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.



Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Revd Canon Mel Smith Licensed in Mallorca



On 29 June, the Revd Robert Ellis, Chaplain of Mallorca, duly commissioned by the bishop, licensed the Reverend Canon Willam Melvyn (Mel) Smith, as Assistant Chaplain in the Anglican Church of Mallorca. There are three Anglican congregations on the island, St Philip and St James in Palma de Mallorca, St Andrew's in Puerto Pollensa, and Santa Maria del Mar in Cala d'Or. As Assistant Chaplain, Fr Mel will be responsible for work in the north of the island, centred in Puerto Pollensa.

The above photo shows a gathering for a few drinks in the Bar Cultural after the licensing. The Eucharist was in the RC Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen where worship is held each Sunday. (Left to right: Reader Linda Cade, Ibiza Chaplain Bob Short, retired priest Roy Greenwood, Mel and Kasia Smith, Congregational Wardens Mary Payne and Geoff Thomas, Mallorca Chaplain Robert Ellis).

Fr Mel has served as the Diocesan Stewardship and Resources Officer of the Diocese of Worcester. He has wide experience in the Church of England in supporting parishes and congregations and in training clergy and lay ministers in matters of stewardship. He has taken many locum duties in our diocese in the past, and therefore comes with some understanding of our unique challenges. We welcome Fr Mel and his wife Kasia to this diocese.

The website of the Anglican Church in Mallorca is here.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Remembrance Service for Crew of HMS E18 in Tallinn

Photo from Wikipedia
In late May 1916 HMS E18, a submarine sent by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, to support the Russian Fleet, left the port of Tallinn and was lost along with its crew of 31 while on patrol in the Baltic Sea. For over 90 years the wreck had never been found. It was discovered in October 2009, off the coast of the Estonian Island of Hiiumaaa, by a remotely operated underwater vehicle deployed by a Swedish survey vessel. It is believed that the E18 was sunk by a German mine, possibly on 2 June 1916.

On 30 May in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tallinn, a Service of Remembrance held for the crew members who perished in the disaster. The service was conducted jointly by the Very Revd Gustav Piir, (the Church of England priest-in-charge in Tallinn), Revd Sean Carter RN, and the Revd Tõnis Kark of the Estonian Defence Force. Wreaths were laid by British and Russian representatives of the families, embassies and veterans associations, and a plaque was dedicated in memory of those who served and lost their lives in HM Submarine E18.

There is discussion under way about designating the site of the sinking of HMS E18 as a Maritime Military Grave.


The Very Revd Gustav Piir (above) is a priest of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia, which is in communion with the Church of England, under the Porvoo Agreement. He is licensed in this Diocese as priest-in-charge of the congregation of St Timothy and St Titus, which meets in the 13 century Church of the Holy Spirit in Tallinn.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Walk to the end of the world!

The Revd Bob Bates, Chaplain of St Vincent’s in the Algarve, has recently completed a walk traversing the vast territory of the "parish" in the southernmost region of Portugal. (St Vincent's is made up, presently, of three congregations). Teaming up with Terry Ames of Algarve Walking Experience (grey shirt on the right) the pair walked the 260 kms from Alcoutim on the Spanish border to Cape St Vincent in just 7.5 days averaging just under 40 kms each day. The route chosen, called the Algarve Way, loosely follows the route which the Pilgrims of St Vincent took to the saint’s one time burial place at the south westerly extreme of Europe where mainland meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Whilst the initial aim of the walk was to raise the profile of the Church of England Chaplaincy in that part of the Diocese of Europe Father Bob was also able to raise over €3,000 through sponsorship to help to supply air conditioning units at the Lar São Vincente, a home for severely mentally disabled young people in Albufeira. In the photo below, Fr Bob is presenting the cheque to Dona Helena Serra the Director of the Lar São Vincente in Albufeira, in the presence of the Home's administrators Paula Faria (left) and Paula Mira (right).


Father Bob commented that whilst the walk was hard work, much of it through difficult terrain, and hindered by a foot injury, the weariness of the last stretch was forgotten as the walkers neared their destination to the sound of a bugle call, the popping of champagne corks and the arrival of a coach party of residents from the home to welcome them to journey’s end.

Congratulations Fr Bob, on a great achievement!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Canon Ray Jones Retires from St George's Ypres



St George's Memorial Church, Ypres, Belgium, was packed last Sunday for a special service of Evensong to mark the retirement of the Revd Canon Ray Jones. Clergy from Belgium, military personnel, representatives of the city of Ypres and province of West Flanders, ecumenical guests and many laity from St George's and neighbouring congregations came to say farewell. A choir from Dartford Parish Church sang the service.

