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.



Saturday, 30 January 2010

New Priest-in-charge of Pas de Calais

On Saturday 30 January, the Revd Sara MacVane was licensed by the Archdeacon of France as the new priest-in-charge of the Anglican congregations in Pas de Calais.

There are four congregations in this extended parish, based in Arras, Calais, Boulogne and Hesdin. Services take place every Sunday at one or other of these places. As is to be expected in widely scattered communities, friendship and fellowship is a vital part of congregational life. Each of the four churches enjoys a programme of social events. The parish serves the large numbers of English-speaking residents in the region. Some have retired and live here permanently, many are second home owners, attracted by property prices in the area, who come for weekends or extended holidays. There are also quite a few British/French couples committed to a life in France.

Sara knows the diocese well. She comes to Pas de Calais from All Saints, Rome, where she has been Assistant Curate. Sara also brings a commitmente and experience of ecumenical matters to her new position in France as she has also worked at the Anglican Centre in Rome, the permament diplomatic presence in Rome of the Anglican Communion. We welcome Sara to her new responsibilities in Pas de Calais.

The Anglican Church in Pas de Calais website is here.

Friday, 29 January 2010

House of Bishops' Europe Panel Comments on EU Strategy for Next Decade


A panel of senior Church of England bishops has told the EU that its plans for the next decade fail to reflect the needs of both the most disadvantaged and those 'ordinary citizens' who indirectly contribute to its financial and political viability.

The bishops, led by the Christopher Hill, the Bishop of Guildford and Chair of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel, were responding to EU 2020, a strategy paper outlining how to make the EU a smarter, greener, social market.

The bishops assert that:
  • more effort must be made to improve the EU’s financial and accounting transparency, and to reduce bureacracy. 
  • the welcome environmental focus of EU 2020 seems to be based purely on an economic argument for efficient growth rather on a commitment to the sustainable stewardship of global resources for future generations;
  • an emphasis on investment in vocational subjects that provide skills for industry ignores the importance of other subjects that sustain common life, and betrays “a fundamentally materialist approach that sees students as units of production subordinated to the demands of the market”.
While the bishops accept that EU 2020 paper is a reasonable summary of some of the challenges facing the EU over the next 10 years they argue that securing the support of stakeholders such as social partners and civil society would be easier if the vision for an efficient and innovative market economy is supplemented by policies for solidarity that across national borders to assist the most disadvantaged.

The bishops suggest that the EU faces much more fundamental issues than short-term economic problems: “If the financial crisis and economic recession has shown us anything it is that the very fabric of our economy and society was unstable. Europe’s citizens are now looking for something more stable and sustainable.”

To read the full submission of the bishops click here.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Mothers' Union in the Diocese in Europe


Mrs Barbara Wood, the Diocesan President of the Mothers' Union (MU) has recently written to all the members of the MU in the diocese with news and an update on the development of the organisation here in Europe. Barbara is delighted with continued growth of the MU and hope for even greater things in the future.

In her letter she writes:
"When we decided to take the leap of faith and start our own diocesan Mothers’ Union in 2007 we did so with just 4 branches and a few diocesan members. We now have 9 branches and quite a number of diocesan members, which is most encouraging, but I would like to see our membership grow especially in those parts of the diocese where there is no presence at the moment. We need to try to make more people aware of the work that is done throughout the world, to encourage more people to support the Mothers’ Union and then to become members.
In this diocese Sheila Lewis from Lanzarote is looking after Action & Outreach. We are also delighted that Joyce Bache from Poitou-Charentes in France is going to be our AFIA (Away from it all) Representative. Joyce is very keen to look at the possibility of providing some sort of Caravan holidays within the diocese for those in real need. This is a very exciting development and, having seen the impact of such holidays in the UK, would be a wonderful ‘outreach’ project for us all to engage in. Carol Johnston from Nerja is our new Secretary and will be looking at developing the role to suit our diocese. Valerie Ellis continues with ‘Faith & Policy’, Archdeacon David Sutch as Chaplain and the Revd Jim Sutton as Treasurer
‘Relationship not Rules’ is the theme for 2010 when we will all have the opportunity to celebrate the relationships we have built up with God, our families, friends, neighbours, churches, communities and the wider world and to learn how to recognise and experience God’s presence in our lives". .
As well as individual members scattered throughout Europe, there are Mothers' Union branches in:

Costa del Sol East (Spain)
Hamburg (Germany)
Lanzarote (Canary Islands)
Nerja and Almuñécar (Spain)
Malta & Gozo
Oulu (Finland)
Padua (Italy)
Poitou Charentes (France)
Torrevieja (Spain)

For more details about Mothers' Union Diocese in Europe please contact Mrs Barbara Woods, barbaramueurope@mix360.co.uk. The Mother's Union website is here.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Pope Benedict Calls for Common Witness


Pope Benedict XVI has issued a call to all Christians to give a common witness starting immediately, even though full unity has not yet been achieved. He made this appeal during his homily at Vespers in the Roman Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls (above), on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 25th January, a service which traditionally concludes the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Pope recalled that this year is the 100th anniversary of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, which marked the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement. That historic gathering in 1910 stressed that Christians cannot proclaim the Gospel credibly if they are divided.

