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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.



Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Get ready for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


In only a couple of weeks we will mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will be held from 18th to 25 January 2010 (between the feasts of the Confession of St Peter and the Conversion of St Paul). Christians around the world will focus during that week on a theme based on Christ's final words before his Ascension, "You are witnesses of these things".

The 2010 theme was chosen by Scottish Churches who are also preparing to celebrate the centenary of the 1910 World Mission Conference on the theme "Witnessing to Christ today". The Edinburgh Conference of 1910 is regarded by historians as the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement. This year's theme which underlines the link between the missionary activity of the Church and the quest for Christian unity is vitally important. By our baptism we are already one Body and we are called to live in communion with each other. In fact God makes us brothers and sisters, in Christ. This is the fundamental witness that we are called to in our missionary activity.

A brochure with liturgical texts and background information based on the work of the Scottish ecumenical preparatory group has been jointly prepared and published by the (Roman Catholic) Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. It is available for download here.  (Resources are also available in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese).

As our diocese has a particular ecumenical vocation, I hope that many of our churches will be able to join in local activities during the week of prayer.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Istanbul: 2010 European Capital of Culture



Each year certain cities are designated by the European Union as European Capitals of Culture, to showcase the richness and diversity of European culture and to promote greater mutual knowledge and understanding among the citizens of our continent. In 2010, as well as two EU cities, Essen (Germany) and Pécs (Hungary), a city of a non-EU member country has been designated: Istanbul.

Istanbul is presenting itself as a bridge connecting Europe to the East, an example of the crossroads of civilizations where people have learned to “live differences”. Visitors to Istanbul as European Capital of Culture will want to know of our own Anglican presence in the City which dates from 1583. Church of England services are held at Christ Church, dedicated in 1868 as the Crimean Memorial Church, St Helena’s at the British Consulate General and the (Turkish language) Church of the Resurrection. The chaplain of Christ Church with St Helena's is the Revd Canon Ian Sherwood. The priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection is the Revd Engin Yildirim. For details consult the information on the Diocese in Europe website. The official Istanbul Capital of Culture website is here.

Pécs is promoting its location as a cultural gateway to the Balkans, and is, after Budapest, the second most important artistic community in Hungary. Essen is probably better known for its industrial past rather than a cultural centre. It is embracing this challenge head-on, with an emphasis on “transformation through culture”, showing how what was once the coal pit of Europe is now a dynamic multicultural metropolis. The Diocese in Europe has no congregations in Pécs or Essen.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A happy and blessed 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.

I have always loved this beautiful, ancient antiphon for the Magnificat at Christmastime. It is based on Wisdom 18.14-15, and now,  happily, finds an official place in our Anglican liturgy in Common Worship: Daily Prayer. 

I wish a happy Christmas to readers of this blog. At this holy season may you find a moment of gentle, quiet stillness for the Incarnate Word to be received with joy. 

Monday, 21 December 2009

Friend of the Diocese in Europe to be the Roman Catholic Bishop of Saskatoon


I learned today that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed an old friend of mine, and a long-standing friend of the Anglican Communion and of our diocese in Europe, to be the Bishop of Saskatoon, Canada. Monsignor Donald Bolen was on the staff of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) from 2001 to 2008, with responsibility for Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue. Fr Don and I worked closely as co-secretaries of our official dialogue and collaborated on many other ecumenical occasions. He was present at my consecration as bishop in 2002.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the PCPCU greeted the news of Fr Don's appointment with “great joy and profound thankfulness” noting that Bolen’s strong faith in Christ, together with his vision and energy will equip him to lead his new flock in the diocese of Saskatoon.

For his service to relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded Fr Don the Cross of St Augustine in November 2008.

The clergy and people of All Saints Anglican Church in Rome know Fr Don well as he was a frequent visitor, and many members of our diocesan synod will have met him when the synod convened in Rome a few years back. We send Fr Don our warmest congratulations and prayers.