After the Great War, St George's was built as a memorial to those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice in WWI. It has, over the years, become a place of pilgrimage for veterans, relatives of the fallen and in recent years, schoolchildren. Fr Ray has helped to develop a unique spiritual role for St George's, to deepen the experience of those who come to visit these battlefields, and to challenge them to search for God’s will for peace and reconciliation for humankind.

Prior to coming to St George's 10 years ago, Fr Ray served as a priest in Fuengirola, Spain. He has been a Diocesan Vocations Advisor and Reader Selector, conducting many discernment interviews with those who are testing their vocation to ordained or lay ministry. He has served on the Diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Communications Committee. Fr Ray also retires from being Area Dean of Belgium. Although Fr Ray has moved to his home in the Isle of Wight, happily, we will not lose touch with him as he will continue locum ministry duties in our diocese.


Canon Mark Oakley to St Paul's Cathedral, London

The Revd Canon Mark Oakley, currently Priest-in-Charge of Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, has been appointed Canon Treasurer of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. As a residentiary canon he will carry particular responsibility for the fabric and collections and will take his place alongside the other staff in the work and mission of the Cathedral, one of the most famous churches in the world.

I have had the privilege of working very closely with Fr Mark. Prior to his current post in Grosvenor Chapel, he was Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe and the chaplain of St Alban's Copenhagen. Like so many in this diocese I have come to appreciate his great gifts in ministry, and his joyous and creative approach to communicating the Gospel. His wit brightened many a boring diocesan meeting!

Commenting on his appointment, Fr Mark said,

"I am delighted to be joining the team at St Paul’s. It is an honour to be asked to contribute to the artistic and imaginative vocation of the cathedral and to help ensure that its magnificent building is encountered as a profound witness to the Gospel and a place for prayer.”
Canon Oakley's installation will be this autumn. We send him our best wishes and the assurance of our prayers.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Madeleine Holmes At European Christian Environmental Network

The new Diocesan Environmental Officer, Madeleine Holmes (above), represented the diocese at the 8th Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network, ECEN, in Prague from 9 - 13 June, one of 85 participants from 23 European countries. The theme for the assembly was Our Daily Bread - Living in a Time of Climate Change.  ECEN is the main instrument of the Conference of European Churches for addressing environmental issues, and also works closely with the World Council of Churches and with the Council of European (Roman  Catholic) Bishops' Conferences.

Madeleine notes that despite the disappointing outcome from the COP15 United Nations climate summit last December in Copenhagen, churches continue to be committed to addressing the challenges of global warming which threaten God's creation on earth. One way is to encourage Christians to review our eating habits. Intensive meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Madeleine writes, 
"The main thrust [of the ECEN] this year was regarding food - 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and the drive to provide cheap food comes at an environmental cost.  Giving up meat for one day a week - this would equal all the cars in the USA being taken off the road for one day!"
Furthermore, species and habitats are becoming extinct as human demands for cheaper unseasonable food take effect. Soils are becoming overstressed with agro-chemical input. Madeleine reports that much of what was discussed looked at more responsible purchasing habits with regard to food.
'Daily bread' for all is a gift of God. We are invited to recognise that food for life raises deep questions as people experiencing hunger or poor diet are not able to grow abundantly in the image of their Maker.
Thank you Madeleine for representing us at ECEN, and for drawing our attention to the connection between what we eat and care for the environment.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Anglican and Old Catholics Bishops' Meeting

Each year the Anglican and Old Catholic Bishops in Europe meet for consultation, prayer and fellowship. From 17 to 18 June we gathered at Propstei Wislikofen, a historic former monastery north of Zurich. A photo of the beautiful chapel is above.

As well as sharing information about news and developments in each jurisdiction, there was much discussion about the implications of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter and the response by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church, both dealing with the present divisions within the Anglican Communion. The decision by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, subsequent to the Archbishop of Canterbury's letter, to ask the Revd Carola Von Wrangel from the Episcopal Church to step down from membership on the Anglican-Old Catholic Coordinating Council was received with sadness by the bishops. We noted that the Coordinating Council is not strictly speaking an ecumenical dialogue, but an instrument of Churches already in communion, so we will be be following up this matter with the Anglican Communion Office.