The Pope urged Churches to take steps that lead to full communion; questions still separate us, but the Holy Father expressed the hope that these can be overcome by prayer and dialogue. He affirmed he importance of the "central content of Christ's message that we can all proclaim together". That message is "the fatherhood of God, the victory of Christ over sin and death with his cross and resurrection, and confidence in the Spirit's transforming action".

The Pope listed some common challenges on which Christians can give a common witness:
  • the safeguarding of creation
  • promotion of the common good and of peace
  • the defense of the centrality of the human person
  • the commitment to overcome the miseries of our time such as hunger, indigence, illiteracy, and the unequal distribution of goods
  • secularization and indifference
  • the difficult ethical topics in regard to the beginning and end of life. 
  • the limits of science and of technology
  • dialogue with other religions
The Pope's words will have much resonance in the Diocese in Europe which has a strong ecumenical vocation and commitment. In scores of places across the diocese our clergy and people joined with other Christians to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, such as in St Bartholomew's, Dinard, France (pictured below).



Sunday, 24 January 2010

Deacon Lindy Jordan RIP


It is with great sadness that I share the news of the untimely death of the Revd Deacon Lindy Jordan. Lindy died on Saturday morning as a result of complications from some routine surgery which she underwent last Monday. She was the assistant curate of St Andrew's Costa del Sol East, where she worked with the Venerable David Sutch, the Archdeacon of Gibraltar. I ordained Lindy to the diaconate last Petertide.

Bishop Geoffrey wrote in a message to the parish of Costa del Sol East:

"...[Lindy] rejoiced in the fulfilment of her calling to the ordained ministry, which has sadly been so short. We remember with thanksgiving her many gifts of mind and heart, and I recall personally her capacity to read the Scriptures, as she did at the Cologne Clergy Conference last September, in a way which drew out meaning and touched and challenged us".
The Revd Ulla Monberg, the diocesan Director of Training, wrote to Lindy's colleagues in our Post Ordination Training Course:

"I am aware that for those of you who trained with Lindy at ERMC this is particularly devastating news. The one comforting thought that came to mind as I heard of her death was that the call to ordination and to serve God’s Church was a life-long aspiration for Lindy, and in the very last part of her life she was to see this desire come to fruition as she was ordained Deacon last year. She joined the Post Ordination Training group for the first time in November and wrote to me just eight days ago that she hoped to be fully recovered from surgery by the next POT in May. Lindy was a much valued member of the Chaplaincy of Costa Del Sol East where she served her curacy and she was to have been ordained priest this coming Petertide".

Plans for Lindy's funeral are not yet finalised, but it is likely to be on Thursday or Friday this week, in Fuengirola, Spain. A memorial service is planned for 9 April in St Andrew's, Costa del Sol East. One may be held also in England. We join in prayer for Archdeacon David Sutch and for the people of Costa del Sol East, whom Lindy loved and served. And we commend Lindy into the loving embrace of Almighty God. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Bishop Irenaeus Elected Patriarch of Serbia



The Serbian Orthodox Church has elected Bishop Irenaeus (Gavrilovic), Bishop of Nis, (pictured above) as the new Patriarch of Serbia, succeeding Patriarch Pavle who died on 15 November. The 45 bishops which make up the electoral assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church named three candidates on Friday morning 22nd of January: Metropolitan Amphilochius of Montenegro, Bishop Irenaeus of Backa and Bishop Irenaeus of Nis, and chose the new Patriarch by lot. Bishop Irenaeus is already quite senior in years, having been born in 1930. He has been bishop of Nis (a large town in southern Serbia and the birthplace of St Constantine the Great) for 35 years. He is a graduate of the Theological Faculty in Belgrade and did a doctorate in Athens, and known to be a "moderate" among the bishops. The inauguration of the new Patriarch in Belgrade will be this Saturday at 9 am. As the historic Patriarchal See is Pec, the solemn enthronement will be held there, in due course when conditions permit.



The Revd Robin Fox, the priest-in-charge of St Mary's Belgrade, is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarios (emissary) to the Serbian Patriarchate. Fr Robin is keeping in touch with the Patriarchal authorities and hopes to represent the Anglican Communion in the Cathedral in Belgrade on Saturday 23rd of January.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Bishops' Appeal for Haiti









An Appeal from Bishop Geoffrey and Bishop David for the People of Haiti

The devastation suffered by the people of Haiti by the earthquake which struck on 12 January has caught the attention of us all. Already the poorest country in the Americas, with 80% of the people living on less than £1.50 per day, the struggle of the country’s poor in the face of this disaster is unimaginable.