It's a start, but we're not done yet



COP 15 has ended without the fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement that millions around the world hoped the world leaders would deliver. Last Saturday, Elias Crisostomo Abramides, the World Council of Churches' head of delegation to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, summarised the disappointment of the Churches in the following letter. He points out in frank language the grave consequences of the lack of progress. The talks will be reconvened in Bonn early in 2010. Christians need to continue to pray for and support the ongoing process, so that what has been begun in Copenhagen will be strengthened and consolildated into a binding treaty.

In his letter, Mr Abramides, an Argentinian and a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, pays special tribute to the support from St Alban's Church, Copenhagen. Certainly the diocesan family would like to express our thanks to Fr Jonathan LLoyd and his team at St Alban's who have provided a solid, prayerful and spiritual presence, on behalf of our Church, during the summit.

Dear All,


Yesterday the World Council of Churches Statement to the Plenary wasvdelivered by Christian Friis Bach, International Director of DanChurchAid, at the traditional slot granted to the WCC by the UNFCCC. You can read the full text of the WCC statement to the Plenary at the following link:

We are already leaving Copenhagen with mixed feelings. On one hand, remembering the inspiring, clear and encouraging discourses that we heard from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Archbishop Rowan Williams and the decided perseverance of civil society for obtaining a just and equitable agreement.

On the other one, we are returning home displeased and with the certainty that, as a world leader said, "We have much further to go".

The proposed accord at the climate conference in Copenhagen is a frustration. After two weeks of negotiations by representatives of 193 countries, gathering more than 100 heads of state, the Copenhagen meeting has been another missed opportunity.

Wealthy developed countries have ignored the vast evidence, which says they need to cut domestic emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020 (1990 levels). The amount promised by developed countries to help poor countries to deal with the dire effects of climate change falls short of the real amount of resources needed.

Without an ambitious and legally binding agreement in the coming months, not vague promises, climate change will spell disaster for the nations least able to mitigate it. Coastal and island countries face a dreadful prospect of deceased and displaced people while Africa and Latin America already are dealing with drought and famine.

Lacking swift, significant and ambitious political will, adequate resources and aid commitments once more the world's poor and the Earth itself would be the big losers. At Mexico next November or perhaps earlier if world leaders reconsider the gravity of the times, the Ecumenical Family once more would be present pursuing our invariable aspiration of an equal, just, in solidarity and in love world.

Before concluding, let me recognise the work performed by the WCC Ecumenical Team and by all the members of the Ecumenical Family at COP15-CMP5. I would like to express our gratitude to our friends of the National Council of Churches in Denmark, DanChurchAid and St Alban´s Church community for their solidarity and constant support.

Thank you very much!

Praying and desiring but convinced in the need of acting to obtain a better and just world, I wish you all a holy and blessed Christmas.

With my warmest regards,
Elias
Lic. Elias Crisostomo Abramides
Head of Delegation
WCC Focal Point to the UNFCCC
Climate Change Programme
World Council of Churches

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Final Version of Anglican Communion Covenant is sent to the Churches


The final version of the Anglican Communion Covenant has now been prepared and in the past couple of days has been sent to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion for discussion.

The Covenant proposes a way for Anglican Churches to strengthen their relationship within our Communion. It sets out a principled and agreed method to deal with any inter-Anglican conflict. It is intended to build on that fundamental Anglican value of mutual accountability among Churches which seek to live a common life within the communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

As the Anglican Communion has developed in recent years there has not been a parallel development of a framework to address together a response to problems which arise in relationships between the member Churches. The Covenant puts forward such a framework, faithful to Anglican ecclesiology, within which a response to tensions can be discerned and articulated. At present, as no such mechanism exists, it has led to serious threats to the unity and integrity of the Communion.

The draft gives considerable prominence to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion which can make recommendations concerning the relational consequences resulting from actions by individual member Churches. It can make requests to Churches to defer certain actions, for instance. However, it will still be up to each member Church to decide how to be guided by any specific recommendations which may come from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, thereby respecting the treasured autonomy of the Provinces.

In his cover letter to the Primates and Provincial Secretaries of the member Churches, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, an assessment of the progress for adoption of the Covenant at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in 2012.

Our Church of England Diocese in Europe is often described as “the Anglican Communion in miniature”, due to the diversity of our jurisdiction which spans 44 countries and whose congregations bring together Anglicans from every background and continent. It is up to the General Synod of the Church of England, I believe, to decide how we will discuss and agree the latest draft of the Covenant, but Anglicans in our diocese may want to begin familiarising themselves with it now.