We also spent some time discussing a paper by Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal  Churches in Europe entitled "Should the Episcopal Church Create a Missionary Diocese in Europe?".

Some present examples of current Church of England  / Old Catholic Cooperation in Europe include the Airport chaplaincy in Schiphol, Amsterdam, Mission to Seafarer's work in Vlissingen, and the joint parish of St Clement's in Prague.

Old Catholic bishops present at our meeting were (Archbishop) Joris Vercammen (Utrecht), Dick Schoon (Haarlem), Dušan Hejbal (Czech Republic), Matthias Ring (Germany), Joachim Vobbe (Emeritus, Germany), John Okoro (Austria) and Harald Rein (Switzerland). Besides Bishop Geoffrey and myself from the Church of England Diocese in Europe, Anglican bishops present were Jonathan Gledhill (Lichfield), Pierre Whalon (Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe), Carlos Lopez (Reformed Episcopal Church in Spain) and Mike Klusmeyer from West Virginia, USA.

One of our own clergy, Fr Dan Morrow, Assistant Chaplain in St Andrew's Zurich, was the secretary. Well done Dan. Having to spend a couple of days with 13 bishops could not have been easy!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

20 June: World Refugee Day

June 20 is designated each year by the United Nations as World Refugee Day, set aside to lift up the concerns of people around the world who have been displaced by war, violence and persecution. This year the UN has focused on commemorating those who have died on their way to seeking safety.

Only a small minority of the world's refugees find protection in Europe: 80% are hosted in the developing nations of Africa and Asia. Nevertheless, access to asylum procedures in EU countries is becoming increasingly difficult. Given the global refugee crisis, Doris Peschke, the General Secretary of the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe, has said that. “European countries can and have to do more to provide protection to refugees. In addition to assisting the poorer countries to provide protection, food, shelter and water, more European countries need to participate in and establish regular programmes to resettle refugees to European countries. The cooperation between UNHCR, governments and civil society organisations in these programmes would allow for much higher resettlement number than we currently see in Europe”.

People fleeing danger or poverty take huge risks to reach our shores. We may be familiar with pictures in the media of small boats arriving in Spain, Gibraltar, Malta, Italy and Greece, dangerously overcrowded with people seeking asylum, many of them suffering badly from exposure. Since 1993, one conservative estimate is that more than 13.000 persons have died on their way to Europe.

Our diocese is a jurisdiction of migrants! Therefore we are particularly aware of the vocation of Christians to open the door to foreigners amongst us: “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (St Matthew 25.35 ). Let us make regular intercession in our congregations for those who are seeking protection in our countries from persecution, injustice and threats to their lives, in their own. Let us not forget those who have died on their journey to find a dignified life in our continent. Let us explore further ways we can work with our partner churches in the countries where we live, in their advocacy for more fair and effective asylum procedures.

A Prayer for Refugees and Migrants
Blessed are you, God of all nations.You bless our countries richly with gifts of the earth and with people created in your image. Grant that we will be stewards and peacemakers who live as your children.
Blessed are you, Lord Jesus Christ.You crossed every border between divinity and humanity to make your home with us. Help us to welcome you in refugees, migrants and all newcomers to our nations.
Blessed are you, Holy Spirit. You work in the hearts of all to bring about harmony and goodwill. Strengthen us in human solidarity and in hope.
All-loving God, grant us vision to recognize your presence in our midst, especially in the stranger among us. Give us courage to open the door to our neighbours and grace to build a kingdom community. Amen.

Friday, 18 June 2010

309 Centres of Worship in the Diocese in Europe



The Revd Mark Collinson, the Chaplain of Christ Church Amsterdam, and Amsterdam South, in a comment on this blog, questioned of the "magic figure" of 270 congregations in this diocese. It is a number that has been in general use for a number of years. Mark writes that during his "idle hours" (I am certain he has few of these!), he counted the number of locations served by our diocese. He discovered that we actually offer worship in 309 locations. 170 provide worship every Sunday, and another 139 less frequently or not on Sunday. I have changed the welcome note at the top of this blog accordingly.

One of the newer congregation in the diocese is a plant from Christ Church Amsterdam known as "Amsterdam South". Christ Church (with Amsterdam South) has an attractive website here.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

St Catherine's Stuttgart Launches Organ Project

St Catherine's English Church, Stuttgart, built in 1867, was largely destroyed by Allied bombers in November 1944. After the war, the church, now mainly rubble, was sold to the Old Catholics who set about rebuilding it, using as many of the original stones and carvings as possible. Unfortunately, the fine English organ which was in one of the transepts could not be saved. When the renovations were completed, the Old Catholics invited the Church of England to return to the building to use it as guests. Both the Old Catholics and the Anglicans have had to make-do with a rather poor electronic instrument, not really fitting for the fine building and the growing musical tradition in St Catherine's.