We invite the congregations and people of our diocese to support the needs of the Haitian people by donating generously to the Christian Aid Appeal for Haiti. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have endorsed this particular channel for relief aid.

Christian Aid is working with partners on the ground and with the UN for the effective delivery of aid. Local partner organisations are focusing on areas that appear to be getting little help from other agencies, including some towns outside Port-au-Prince, but close to the epicentre of the earthquake. The provision of food, tents, hygiene kits, blankets, jerry cans for water and water purifiers, and emergency medical support are the priorities being addressed.

Whether you have special collections at the time of Church services, or hold special fund-raising events, we hope that you will respond generously to this immediate humanitarian crisis.

Chaplaincies and congregations can make transfers to the Christian Aid appeal from their current account at the Diocesan Office, or send cheques (in Sterling or another currency) made out to the "Diocese in Europe", or make transfers into the usual diocesan Sterling bank account (details available from Nick Wraight: nick.wraight@c-of-e.org.uk

Details of the Christian Aid appeal can be found on their website: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/

Advance notice of Lent and Advent Appeals 2010

For your longer term planning, please note that we will be sending information about the 2010 Lent Appeal within the next couple of weeks. It will be in support of a USPG project in Burma.

The 2010 Advent Appeal will respond to the needs of the Anglican Diocese of Haiti. Where the present Christian Aid appeal addresses the immediate humanitarian crisis, in Advent we will address the longer-term needs of our Anglican partner church, which has over 100,000 people, 37 priests, 250 schools from primary to university level, a hospital, as well as the only nursing school and the only school for disabled children in the country. Much of this work has been destroyed or badly damaged; over 100 of the 170 church buildings have been flattened. Although 10 months away, by Advent 2010 we will have a clear indication from Bishop Zaché Duracin of a priority area for support as he rebuilds the mission infrastructure of his diocese.


But for now, please continue to pray for the people of Haiti in this their time of need, and for those who are involved in the relief efforts, and please respond generously to the Christian Aid appeal to help bring humanitarian assistance to our Haitian brothers and sisters.

+Geoffrey                     +David


Further report from Haiti, via St Michael's Paris


The Revd Philip Mounstephen of St Michael's Paris has forwarded me this report which comes directly from one of his parishioners, Robyn Gason. She is the only worker with the French Red Cross who was invited to go to Haiti with the International Committee of the Red Cross.






Dear All,
Have finally got a moment to write.
Arrived in Port au Prince on Sunday, having attended a briefing in Geneva and then travelled over two days to Haiti via Madrid, Saint Juan and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), arriving in late evening.
Most of us are sleeping outside in the garden of the ICRC headquarters with mosquito nets. We had an after-shock today which measured 6.2. It felt like being in a water bed. It was quite scary, but thankfully it wasn't serious and there was no widespread damage.
You cannot believe the suffering here. One of my colleagues who visited the morgue this morning, who has been doing forensic work for 25 years, said she has never seen anything like what she saw today, especially in terms of the total lack of organisation regarding the dead. Most families will not know where their relatives are buried or even be able to confirm whether they have died.
I am currently looking after a centre that is enabling people to make calls to their family members abroad, and also to register themselves as 'safe and well' on a family links website. Their relatives accessing the website abroad will be able to check to see if their family members have survived and where they might be located; they are also able to record the names of those they are looking for . Today I went out into the streets to promote the service and to allow people to make calls on the satellite phone. The people are living in absolute misery, located in camps all over the city. They will probably eventually be relocated to larger camps.
I have 4 volunteers from the Haitian Red Cross working with me. They are all bright and very helpful. All of them are doing fourth-year tertiary studies, but have no idea when, or if, their studies will resume. They tell me that only one percent of the population receive a tertiary education.
Just over the wall from where we are sleeping, groups of people are praising God for most of the night and praying. Most of the Haitians I've spoken to are believing Christians and believe that God's intervention is the only way through.
We get up around 6am and work finishes around 9-10 at night. Long days. Tonight, though, was special. We had a raclette. Food and water are scarce.
The situation is absolutely dire. Can't imagine anything worse, except that the people have faith, and this makes all the difference.
Thank you for your prayers.
Much love,
Robyn

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

New Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, the Venerable Jonathan LLoyd



On 20 January during the eucharist at the Bishop's Senior Staff Meeting, the Revd Jonathan LLoyd was collated as Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe. Archdeacon LLoyd is also the chaplain of St Alban's Copenhagen.

