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.



Sunday, 27 September 2015

Archdeacon Patrick Curran steps down as Archdeacon of the East

Fr Patrick and Lucille Curran

The Synod of the Archdeaconry of the East was held in Zabreb, Croatia, at the end of last week. Clergy and lay representatives come together from what is geographically the most extensive archdeaconry in the diocese, covering central Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, the Caucasus and all of Russia.

It is a tradition at this synod for members to bring an item from their own country or area to be auctioned to other members, with the proceeds going to a designated project. (There are usually some tempting items on the auction block - I bid for and won a very good bottle of Ouzo, one year, I recall).

After the traditional auction that ends the Synod of the Eastern Archdeaconry, Archdeacon Patrick Curran was presented with an icon of St Cyril and St Methodius as an expression of thanks from the congregations of the Archdeaconry for his long and dedicated service to them. Fr Patrick has been Archdeacon of this area for longer than I have been a bishop in this diocese, and was key to my own orientation back in 2002!

The icon is a fitting gift for Fr Patrick, given the area he has served as Archdeacon. St Cyril and St Methodius were brothers in the 9th century, from Thessalonica. Although Byzantine Greeks, it is clear that they also learned the tongue of the neighbouring Slavs, they translated much of the scriptures and the liturgy into what is now called Slavonic and evangelised many of the Slavic peoples of Europe. They are venerated by the Churches of the East and the West (in the Church of England, their Feast Day is 14 February). During Archdeacon Patrick's, new congregations were established, or dormant congregations revitalised, in Turkey, Armenia, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Poland and Crete. He leaves a legacy of a united and enthusiastic Archdeaconry, despite the challenges of geography and scant resources.

Father Patrick continues as Chaplain of Christ Church Vienna, but now steps down as Archdeacon of the East, and hands over this responsibility to Archdeacon Colin Williams. Archdeacon Patrick also received a framed map of Europe as a thank you from the Diocese.

 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Refugee crisis: some progress in the EU and some longer term plans emerging from the Anglican Alliance

Refugees seeking to cross from Greece to FYRO Macedonia
Some progress appears to have been made yesterday by EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels to address some aspects of the current refugee crisis. Nevertheless EU nations are far from united in their approach. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania voted against yesterday's proposals. The UK, while pledging further aid to assist agencies working with refugees in the camps in Turkey and the Middle East, has opted out of the plan to share in a relocation quota of refugees currently in Europe. But at least at the EU level some steps in the right direction have been agreed.

It is not a time to be complacent however. The agreement to distribute 120,000 refugees currently in Europe is vital (and to the shame of the UK we are not participating in this), but with up to 6000 arriving each day in Europe, mainly into Greece, in theory in as little as 20 days time there could be another 120,000 needing urgent relocation.

The proposals agreed yesterday in Brussels also aim to strengthen the control of EU borders. However we should not be blinded to the possibility that this may increase the activity of criminals engaged in the smuggling of asylum seekers. When I was with the CTBI (Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) delegation to Greece last week, a constant message we received from international agencies such as UNHCR, as well as from volunteers, local government and the refugees themselves, was that criminal smugglers will find new ways (and perhaps even more dangerous ways) to move people into Europe, extorting huge amounts of money from the asylum seekers for their services. So, if borders are to be tightened, safe, legal pathways into Europe for those who are fleeing for their safety and lives is also needed, else we will witness more criminal exploitation and tragic deaths. A priority must be the safety, dignity and human rights of those who are fleeing or who have fled conflict zones.

Bishop Angaelos, Moderator of CTBI, with UNCHR workers at the Greek-FYRO Macedonian border

Ms Cecilia Taylor-Camara, Secretary for Migration for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, with Afghan refugees in Athens
But here is some news of progress among the Churches' response:
The Anglican Alliance, the organisation based at the Anglican Communion Office which brings together those Churches and Church agencies of the Communion to work together on issues of justice, international aid and development, met earlier this week in Cardiff to review the situation in Europe. Our own Senior Chaplain in Athens, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw brought news of the situation in Greece. Us (formerly USPG) was in attendance at the meeting also. Us is the Church agency which is collaborating with the Diocese in Europe in our own response to the refugee crisis. (See http://www.weareus.org.uk/news/europe/).

I am pleased to report that at the meeting the Anglican Alliance and Us at the meeting mapped out preliminary plans to enhance our capacity to coordinate, prioritise, respond effectively and monitor the fast changing situation. The partners at the meeting are aware that although this is an acute crisis at present the refugee movement is likely to be a long-term issue. I am grateful for the collaboration we have with Us and for the coordination that Anglican Alliance is seeking to promote.

Rachel Carnegie and Isobel Owen from the Anglican Alliance flank Malcolm Bradshaw. Jill Rios from the Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre in Rome on right 


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A thank you from the Archdiocese of Athens for help with their feeding programme

Archbishop Rowan Williams with Dr Constantine Dimtsas. Fr Malcolm Bradshaw to the right
The situation in Greece which preoccupied us until the focus moved recently to the refugee crisis was the hardship that so many of the population were facing as a result of the imposed austerity measures. People across the diocese will remember that our 2015 Lent Appeal raised funds to assist with these needs, via the partnership between St Paul's Athens (the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw) and Apostoli, the philanthropic organization of the Archdiocese of Athens.