The recently agreed text of the Covenant is to be found here. The Archbishop of Canterbury has prepared a 4 minute YouTube message to introduce to us the purpose of the Covenant and the process from here on. The video can be seen here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

World Council of Churches Christmas Message


The World Council of Churches (WCC) has become very up to date in its communications strategy. The 2009 Christmas message to the Churches has been prepared as a video and posted on YouTube. It is available for viewing here.

The WCC brings together 349 churches in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians. It includes most of the world's Anglicans (including the Church of England), as well as most of the Old Catholic, Orthodox,  Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many Independent churches. The headquarters are in Geneva, within our diocese.

If you are not accustomed to YouTube, I post the text of the message here:
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation;
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created,
things visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers –
all things have been created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17 (NRSV)

Light is the radiant image of God’s goodness, in creation and at Christmas. The Creator commands, “Let there be light!” – and the universe takes form. At the nativity of Christ, light breaks forth in the midst of darkness – and the darkness can never overcome this glowing testament of the living God.
Christmas is a season to sing praises, yet in our time the reality of environmental destruction undermines the doxology of creation. The singing of the spheres is obscured by pollution and manufactured noise, the rhythms of the sea are disturbed by climate change, the beauty of many manifestations of life is disfigured by abusive practices rooted in greed. And as the earth suffers, so must its inhabitants. Already, the poor and other socially marginalized people find it ever more difficult to lift their voices in song.
In the days of Mary and Joseph, the emperor Augustus believed power rested in his hands alone. He decreed that “all the world” (the biblical word is oikoumene) should be taxed, and an obscure couple made their way toward Bethlehem. Yet God had another purpose in history, and now we realize that thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities were acting unwittingly in fulfillment of prophetic imperatives. It is Christ, not the emperor, who is truly “before all things, and in him all things hold together”.
Biblical scholar Barbara Rossing suggests that the old, imperial oikoumene of Caesar – along with modern economic, military and political empires – is perishing. Yet the prophets and apostles assure us that God’s creation – a true oikoumene comprising the household of God – will be transformed.
And so we pray for change and offer ourselves as instruments of transformation. We live in faith that, in the coming of Jesus Christ, there is a new creation in which the hope of the angels’ song comes to fruition – God, humanity and all of life shall be reconciled.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches (WCC)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Come and Meet! The Church in Gran Canaria goes to the people


Come and Meet! is part of the outreach initiative led by the Revd Peter Ford OGS, the priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Historically worship and Anglican community life has centred on the beautiful Holy Trinity Church which opened for worship in 1892. At that time the congregation was part of the diocese of Sierra Leone! It came under the jurisdiction of the Church of England in 1968. Holy Trinity Church is now recognised as an historic monument by the Government of the Canary Islands.

In the past 30 years tourist resorts have developed in the south of the island, over an hour away from Las Palmas by bus. Fr Peter, with the help of one or two lay volunteers, is extending the presence of the Church in two places in the south, Playa del Ingles, and Puerto Rico. The outreach programme includes:
  1. A weekly eucharist on Sunday evening in Playa del Ingles, using a Roman Catholic Chapel in an ecumenical worship centre. There is now a small congregation of regulars, supplemented by tourists.
  2. The commencement of occasional worship in Puerto Rico, using a local restaurant as a base. (There is not even a Roman Catholic Church building in Puerto Rico). The first service was a ‘Harvest Festival’ which brought together over 30 people for a unique service, which included not only hymns but a 3 course meal!
  3. A programme called ‘Come and Meet!’, in Playa del Ingles, and Puerto Rico. The priest and lay volunteer sit in a restaurant at set, advertised times each week, available as a presence to anyone who wishes to chat. The needs are varied, from practical support and assistance, to counselling those who are lonely and even overcome by feelings of suicide.
Doing his weekly rounds in his "dog collar" in this largely unchurched area of mass tourism, Fr Peter encounters many who have come for sunshine and beaches, but who are desperate for deeper human contact and spiritual fulfilment. His ministry extends to befriending and caring for the many bar owners, restauranteurs and others who work in the frantic life of the tourist industry. It is pioneering and demanding work.