Among the 7 archdeaconries in the Diocese in Europe, Germany and Northern Europe is the second largest in area, after the Archdeaconry of the East. 23 licensed priests serve over 40 congregations in Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Among the many interesting features in the Archdeaconry include a sort of "joint deanery" in Germany, where the parishes of the [US] Episcopal Church join with our own Church of England congregations in a common council, known as the Council of Anglican-Episcopal Churches in Germany, CAECG. In the northern part of the Archdeaconry the Porvoo Agreement brings us into communion with most of the national Lutheran Churches of the area, and joint work, ministry and cooperation continue to develop and deepen. One of the largest communities in the diocese is in the archdeaconry, known as  the "White Nile Congregations in Finland", who are Sudanese in background and whose worship is from the Book of Common Prayer in Arabic. 

Archdeacon LLoyd is assisted by the Area Dean of the Nordic and Baltic States, the Revd Nick Howe, based in Stockholm, and the Area Dean of Germany, the Revd Christopher Jage-Bowler, based in Berlin. As Archdeacon, Fr Jonathan also becomes a member of the Cathedral Chapter, with the named stall of St Henry of Finland, in the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Brussels.

Archbishop of York Urges Support for Christian Aid Haiti Appeal


The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd John Sentamu, has issued a statement urging people to support the Christian Aid appeal for Haiti:

"I think at times like this our reaction as Christians must always be one of passionate engagement. As John Donne said 'No one is an island entire of itself. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in humanity'. For the lives that are left, we need a response that asks not to understand but to do all we can to change the situation in whatever ways that are open to us. Why not give to Christian Aid today and make a difference? Please support the appeal by visiting this site.
I have also received some more news about my friend, the Revd Canon Ogé Beauvoir, the Dean of the seminary in Port-au-Prince, and a former colleague in the Canadian Church. Canon Beauvoir and his wife Serette are safe and providing leadership in a camp set up by the Episcopal diocese for about 3,000 homeless, where they themselves have taken refuge. The Anglican Sisters of St Margaret are also in the camp assisting the people.

Canon Beauvoir described grim conditions. "It is hard to get food and medicine because everything is closed," he said. At this point, they have water, but the camp only has access to one water tank, and the water is running lower. There is a single truck that takes the injured to the hospital and the dead to be buried. The hospital has been turning back some of the injured. They can't take that many".

At the time of the earthquake Canon Beauvoir and his wife were in their home. "I thought the house was going to crash," he said, but they managed to escape without injury. "For the first time I was certain I faced death. I was certain we were going to die."

Among the major installations of the Episcopal Church that have been destroyed are the seminary, the convent, the university, the cathedral and the vocational training school. More than 100 of the diocese’s churches have been damaged or destroyed.

Here is another prayer for Haiti, this one written by the Venerable Dr Fritz Bazin, a Haitian-born priest, now serving as Archdeacon for Immigration and Social Concerns for the Episcopal Diocese of South East Florida:

Almighty Father, God of mercies and giver of comfort, deal graciously, we pray, with the people of Haiti in the midst of the great suffering caused by the catastrophic earthquake. May they cast all their care on you and know the consolation of your love.
Give us the courage, zeal, wisdom and patience to assist them, not only in these first days and weeks of urgent need, but as they continue to need the care and partnership of all their sisters and brothers around the world in the long and difficult work of healing and rebuilding.
Grant eternal life to those who have died, healing to the injured and strength to all the survivors, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Monday, 18 January 2010

Diocesan Environmental Officer Reflects after Copenhagen





Brian Morgan, the Diocesan Environmental Officer, has written this reflection for the clergy and laity of the diocese, following the disappointment of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP15, in Copenhagen last December.

The eyes of the whole world were focused though out 2009 on the much heralded UN Climate Change Conference COP15 which was held in Copenhagen from the 7th to 18th December. I do not think I exaggerate if I call the final outcome a near disaster for God's creation and mankind. For the world leaders at the table it was not possible to reach a fair, ambitious or binding agreement to arrest the increase in global warming within + 2° C, remembering it is the world's poorest people who are prone to suffer the most. Lust for pride, possessions and power, man's most mournful sins, stood in the way of any chance of a multilateral contract.

Through out the year millions of people all around the globe have been making their fears and anger about global warming known to their leaders and governments by way of rallies, protest marches, protest letters, church services and prayer. Many have adapted their own lifestyles to live more environmentally friendly by way of an example. But clearly it is the governments of the super rich countries of today that are not prepared to see cuts in their industrial production nor provide funds to help the poorer nations face the challenge of climate change.