In gratitude for many years of cooperation with our Old Catholic brothers and sisters, the Anglican congregation, under the leadership of the Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Ken Dimmick, has undertaken to complete "the final stage" of the rebuilding of the church by installing an English pipe organ back into the English church. A fine tracker instrument, dating from 1903, has been found and purchased and transported to Germany ready to be renovated and installed in St Catherine's. It will be a gift from the Anglicans to the Old Catholics, and a symbolic "healing of the last wounds of World War II".

On 5 June, Bishop Joachim Vobbe, the Emeritus Old Catholic Bishop of Germany, the Chairman of the District Council and a crowd of Anglicans and Old Catholics gathered in St Catherine's Church to launch the Organ Project. We received cheques from various fund-raising activities in Germany and the USA which have already raised over €17,000 towards the total cost of the project of €75,000.

On Sunday morning, several parishioners were confirmed and two were received into the communion of the Church of England, in a festive service.

Photos courtesy and copyright of James Palik ©2010 J. Palik








Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Fathers' Day Resources

Fathers' Day was first celebrated in 1910, in Spokane, WA, USA, and thus is 100 years old this year. In the countries of our diocese Fathers' Day is observed at different times of the year. Some celebrate it, logically, in conjunction with St Joseph's Day on 19 March: Andorra, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Some Nordic / Baltic countries mark the day on the second Sunday of November: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. There are some which follow the UK / USA pattern of the third Sunday in June: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine and many of our congregations in these countries will be mark the day this Sunday 20th June.

The Church of England has brought together some material that can be used at services for Fathers' Day. They are suitable for use this coming Sunday or whenever Fathers' Day will be observed in our congregations. Included is a prayer that can be used by children to pray for their fathers:

Loving God,
We thank you for the gift of good dads,
and everything that they do for us.
Help them to have
patience when we're difficult,
wisdom when we can't see the way,
strength when we need comforting,
and love at all times,
so that, though them,
we get a little glimpse of how you feel about us,
our heavenly Father. Amen.
There is also this prayer which can be used more generally, which draws upon the theme of St Joseph:

Heavenly Father,
you entrusted your Son Jesus,
the child of Mary,
to the care of Joseph, an earthly father.
Bless all fathers
as they care for their families.
Give them strength and wisdom,
tenderness and patience;
support them in the work they have to do,
protecting those who look to them,
as we look to you for love and salvation,
through Jesus Christ our rock and defender. Amen
Ideas for a service of the word, special collects and readings and other resource material to help celebrate Fathers' Day can be found on the Church of England website here. By the way, the C of E is unsure where to place the apostrophe in Fathers' Day!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Birthday

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams celebrates his 60th birthday today, 14 June. As a diocese in the province of Canterbury, we pray for him regularly, of course. I know that he holds the Diocese in Europe in his own prayers, and we are thankful to have a Metropolitan who knows and understands our particular needs in Europe.

Criticism of his leadership continues from many in the Church in England and beyond. These days, more than ever, Archbishop Rowan needs our prayerful support.
Almighty God, giver of all good things,
Who by Thy Holy Spirit hast appointed divers orders of ministers in Thy Church:
Mercifully behold Thy servant Rowan enthroned into the high office and dignity of Archbishop and Metropolitan of this Province;
and replenish him so with the truth of Thy doctrine,
and adorn him with innocency of life,
That both by word and deed he may faithfully serve Thee in this office,
to the glory of Thy Name,
and the edifying and well governing of Thy Church;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Revd Charlie Newcombe: New Assistant in Tervuren

The Reverend J.C.D. ‘Charlie’ Newcombe, began work as Assistant Chaplain at the Anglican Church of St Paul, Tervuren (near Brussels), Belgium, on 6 June 2010. Charlie comes to this diocese from Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon, where he was Assistant Curate. He studied geology then worked for 5 years in Christian youth work before training for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. We welcome Charlie to the Diocese in Europe!