I believe that Gran Canaris is the southernmost parish in the Diocese in Europe, (although Tenerife South might claim this also). Fr Peter has been working on a new website for Gran Canaria which can be found here.

Church of England Podcast Features Diocese in Europe


I have just discovered that the featured Church of England podcast this week is about our diocese. The Revd Paul Needle, our Diocesan Communications Officer presents the 3 minute audio clip which features yours truly and our Diocesan Environmental Officer, Brian Morgan. The topic is the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Tune in to the podcast here. Excellent coverage and exposure for our diocese. Thanks Paul!

Copenhagen's streets and squares are full of art related the theme of COP 15, like the planet earth above. The picture below is of Fr Jonathan LLoyd with part of his Franciscan Team at St Alban's, Sister Joyce CSF, Brother Hugh SSF and Brother Wilfred SSF.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

Ecumenical Celebration for Creation


On Sunday afternoon in Copenhagen's Lutheran Cathedral (dedicated to Our Lady) an ecumenical service for creation was held. Queen  Margrethe II of Denmark attended along with the Danish Prime Minister and government ministers and officials from several countries. Among the ecumenical guests were the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Sam Kobia, and his successor the Olav Fykse Tveit, as well as dozens of bishops and ecumenical leaders from around the world. Archbishop Desmond Tutu read the opening Psalm136 and gave the final blessing (in Xhosa). Prayers were said with focal images of coral from the Pacific Ocean, maize from Africa and uncovered glacier stone fron Greenland. Songs were sung in English, Zulu, Danish and Greenlandic.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was the preacher. His sermon on the text "perfect love casts out fear" drew applause from the Cathedral, packed with over 1000 worshippers. Outside in the square several hundred more watched the service on a large screen. The Archbishop challenged the decision makers at the Climate Summit: "There is, in a word, no shortage of excellent excuses for turning away from decisions that will mean real change. But at least let's be honest about where they come from: it is fear. And so long as that dominates our calculations, we are stepping back from love - love for the creation itself, love for one another, and for the generations still unborn". Archbishop Rowan emphasised that we met as people of faith in the context of this critical moment in human history; and not simply gathered to plead or harangue, but to say two simple things to ourselves, our neighbours and our governments.  "First: don't be afraid; how do we show that we love God's creation?...Second: how [do we} learn to trust one another within a world of limited resources. In such a world there can be no trust without justice, without the assurance of knowing that my neighbour is there for me when I face insecurity or risk".

The Cathedral bells began to ring 350 times at the end of the service and candles were lit and held by everyone and carried out into the world symbolising our hope and trust in the Lord, who is Light and Life.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

With Archbishop Rowan in Copenhagen



After an already busy day which included addressing Christians gathered for a march to the Bella Centre where the UN negotiations are being held, extensive discussions with the Danish Bishops on the role of the Church in our societies, and many press interviews, the Archbishop gave an moving address at the Trinitas Church in central Copenhagen at an evening prayer service attended by students, Church leaders, academics, activists and even some politicians. He spoke of the covenant which God has established, not just with the human race, but with life itself, drawing on the story of Noah. The Archbishop then invited a dialogue with members of the congregation who asked some quite profound questions. In responding the Archbishop spoke of his own faith, his belief in miracles (and perhaps one is needed at COP 15), but also his belief that whether or not a miracle happens, we are called to be faithful. He drew attention to the remarkable fact that on the issue of climate justice people of all faiths are united, because all people are potentially affected. So this is a major area for interfaith collaboration. But one of the more searching questions drew out the connection between the Church's option for the poor, and the option for the earth. "These are one", said the Archbishop. "The poorest of the earth suffer most from environmental degradation, therefore it is not two questions but one".




