lasted 4 hours with lots of choirs, dancing". Bishops, priests and people attended from around the Province of Central Africa which includes the nations of Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Congregation gathering for the opening service at ACC-16



Friday, 15 April 2016

Refugees, Interfaith dialogue, youth ministry: lively issues in Christ Church Vienna

Men's Breakfast

From Friday 8 April until Sunday 10th, I was at Christ Church Vienna for a parish visit. This is a very active congregation, and a very international one.

Among the many parish activities is a "Men's Breakfast". Some wonder about whether there should be single gender groups in the modern Church, and that is a good question. However this meeting every couple of months is not intended to be a type of secret den where men can plot together to keep hold of power! Far from it, it simply recognises that very often in the life of the Church, for a variety of reasons, many men seem to be less inclined to engage in the usual (mixed) study and fellowship groups. The Christ Church Men's Breakfast provides space for this encounter. It is a follow up from one of the aims of the parish mission statement: "To engage with one another through the shared experience of worship, education and social events".

On Saturday I was pleased to be invited to the group, to lead a discussion on interfaith dialogue, I focussed on what I had experienced at the Marrakech Meeting in January when over 300 Muslim scholars and political leaders came together to explore the significance of the Charter of Medina for today. The Charter is a model for majority Muslim societies to champion the protection of religious minorities within their societies. There was an interesting discussion around the table coming from the rich and varied experiences of relations with Muslims in Austria and Muslim societies around the world. Some, including the Assistant Curate, the Revd Mike Waltner, are directly engaged in dialogue with Muslims presently, or have been in the past.

Church Council Meeting

At the meeting of the Church Council a variety of mission challenges were discussed including ministry with young people (Christ Church has a flourishing Sunday School) and lay leadership development. A major focus of the meeting was on Safeguarding matters in the life of the Church.

A parish dinner meeting was arranged for me to speak about the refugee situation and its impact, especially in our diocese. I was impressed by the personal commitment and insight of the parishioners on this complex issue. Many have been volunteering in Vienna to assist refugees and some are hosting refugees in their own homes, so their experience is very close to home.

Judy Castelino with a refugee she is caring for in her home

The Sunday Liturgy was an Eastertide celebration of new and renewed faith, with Baptism and Confirmation and Reception into the Church of England of some who have been previously episcopally confirmed.


As one adult was baptised and the other candidates renewed their baptismal faith at the font, the congregation were sprinkled with the baptismal water, reminding them of their own incorporation into Christ's Body.


A sign of the responsibility taken on in Confirmation is shown in the intercessions when the candidates lead the congregation in offering the intercessions for the Church and for the World. At the end of the service the candidates lead the congregation out into the world where their service as Christians is lived out every day.

The Chaplain of Christ Church, Vienna, the Revd Canon Patrick Curran, until last year was also the Archdeacon of the East, so in effect he had two full-time jobs. Now he is able to devote more time to the leadership and pastoral care of this lively community. The Assistant Curate, the Revd Mike Waltner, seen in the photo above, second from the right.

Fr Patrick can be seen below at a hostelry close to Christ Church, tempting me with a local brew.

The Revd Canon Patrick Curran

Many pictures are courtesy of Judy Castelino.

 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Canon Ulla Monberg - the Europe Representative at ACC in Lusaka

Canon Ulla Monberg in Holy Cross Cathedral in Lusaka where the ACC meeting is being held

The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. The ACC is one of the 4 instruments of the Anglican Communion (the others being the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting) but the only instrument where laity and clergy have a full part to play. It gathers every 3 years. We are privileged that our own Diocese in Europe, although part of the Church of England which has its own delegates to the ACC, has a special co-opted member, the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, our Diocesan Director of Ministerial Development. It is only right that we have a representative since 42 of the 164 countries of the Anglican Communion are in our diocese!

Members of the ACC will be discussing some of the most pressing issues facing the Church's mission in the world, including the challenges presented by migration and refugees, climate change, violence in all its forms and poverty. The Council will consider a major report on the formation of disciples, active followers of Jesus Christ equipped to engage with these mission challenges.

The gathering which began on 8 April continues until 19 April. We uphold Canon Monberg in our prayers during this time, and also pray for all the delegates, that our unity in Christ might shape our common mission in the world. I was a staff person at ACC meetings in Panama (1996), Dundee (1999) and Hong Kong (2002) and I know how exhausting these gatherings can be, but how exhiliaring they are when global Anglicanism comes together to celebrate both our diversity and what we hold in common, and what we can offer to the world in joint service.