Does the human race deserve to survive?
How tempting it is to ask this question after the results of COP15. Perhaps those who care about the world in all its beauty and biodiversity and as a dwelling place of future generations were just expecting too much too quickly. Hence the great disappointments and anger! But I believe they - we - were right to expect a binding agreement from COP15 and I can only take solace from the fact that things are perhaps not quite as grim as they may seem. Much has been hopefully learnt by all governments, especially the recognition by rich countries that they can no longer bulldoze the poorer nations into accepting terms which are to their disadvantage. Hopefully there will be more political, social and economic goodwill offered at future meetings. Further conferences are planned for 2010 and this time all eyes will be on COP16 to be held in Mexico City in December. Please continue to protest, rally, write petitions and pray for an international binding agreement on climate change in 2010.

In fact may I recommend that all churches in our Diocese start planning NOW for Creationtide – a Time for God's Creation - as a season in September/October! And may I encourage you to also remember Climate Change in your Lent studies and prayers.
(The Church of England Liturgical Commission has resources available for A Time for God's Creation here)

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Revd Ken Dimmick - 25 years of priesthood


Warm congratulations and many blessings to the Revd Kenneth Dimmick of St Catherine's Stuttgart, who celebrates his 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood this weekend. Fr Ken came to Europe from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, although he was ordained in Louisiana. Under Fr Ken's leadership in these past three years, St Catherine's has seen new growth and vitality. I have been using Fr Ken as a consultant for our new diocesan programme to assisting new congregations and revitalise the mission of older ones.

There are a wide range of activities at St Catherine's including Sunday school for children, adult study groups, fellowship events, women's group and choir. People have responded warmly to Fr Ken's approach, which he describes as follows:

While .... part of the Church of England, we gladly welcome people of any denomination. There is room in our church for all sorts and varieties of Christian Faith. We are proudly Anglican in our tradition, music, and liturgy, yet express our faith in a way that includes many different cultures. Presently we represent over 18 nations from all around the world. Young and old, children and parents, black, white, yellow, and brown,... all have found a home at St. Catherine's Church.
There have been Anglican services in Stuttgart since the early 19th century. For more information about this historic yet very up-to-date congregation, visit the website here.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Another Prayer for Haiti


"God, you are the one who gave me life. Why are we suffering?"
- these are lines of a song being sung among the survivors of Haiti's earthquake camped overnight in Place St. Pierre, Port-au-Prince. (Source The Miami Herald). The words sum up the hard questions that are sometimes asked of people of faith at times of disaster. People wonder how God can let such suffering and death happen. Where is God in all this?

There are some very stupid answers to these questions. One U.S. television "evangelist", Pat Robertson, said on his programme, “They (Haitians) were under the heel of the French…and they got together and swore a pact to the devil". What utter nonsense. (If you don't believe a Christian preacher could say such disgraceful things, click here and see the video clip. But if you do continue watching for the excellent response from a Haitian spokesman.)

In the Gospel (St John 9.1-3) Jesus clearly refutes any direct connection between our moral condition and our fate in this world. So let us be absolutely clear: our God does not cause evil, and does not take violent retribution on people because of their past behaviour.

Instead, to seek answers we need to ponder the word of the LORD from Isaiah (43.2) "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you". God is in the midst of human tragedy. God suffers with those who suffer and mourns with those who mourn. Where is God in this tragedy? Surely in the midst of the rubble of Port-au-Prince, suffering with the wounded, weeping with the bereaved, binding up the broken hearted.

We continue to keep the people of Haiti in our prayers especially in our churches this Sunday. Do give generously to agencies engaged in the relief efforts.

Here is another prayer for Haiti, prepared by the Revd Peter Moger, the Church of England's Worship Development Officer:

O God, our refuge and strength,
we hold before you the nation and people of Haiti,
and pray for healing in the midst of tragedy and devastation.
Give comfort to the homeless, the bereaved and the suffering,
courage to survivors,
wisdom to those who seek to help,
and light to all who live in the shadow of death.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ,
our rock and our salvation. Amen.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury's Message to the People of Haiti

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued this message of support to the people of Haiti affected by the devastation caused by Tuesday's earthquake.

"I am profoundly shocked and concerned to hear about the devastating earthquake in Haiti. As the news comes through, we are learning more about the tragic loss of life, injury suffered and terrible damage to the country. We stand alongside all the people in Haiti affected by this terrible disaster in prayer, thought and action as the situation unfolds. We pray for the rescue of those still trapped and look towards the rebuilding of lives and communities.

I commend the swift action of the UK Government's Department for International Development and the relief agencies and churches in mobilising an emergency response. In this time of catastrophic loss and destruction, I urge the public to hold the people of Haiti in their prayers, and to give generously and urgently to funding appeals set up for relief work."