St Paul's Tervuren website is here.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter: A European Consequence

In his Pentecost letter, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned of certain consequences for provinces of the Anglican Communion which have failed to stand by the three moratoria. (No authorisation of blessings services for same-sex unions; no consecrations of bishops living in same-sex relationships; and no bishop authorising any ministry within the diocese of another bishop without explicit permission). One consequence would be that representatives from such provinces would not be able to participate in the formal international interchurch dialogues of the Communion.

One of those dialogues is the Anglican-Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council (AOCICC), the official instrument set up to deepen the relationship of communion established in 1931 between the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht. As the member Churches of the Union of Utrecht are all European, the AOCICC is effectively a European body. (I am one of the members, appointed by the Anglican Consultative Council as is Mrs Marion Jägers, who is also from our Diocese in Europe). The Revd Carola Von Wrangel (above left), the Rector of the (American) Parish of Christ the King, Frankfurt, has represented the Episcopal Church, one of the provinces which has not observed the moratoria. A few days ago, Carola wrote to the members of AOCICC to inform us that she has "been removed from participation in the AOCICC by the office of the Anglican Communion because of the recent developments in the Communion, and the Archbishop´s Pentecost letter".

Sadly, the consequences of the Episcopal Church's actions are now felt directly here in Europe. We will miss Carola's contribution to our official dialogue with the Old Catholic Churches.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

American High School Graduation in Stuttgart



Close links have been built up over the past couple of years between our parish of St Catherine, Stuttgart, and Patch Barracks, the home of US European Command (EUCOM) and headquarters for the US armed forces in Europe. (The barracks are named after General Alexander McCarrell "Sandy" Patch, who commanded the US Seventh Army which crossed the Rhine into Germany in WWII). Many of the personnel and their families are members and active supporters of St Catherine's. It helps that our priest-in-charge of St Catherine's, the Revd Ken Dimmick (above right), is himself from the USA and has some military experience. About 20,000 US military personnel and their families are associated with Patch.

Last Sunday afternoon I had the joy of preaching at a "Baccalaureate Service" for the graduating class of 2010 from the American High School on the base. The service was organised by one of the members of St Catherine's, Mrs Barbara Crandall, whose own family are part of the Patch community. Because of the US policy of separation of Church and State, a religious service associated with high school graduation on a military base is highly unusual. Barb started the tradition just three years ago, and the interest and attendance among students and their families has grown.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Finland elects its first woman bishop


Today the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has elected its first woman bishop. The Revd Irja Askola is to be the new bishop of Helsinki in succession to the Rt Revd Dr Eero Huovinen who is retiring at the beginning of September, having been in post since 1991.

Bishop-elect Askola won out over her rival candidate, Helsinki Cathedral Dean Matti Poutiainen. The voting was close, 591 to 567. The consecration will take place in Helsinki Cathedral on Sunday 12 September.

Pastor Askola was ordained in 1988. She has extensive ecumenical experience having worked for 8 years at the Conference of European Churches, based in Geneva. She is presently the theological advisor to Bishop Mikko Heikka of Espoo.

About 4.3 million people, over 80% of the population of the country, are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. There are 9 dioceses, 8 are geographical and the 9th non-geographical, serving the Swedish speaking minority in the country. 38% of the priests are women.

The Church of England is in communion with the Church of Finland through the Porvoo Agreement. Our congregation of St Nicholas in Helsinki enjoys close cooperation with the Diocese of Helsinki and receives support in many ways from the sister Church. St Nicholas' Chaplaincy is served by Fr Rupert Moreton, chaplain, and the Revd Deacon Tuomas Mäkipää, assistant curate. (I will be ordaining Tuomas to the priesthood on 3 July, in Crete).

The English language website of the Church of Finland is here. The Anglican Church of Finland has a website here.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Some Ministry Statistics


The most recent statistics for ministry in the Church of England are those for the end of 2008. They point to a healthy situation with regards to vocations and ministry in our Church.

For instance, there were about 12,000 licensed clergy and almost 8,000 readers and Church Army officers. In addition there were almost 1,600 chaplains to prisons, hospitals, the armed forces and in education, and around 7,120 retired clergy and readers with permission to officiate.

In 2008 the Church of England recommended 490 persons for ordination training. 574 (274 women and 300 men) were ordained in 2008, the highest number since the year 2000. (In the entire Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, there were 6 ordinations in the same year).

The generally healthy state extends to our own Diocese in Europe where we have 152 licensed priests and deacons and 98 active readers who serve our 270 congregations. 28 of the clergy are women. We are supporting 39 men and women in various stages of vocational discernment or training for ordained ministry and 37 men and women are in academic training to be readers (lay ministers).