Friday, 11 December 2009

The Church of Denmark agrees to sign the Porvoo Agreement


My arrival in Copenhagen coincided with the news that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) has decided to join the Porvoo Communion of Churches. A press release from the Church of Denmark has gone to all the constituencies of that Church and to the general public in Denmark, announcing this landmark decision by the state Church. Arrangements for the public signing of the Porvoo Declaration are still to be settled. The ELCD was a full participant in the theological discussions leading to the Porvoo Common Statement in the 1990s, but in the end did not sign the agreement, so the news today is a major ecumenical breakthrough. Once signed the agreement will extend the Porvoo Communion of Churches to embrace the 12 dioceses and over 2000 parishes in Denmark.

A day in Copenhagen.



Dateline Copenhagen: I spent a couple of hours today, before Archbishop Rowan arrives, at the Klimaforum09, the "Peoples' Climate Summit", an open space where movements and organisations from all over the world are meeting to discuss and develop grass roots responses to the climate crisis, while the official deliberations go on in another part of the city. There is a fascinating range of over 50 exhibits from vulnerable parts of the world such as the Maldives, to demonstrations of ecologically sound housing to networks of indigenous peoples. Talks, debates and presentations on various topics abound, as well as a range of cultural perfomances - music, drama and film - from around the world. I would guess that the average age of visitors to Klimaforum09 was somewhere in the mid-20s. One of the central outcomes of Klimaforum09 will be a "global climate declaration" expressing the hopes and vision of citizen groups and social movements from every part of the planet. The picture above is of two young women from Swedish Lapland. Like all people living in Sub-Arctic regions, they are already noticing the effects of rapid climate change.
Earlier in the day I presided at the mid-day Eucharist in St Alban's Church, at which Ursula Sonnewald, a parishioner from Trondheim, was confirmed. Ursula and her priest, the Revd Mary Strommen, journeyed down from Western Norway for this service.

The prayer team at St Alban's Church seems to be well into their rhythm of providing hospitality and spiritual nourishment to visitors during the period of COP 15. The team includes 3 Anglican Franscican Brothers and one Sister, as well as other clergy and laity, and is headed by the Chaplain of St Alban's the Revd Jonathan LLoyd. One of the Franciscans remarked that Copenhagen has become a place of pilgrimage: the world is travelling here: politicians, scientists, lobbyists, NGOs, movements and just "ordinary" people. The close of the day included Evening Prayer with about 20 in attendance. The service was followed by a spiritual talk by Brother Clark SSF, the Minister General of the Society of St Francis. Brother Clark has a blog which is worth a visit.

St Alban's, like many Churches and other places around the city, has a focus for prayer and meditation which is very symbolic: rock from Greenland, coral from the Pacific, and corn, the staple crop of many indigenous and other peoples.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Remember - Sunday 13 December: Let the Bells Ring 350 Times!

On Sunday 13 December at 3 pm Denmark time - at the height of the climate talks in Copenhagen - the churches in Denmark will ring their bells. Christians everywhere are invited to join them by sounding their own bells (drums, gongs, horns, shells etc...) 350 times.

Why 350 times?
350 refers to 350 parts per million: This is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere according to many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 ppm of CO2, but now the concentration stands at 390 ppm. Unless we are able to rapidly reduce CO2 levels again, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

Join in this symbolic world-wide action on 13 December!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Archbishop Rowan: Learn to Love the World We're In




As many readers of this blog know, Archbishop Rowan Williams travels to Copenhagen this weekend for engagements related to the UN climate summit. Archbishop Rowan is emphatic that Christianity and religion in general has much to say about this great issue. On BBC Radio 2 yesterday he said: “We're getting ready for Christmas and it's worth remembering that one of the things we celebrate at Christmas is God taking an interest in the real material stuff of this Earth, the flesh and blood, and all the things that keep flesh and blood secure – food and shelter and so on. It would be pretty peculiar if we took the world less seriously than God does.” The Archbishop suggested that we could all “scale down our extravagant use of energy and the amount of waste we produce – that’s certainly a challenge at Christmas!”. Part of the message we are sure to hear in Copenhagen from the Archbishop is that change would only come “if we learn to love the world we’re in”.

Fr Jonathan LLoyd and his team at St Alban's Copenhagen have a full weekend planned. I have posted this information below (follow "Read More") so that you can keep these events, the Archbishop's visit, and the summit conversations in your prayers.