For those in the UK who wish to donate to Christian Aid's Haiti Earthquake Appeal, click http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/

For those in the United States who wish to donate through Episcopal Relief and Development, click http://www.er-d.org/

For those in Canada who wish to donate through The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, click http://www.pwrdf.org/

Haiti update


News has come in from some sources in our diocese who have contacts in Haiti. Victoria Hobson, together with her husband the Revd George Hobson, at St Michael's Paris has a long association Haiti. Victoria received this news from an Episcopal Priest friend in Haiti, Fr Kesner Ajax:





Dear Friends in Christ:
We have devastating news to share with you from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake yesterday. According to reports I have received here in Les Cayes, the damage in Port au Prince and areas around it is terrible. There is no Cathedral. The entire Holy Trinity complex is gone. The convent for the Sisters of St. Margaret is gone. The Bishop's house is gone. College St. Pierre is gone. The apartment for College St. Pierre is still standing. Bishop no longer has a house in which to live. In Trouin, four people were killed during a service. In Grand Colline, the church is gone. In St Martin of Tours, the kindergarten is gone. In St. Etienne Buteau the church, the rectory and the school are gone. In Les Cayes, Bishop Tharp Institute is OK, but some people were injured trying to get out of the buildings during the quake. The rectory in Les Cayes is in very bad condition.
The Revd Kesner Ajax
Victoria told the Revd Philip Moustephen at St Michael's

I am particularly affected by what has happened in Haiti, and especially to the church in Haiti, as my great-great grandfather, Bishop Alonzo Potter of Pennsylvania, had a role in the ordination of the first Anglican (Episcopal) bishop in Haiti, a black freedman who had been ordained priest to pastor a church for blacks in New Haven, well before the Emancipation Proclamation. I was deeply touched when I learned that this first Haitian Anglican bishop (who met Queen Victoria, preached at Westminster, and attended the second Lambeth conference) had named his first son (later a medical doctor who set up the first medical center in Port-au-Prince) Alonzo Potter Holly, after my forbear. I think I mentioned this to you before. For some reason it moved me to the core....There has also been considerable loss of life on the island, and the whole country must be in deepest mourning, and in need of the consolation of the church, when the church itself is on its knees!


But some particularly tragic news comes from Holy Trinity, Geneva, via Claudine Haenni Dale:

Helena and Samuel Mbele-Mbong's daughter Lisa Anne was killed in the collapse of the human rights section of the building that housed the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in Port-au-Prince, where she worked as a human rights officer.
Helena is a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Parish in Geneva (part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe) and is well known in our own diocese where she has worked together with us on partners in mission and jurisdictional questions. Our prayers are with Helena, Samuel and their grandson Nady, who survived the quake.

Haiti


For 10 years I worked very closely with the Haitian Church when I was the Mission Co-ordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Anglican Church of Canada, and visited many times. I have many friends in L’Église Épiscopale d’Haïti, which is the largest in population of all the dioceses of the Episcopal Church, serving about 150,000 people, in about 170 congregations. The work of our Church there has been impressive, with over 250 schools, a hospital, medical clinics, a symphony orchestra, the country’s only school for handicapped children, agricultural and micro-economic projects, a “Desmond Tutu” Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, and more.

A close friend, the Very Revd Ogé Beauvoir (above), is the dean of the seminary in Port-au-Prince. I tried in vain to contact them him, but there are no telephone lines operating. The head offices of the Canadian Anglican Church (Père Ogé, born in Haïti, was ordained in the diocese of Montreal) and the Episcopal Church, USA had no news. I heard late tonight that Ogé and his wife Serette are safe and have taken refuge in the university football field with hundreds of others. Bishop Zaché Duracin and his wife are also safe. However, according to reports the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Port-au-Prince (pictured below) has been destroyed, along with adjacent Holy Trinity School, St Vincent’s school for the handicapped and the convent of St Margaret (the Anglican Sisters of Saint Margaret have had a presence in Haïti for decades). Among the thousands killed is the Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot.

The scale of destruction and the loss of life in what is already the poorest country in the Americas is enormous. It is a country where day to day survival has been difficult enough without the catastrophe that this earthquake has brought. There is a Haitian Créole proverb: Dèyè mòn, gin mòn, which means roughly, After one sorrow, more sorrows...

Pray for those who have died, for those who are injured, for those who have lost loved ones, and for those who work to bring relief.

Loving God of creation, at this time of devastation
we hold before you the people of Haiti.
When the damage is unimaginable,
and the suffering seems overwhelming,
remind us that every person affected
is loved, honoured and precious in your sight.
We remember all those who have been hurt;
all who have lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones,
and those who have died.
Work through us to bring healing to broken and distorted lives,
peace to those who have been thrown into despair,
light to those in darkness, and hope to those who fear.
We ask this in the name of Jesus
in whom all life and grace is found. Amen
Christian Aid has an appeal for Haiti here.