 

Monday, 4 April 2016

St Mark's Versailles welcomes its new priest, the Revd Ajit John

St Mark's Versailles
Many people are surprised to learn that the Church of England Diocese in Europe has 7 congregations in Greater Paris. There are two in the centre of the French capital, St George's and St Michael's. 5 others are located in towns on the periphery, St Peter's Chantilly, St Luke's Fontainebleau, Holy Trinity Maisons-Laffitte and St Mark's Versailles with St Paul's, Gif sur Yvette.

It is to this last 2-point parish, Versailles with Gif sur Yvette, that a new Chaplain was licensed on Saturday 2 April: the Revd Ajit John. Ajit has moved into this diocese from the Diocese of Toronto, in the Anglican Church of Canada. The Archdeacon of France, the Venerable Ian Naylor, presided at the licensing service in St Mark's.

This service at the start of a new ministry is a moving moment when the new priest receives, generally through the Archdeacon, his or her authorisation from the Bishop and accepts the solemn responsibilities to conduct divine service, celebrate the sacraments, preside at the occasional offices, preach, teach and hold the cure of souls (i.e. provide pastoral care).

The Revd Ajit John receives the licence for his ministry from the Archdeacon of France
Ajit will be working with his assistant priest in the parish, the Revd Elaine Labourel, who is also our Diocesan Director of Reader Ministry.

We welcome Ajit, his wife Margaret, and their daughter Gabrielle to this diocese and to St Mark's.



Sunday, 3 April 2016

Fr Simon Stephens is honoured by Lambeth Palace

Fr Simon in Moscow, 2013
Canon Dr Simon Stephens OBE is a well known and much loved priest of our diocese. He first served as priest-in-charge of Sta Margarita, Menorca, then for many years as Chaplain of St Andrew's Moscow. He retired from that post in 2014. Fr Simon was honoured last Thursday in a ceremony at Lambeth Palace when he was given a Lambeth Cross for service to the Church's ecumenical life. I know from my own visits to Moscow how significant his ecumenical work there has been, particularly with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Here is the full citation for Fr Simon's award: 
Awarded to Canon Simon Edward Stephens for his significant contribution to ecumenism, especially with the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
In June 2014 Canon Simon Stephens retired as Chaplain to St. Andrew’s Church and Anglican Centre, Moscow after fourteen years of outstanding service. He extended the work of the chaplaincy both geographically and pastorally, with visits to Mongolia for Christmas Services, to Kiev and monthly visits to St. Petersburg to take Communion Services, and elsewhere in his role as Area Dean, even travelling to Murmansk Prison to visit British detainees.
At the same time, Canon Stephens built up the congregation at St. Andrew’s where he nurtured the vocations to the Anglican ministry of two Russian Postgraduates. He fostered closer relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and with Patriarch Alexei and his successor Patriarch Kyrill.
He also established strong links with the British Embassy, together with many Commonwealth Embassies. His ministry also extended to several outreach programmes for local Russians, such as a branch of Alcoholics Anonymous, a reference library and concerts and opportunities for other gatherings.
After St. Andrew’s received a grant in 2003 from the Fellowship of St. Alban and St Sergius in Oxford to create a library for the Biblical Theological Institute of St. Andrew (called by its Russian acronym BBI), St. Andrew’s, BBI, and the Fellowship began a dialogue to create in 2006 the very first Anglican - Orthodox Education Centre, bringing together noted theologians and scholars from Russia and abroad to discuss current theological issues and foster understanding between the Orthodox and the Anglican Communions.
Such a ministry over fourteen years demanded exceptional political and ecclesiastical gifts and hard work in order to establish, sustain and build up an Anglican presence and to reach beyond denominational boundaries in such a city and, not least, at such a time.
We send our warmest congratulations to Fr Simon on receiving this well-deserved award.

Fr Simon (Centre) with Churchwardens of St Andrew's Tangier, and Area Dean Canon Medhat Sabry
Fr Simon's ministry in this diocese continues: he is always up to new challenges! I have just appointed him as priest-in-charge of St Andrew's Tangier where he began his new ministry in Holy Week. He is always a welcome visitor to our Tufton Street offices, and usually brings news from all over the world (his networks are impressive!). But most importantly he never fails to deliver much appreciated words of joy and encouragement to the Diocesan Staff as can be seen in the photo below, when he was finalising details of his appointment with our Appointments Secretary, Catherine Jackson.






Friday, 1 April 2016

A safeguarding note

Ian Carter, Diocesan Safeguarding Manager
An anonymous comment was received by this blog (but not published) which may have been related to matters of safeguarding. It was passed immediately to the Diocesan Safeguarding Team for follow up.