December 2009 Book Selection

Here is December's book selection. The reviews are written by Dr Martin Davie, the Theological Secretary to the Bishops of the Church of England. They will be of interest to all who wish to keep up with current theology, including the clergy and Readers (lay ministers) of the Diocese in Europe. 9 reviews are below. Just click on the read more link.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Funeral and Bereavement Ministry Workshop


This is a reminder to Readers and Readers-in-training in the diocese of the upcoming workshop on Funeral Liturgy and Bereavement Ministry. It will be held from 4pm on 24 February until after lunch on 26 February 2010 at the Casa Diocesana de Espiritualidad, Málaga, Spain. The speakers will include the Revd Peter Moger, the Church of England's National Worship Development Officer, and the Revd Canon Hugh Broad, Priest-in-Charge of Costa Almería / Costa Cálida and Area Dean of Gibraltar.

Practical, liturgical and pastoral training will be given for the funeral service itself. It will also be a time of theological reflection on the profound questions about the meaning of life, death and resurrection in Christian belief.

The cost will be in the region of 110 Euros. The workshop is especially geared for Readers who conduct funerals or Readers-in-Training who may do so in future. The Casa Diocesana is a short taxi ride from Málaga airport.

Licensed Readers are able to apply for financial support from the funds held for Continuing Ministerial Development. Readers-in-Training are encouraged to approach their parish clergy to see whether funding support can be arranged locally. Registration forms have already been sent to Readers and Readers-in-Training, but if you have misplaced yours and wish to attend, please contact the Ministry Team Administrator Margaret Jeffery. Margaret's e-mail: margaret.jeffery@europe.c-of-e.org.uk.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Buddhist Monks Visit St Paul's Monaco



St Paul's Monaco helped to host a group of 5 Tibetan Buddhist monks who were visiting the Principality over the weekend  of 27-29 November. The monks joined the congregation of St Paul's at the 10:30 Service on Sunday 29th.

I found it particularly encouraging to learn of this interfaith outreach by St Paul's. At last September's Pastoral Conference for the clergy the theme of hospitality as mission was central. We learned that a gesture of hospitality to people of other faiths is not about concealing our convictions or watering them down. It is a way of expressing them in a practical way, demonstrating the welcoming generosity which is at the very heart of God.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Anglican Communion Appoints New Director for Unity, Faith and Order



The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan has been appointed Director for Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office. (The position was formerly known as Director of Ecumenical Affairs. Alyson's predecessor was Canon Gregory Cameron who is now Bishop of St Asaph in the Church in Wales. I was Gregory's predecessor). Alyson is pictured on the right of the picture above, alongside Dame Mary Tanner. We were together in Rome for some recent meetings with Vatican officials.

Alyson is a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, where she was Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry. She has wide experience of the Anglican Communion, having worked on the Lambeth Commission on Communion, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission, as well as the Faith and Order Plenary Commission of the World Council of Churches. She is married to Bruce, who is also a priest, and they have three grown children.

Although this is an Anglican Communion and not a C of E appointment, we in the Diocese in Europe will follow Alyson's ecumenical work with interest, since in our context relations with Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Orthodox are part of our daily bread. One of Alyson's first tasks is staffing the first meeting of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order - IASCUFO. (Anglican acronyms are becoming very strange!) The Archbishop of Canterbury is hosting a dinner tonight in Lambeth Palace to mark the inauguration of the new Commission.

We welcome Alyson to this side of the Atlantic and wish her every blessing in her new ministry. I hope that in her ecumenical work she may come to know a wide range of the clergy and people of our diocese in the years to come.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury - World AIDS Day Video


Today, 1 December, is World AIDS day, and the diocesan prayer diary asks that we pray for those living with HIV/AIDS. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released a video on YouTube, in which he speaks with the Revd Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother from Kenya, about her experiences of living with HIV. The video highlights the plight of expectant mothers who are HIV positive and the support they need to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies. Despite the tragic subject matter, the video is a message of hope. Our Archbishop speaks of the Church's call to "provide space for people to face themselves, to be themselves, and to cope with their future", and to "encourage all our governments to keep up their commitment to making ... medical help available".

I encourage you to view this short, but inspiring YouTube video.