Tuesday, 12 January 2010

St George's Barcelona launches new website


St George's Barcelona is updating its internet presence with a completely redesigned website, recently launched. The design work, photography and content editing was all done "in house" by St George's members while the programming work was contracted out. The chaplain, the Revd Andrew Tweedy (left), is delighted with the outcome. Why not take a look at the new site here. (The photo is our diocesan file one, and given the background, does not appear to have been taken in Barcelona!)

For over a century and a half St George's has been serving an international community in Barcelona. There are now more than 25 nationalities in the congregations which gather for worship at one of the three regular Sunday services. There has also been a recent surge in vocations to lay ministry and 3 persons from St George's are now training to be Readers.

By the way, St George is the patron saint of Catalonia as well as England (and a number of other places besides).

The Revd Andrew Tweedy is also a blogger. Check out his Esperamos blog here.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Letter from Taizé



On the 28 December, Brother Alois, the Prior of the Taizé Community sent me a copy of “A Letter from China”. He had just completed a three-week visit to China with two other brothers, one Chinese and another Korean. They were greatly influenced by the testimonies they saw and heard.

A Letter from China contains a deeply spiritual message encouraging us to pay attention to what is already found in the depths of our own being, as a way of listening to God. It makes the point that being filled with a thirst for God should not detach us from the concerns of the world around us. “On the contrary, this thirst leads us to do all we can so that others may enjoy the benefits of creation and find joy in living”.

In the letter there is also a very simple instruction about putting together an ecumenical prayer service in the style of Taizé. This is a useful resource for our congregations, some of which already have regularTaizé services (such as in the Parish of Nerja and Almuñécar). Others may be contemplating adding such a service to their ministry.

The Taizé Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox, from around thirty nations. It understands itself to be a “parable of community” that wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples. Pope John XXIII remarked of the community, "Ah, Taizé, that little springtime".

I encourage you to read the letter which can be found on the Taizé website via this link.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

1,950th Anniversary of St Paul's Shipwreck on Malta



According to Acts (chapters 27 and 28) St Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta while en route to Rome. By tradition the shipwreck took place in AD 60. This year, then, marks the 1,950th anniversary of the event.

The Apostle and his companions were treated well on Malta:  "The natives showed us unusual kindness" (Acts 28.2). Present day travellers will also find they are treated well and in addition will be warmly welcomed to our Anglican churches! There are two Anglican congregations in Malta: St Paul's Pro-Cathedral in Valletta (pictured above) and Holy Trinity Church in Sliema (pictured below). There is a third congregation in the neighbouring island of Gozo, Our Lady and St George in Victoria. These are served by the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey SSC (Chancellor of St Paul's Pro-Cathedral), the Revd Jeff Williams SSC (Chaplain of Sliema) and a Reader, Mr David Felgate. The Pro-Cathedral of St Paul will celebrate the Feast of the Shipwreck on 7 February.

The website of the Anglican Church in Malta and Gozo is here, and includes an informative green page which is a good straightforward model for other parish websites.

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Malta on April 17-18 to mark this anniversary year of the Shipwreck of St Paul.


Friday, 8 January 2010

A Resource for Bereavement Ministry


The Revd John Porter, a priest with permission to officiate in our diocese, has written a very helpful booklet, entitled BEING THERE, Caring for the Bereaved

The description on the cover of the publication states:
Jesus, the man for others, was there for people in his earthly life and ministry and is present today in and through his Church. John Porter is a priest who has sought, in the course of nearly half a century of parish ministry, to follow the example of Jesus and simply to ‘be there’ for others. In this book, he writes from his experience and insights gained from being with people in bereavement. Learning both from his own ministry and from that of others, he gives examples of what to do, and what not to do, sometimes using gentle humour to make his point.
Although this book is not intended to serve as a manual for the pastoral care of the bereaved, it does offer some practical advice and support for those who find themselves called to ‘be there’ for someone who is experiencing bereavement, whether this forms part of a frequent ministry or happens from time to time.
After nearly 45 years of active parochial ministry in England, Fr John retired to northern France where he continues to assist in the Pas-de-Calais Anglican Chaplaincy.

I warmly commend this publication to the many readers of our diocese who are engaged in funeral and bereavement ministry, to parish bereavement teams, as well as to the clergy, of course.

Copies can be obtained from
SLG Press, Convent of the Incarnation Fairacres, Parker Street Oxford OX4 1TB England, price £3.50.
The website for SLG press is http://www.slgpress.co.uk/

ISBN 978-0-7283-0176

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Leading your Church into Growth



Those of our diocesan clergy and readers who are looking for resources or training in matters of church growth, might wish to take a look at a four day course run in partnership with CMS (Church Mission Society) called “Leading your Church into Growth”. This is a programme, now in its eighteenth year, specifically designed for clergy and lay leaders from across different traditions (and denominations) who are looking for help and encouragement in various aspects of church growth. It is geared more towards revitalising the local existing congregation or congregations as opposed to "planting" new, fresh expressions of Church. Growth, for the organisers, includes growth in spirituality, commitment and worship as well as numbers!