Our diocesan safeguarding norms specify that if an individual has a safeguarding concern then this is the course of action: The matter must be reported to Diocesan Safeguarding Team as soon as possible, no matter how trivial the matter may seem.

The person to contact is Mr Ian Carter, the Diocesan Safeguarding Manager. His email is: ian.carter@churchofengland.org.

Eurobishop blog is not the vehicle to relay such information.



Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A Gibraltar Easter

Our Lady of Europe
The Easter celebrations in the Cathedral in Gibraltar had a couple of significant ecumenical dimensions.

First of all, I was welcomed on Holy Saturday to the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe by Fr Charles Azzopardi, from the RC diocese of Gibraltar. I was accompanied by Fr Michael Wagstaff, the Naval Chaplain in Gibraltar.

Fr Azzopardi, Fr Wagstaff
The shrine has a fascinating history. In 711 General Tariq Ibn Ziyad led his Moorish troops across the straits which separate Africa from Iberia. (Gibraltar actually means in Arabic, "Mountain of Tariq" (jabal ṭāriq). He built a mosque at the southernmost part of the peninsula in thanksgiving. When Moorish occupation of Gibraltar ended in 1309, King Ferdinand IV of Castille converted the ancient mosque into a Christian shrine and dedicated the continent to the Mother of Our Lord, under the title, Our Lady of Europe. The present statue dates from 1462. The feast of Our Lady of Europe is observed on our Diocesan Calendar on 9 May. Interestingly, in recent years, with Saudi Arabian money, a new mosque has been built on this southernmost point of Europe. The photo below shows the minaret.


Later that night as we prepared for the Solemn Vigil of Easter, I learned that the Paschal Candle was a gift from the Roman Catholic Cathedral to ours. This is a long-standing custom, and a gracious ecumenical gesture on this most holy of feasts.


The Easter celebrations included baptism and confirmations. The question at the heart of the rite of Christian Initiation is always a moving one, but it seems to take on more power at Easter, when each candidate is asked individually, "Is this your faith?" To which they respond, "This is my faith!".


Music at the Cathedral is of a high standard and is an important dimension in the liturgy, as is the ceremonial of the Eucharist which is served by a very dedicated and skilled group of acolytes who clearly love their ministry.

The choir and servers, with the Dean and other clergy after the Easter Eucharist

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Church in Gibraltar welcomes those who pass by, on foot, or by sea

 

At the end of the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday in the Cathedral in Gibraltar, the cross which was venerated by the congregation during the service is moved to in front of the altar which was stripped bare following the Maundy Thursday rites. The cross remains there throughout the day with candles lit on either side, providing a focal point for passers-by exploring the "Rock" who drop into the Cathedral (and there are many!) to ponder the mystery of our salvation.

A small gap between the liturgy and the evening's ecumenical Stations of the Cross through the Main Street of Gibraltar, gave me the opportunity to catch up on some aspects of the work of the Port Chaplain, the Revd Peter Ford OGS. Fr Peter is also the Assistant Priest at the Cathedral, working alongside Dean John Paddock.

Fr Peter Ford

Gibraltar is a busy port, particularly with increasing cruise ship traffic. Fr Peter is now well known around the port, by everyone from the security guards, to officials of the Port Authority, to those who staff the tourism office serving cruise passengers. He is on hand to welcome virtually every ship, and in particular to attend to the needs of the international seafaring crew. One welcome service offered by the Port Chaplaincy is a Wifi station. It is a popular venue for crew members, far from their home, needing to connect with their families and friends. This is such an important outreach of the Church in Gibraltar, supported by the Mediterranean Mission to Seamen fund administered by the Diocese.

An ecumenical Via Crucis through the Main Street of Gibraltar rounded off the Good Friday liturgies on the Rock. The Roman Catholic, Church of Scotland and our own Anglican communities (the Cathedral and the King's Chapel) came together to mark the 14 stations, with meditations and prayers led at each station by different parochial groups - a witness to Christian unity and to our walking together as disciples of our crucified and risen Lord.

 

 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Triduum in Gibraltar Cathedral

 

The Sacred Triduum now well underway in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Gibraltar, inviting us to enter into the last steps of Jesus's way to the Father. These ancient rites draw us into the Passion itself. Tonight, following the Mass of the Lord's Supper with the washing of feet, the cathedral fell silent as the faithful gathered around the altar of repose, to watch with Jesus in Gethsemane. A solemn time of deep prayer for a world filled with pain, hostility and suffering. We remember our Lord's own words in that garden "My soul is very sorrowful".