The course takes the form of an open seminar with interactive talks, practical exercises and time and space for personal reflection. The leadership team is drawn from the full range of churchmanship and theological traditions.

Course Topics Include:
• Becoming a positive leader
• Leading a positive team
• Understanding our context and mission field
• Becoming a mission church
• Sharing practical mission event ideas
• Preparing and stimulating lay people for evangelism
• Establishing growth structures, strategies and principles
• Encouraging missionary worship
• Developing a culture of invitation and welcome
• Creating a church community

There are also selected workshops on various topics.

The courses are run at Walsingham (1 – 4 February), High Leigh (14 – 17 June) and Swanwick (1 – 4 November). The cost for full board and all resources for the 4 day programme is £249 per person. For licensed clergy and readers of the diocese, this would be a course eligible for CME grant support.

If you wish more information please contact: tracielycig@yahoo.co.uk or telephone +44 1274 604 904 or +44 7799845954.

There is a website for the programme, with some further information, here.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy Epiphany


The traditional icon of the Epiphany is that of the baptism of Jesus because one of the most ancient dimensions of this feast is the baptism of Our Lord, which now in the Western Church is celebrated on the Sunday following the Epiphany. In that event, in a mystical and unique way, the Holy Trinity itself is made manifest: the Father speaks a word "this is my Son, the beloved", the Spirit descends like a dove, and of course the presence of Christ the Son, identifying completely with humanity, as he, the sinless one accepts the baptism for repentance.

Epiphany is a feast of light even though it is the day when in the West, the Christmas lights traditionally come down. One of the treasures of Western Christianity is the Ambrosian rite, still used in the Archdiocese of Milan. I find it much more poetic than the starker Roman rite which is the basis of Anglican liturgy. This introit from the eucharist of the day, and this prayer from evensong, help capture the motif of light for this feast.
A blessed Epiphany to all readers of this blog!
La città celeste no è illuminata né da sole né da luna, ma le dà luce la gloria di dio. Al suo splendore camminerano le nazioni, e verranno i re della terra a portarle i loro tesori.
The heavenly city is not illuminated either by sun or moon, but by the light of God’s glory. To its radiant splendour the nations will walk and the kings of the earth will bring their treasures. (cf Revelation 21.23-24).

Padre onnipotente, al popolo che giaceva nelle tenebre hai donato una grande luce; fa’ che ricerchiamo sempre il Signore Gesù e lo conosciamo ogni giorno più intimamente accrescendo la fede del nostro battesimo. Per lui che vive e regna nei secoli dei secoli.
Father Almighty, you gave a great light to the people who lay in darkness; grant that we may always seek the Lord Jesus and know him more intimately every day, growing in the faith of our baptism. Through him who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

January 2010 Book Selection

Here is January'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. 8 reviews are below. Just click on the read more link.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Myths about the Diocese in Europe: Number 1 - "It's Just the Brits Abroad"


Many in the UK are surprised to discover that the Church of England has a diocese with significant, historic and expanding work on the continent of Europe together with Morocco, Turkey and "all the Russias".  And many who do know about this Diocese in Europe assume that we are simply "the Brits abroad”. But this is far from the case. Globalisation has brought to Europe peoples from every part of the world. Many of these are Christians whose mother tongue or international language is English.

Some of our 270 congregations have a majority of their members from one particular nationality or ethnic background. They might be English or British, but also Tamil, Nigerian, Sudanese, Congolese, Turkish, Ghanaian and American. The largest parish in membership could easily be the “White Nile Congregations” of Finland, whose priest, the Revd Amos Manga, cares for several hundred Sudanese families. But most of our congregations are made up of members from a mixture of at least a dozen different nationalities or ethnic backgrounds. Some churches have over 30 different nationalities present at Sunday worship. Our present group of ordinands and those in our Post-Ordination Training programme include men and women of Nigerian, South African, Sudanese, Turkish, Finnish, American, as well as English ethnic origin. No wonder my chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, calls the diocese “the Anglican Communion in miniature”.

This rich diversity is a gift. It helps to sharpen our understanding of what God is calling us to be and to do in Europe. The Church is to make visible, in her life and witness, the unity which is God’s will for all people. In a world of divided peoples and nations the Church is to be a beacon of a diverse humanity living in unity. The Bible does not speak of the peoples of the world as if we were a uniform monochrome mass; it speaks of the nations. St Paul teaches that distinctions of race and tradition are not barriers to unity (Colossians 3.11). The vision of the book of Revelation is of God's kingdom made up of people of "every language, tribe, people and nation" (Revelation 5.9). God brings us together as Church, rich in all our diversity, for a common purpose, to be a sign of unity, hope and reconciliation for the human family.