A letter of appreciation has been received for our diocese's gift of £13,571.91 from the Lent appeal. Here are extracts from that letter sent by Dr Constantine Dimtsas, the Director General of Apostoli.

First of all, I wish to thank you for sending us this important donation through our local Anglican friends and fellow partners, Fr Malcolm Bradshaw and his Parish in Athens. With your precious contribution you  have demonstrated your acknowledgement of and appreciation to our work of providing material and moral assistance to some of the most vulnerable segments of our society, bewildered  by the lingering economic crisis that has befallen our country since 2010. 
The amount will be allocated to our action-programme "The Church Supports the  Large Families," which provides material support for large, multi-child families in the form of foodstuff parcels to be distributed to them once a month. Please note that this programme is one of the most important and most vital actions of Apostoli since large, multi-child families are severely hit by the crisis and these children are very vulnerable to the consequences of the crisis. No discrimination whatsoever is done as to the origin or the creed of the recipient family and  our assistance  is provided on the basis of demonstrated and certified need via a thorough process of checking.
Therefore, on behalf of more than 1.300 multi-child families who thankfully benefit from our programme-action, please accept my prayerful and cordial thanks for your diocese's precious support. Your generosity and love, combined with that of other Anglican parishes and Anglican individuals across Europe, enables our organization to distribute critical material assistance to help large multi-child families in order to meet their basic day-to-day needs. For this, we offer abundant thanks. May our gracious God bless you and your loving diocese and people.
Taking this opportunity please let me add this: In these critical times for Europe and the Christian Churches of this Continent your continuing support is a wonderful and moving example of Christian solidarity and love.



Friday, 18 September 2015

How can we put Matthew 25 into action across Europe?

The border crossing, Greece to FYRO Macedonia
'How can we put Matthew 25 into action across Europe?' This was the question that the delegation from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) discussed in a meeting with partners from the Greek Orthodox Church, Evangelical Churches, the UNHCR and the Anglican Chaplaincy. 'The church is the world's biggest NGO; and the preservation of human dignity for the refugees our common denominator', was one of the affirmations that underlined the strong role for the Churches in the midst of this crisis. 'We need to go back to our roots; if we are not caring for and loving our brothers and sisters, what is the point?'

Archimandrite Ignatios of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece
A powerful unity emerged during the meeting and a shared vision of working together to preserve human dignity and save lives. A future partnership is being forged dedicated to the spiritual and moral shared duties of protecting God given human rights.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland meet with UK Ambassador to Greece

Ambassador John Kittmer (2nd from right)
'I am shocked by the lack of interest from the UK. You are the first official group to visit Greece to learn more about the refugee crisis', said HE John Kittmer, the UK Ambassador to Greece.

The ambassador hosted a meeting on 15 September with delegates from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). He had just returned from the Greek islands where he witnessed the huge challenges facing Greece as about 5000 refugees arrive on these islands from Turkey each day. Yet the ambassador noted how the issue continues to be largely ignored and misreported despite this flow of refugees being the biggest crisis to hit Europe since the end of World War II. 

CTBI General Secretary Bob Fyffe (left)
CTBI is hearing a strong plea from those working on the ground in Greece to take a prophetic stand on the refugee issue. As the crisis grows in magnitude, CTBI will look closely at how to take bold action on behalf of the churches.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland delegation to Greece




On Tuesday our Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) delegation visited Eidomeni on the Greek/ FYRO Macedonian border.

We were the first group of UK clergy and lay leaders to see for themselves the impact of the refugee crisis in Greece.


'We saw incredible desperation in refugees who will take death boats as a means of escape from what is obviously a dire situation. But we also saw incredible dedication from those who serve them; many of whom are volunteers', said Bishop Angaleos, the Moderator of CTBI and General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. 


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Refugees crossing from Greece to FYRO Macedonia

So many moving encounters on the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I'm here with a delegation from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.  "Close the borders and you put refugees into the hands of mafia and smugglers" was the clear message we heard from UN workers, local politicians, volunteers, and the local police. A stern warning given what is taking place in Europe now.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Canon Barbara Moss passes the baton as Nordic/Baltic Area Dean to the Revd Nick Howe


The Nordic and Baltic Deanery of the Diocese in Europe covers 7 countries in the northernmost part of Europe. Lay and clergy delegates from our congregations in these countries (except for our reps from St Thorlak's. Reykjavik who sent regrets) gathered in Helsinki for their annual deanery synod to discuss business and to engage in some education on issues facing the Church.


A former member of the synod, the Revd Dr Mika Pajunen, who was the assistant curate at St Nicholas's Helsinki and who is now the Theological Secretary to the Archbishop of Turku, was given a warm welcome back as he came to give a presentation on paradigm shifts in the Church's history, as a way to help us understand how contemporary issues may be causing some division among Christians.

Synod members thank Dr Pajunen for his presentation
It was the last synod for Area Dean the Revd Canon Barbara Moss. Canon Moss retires from St Andrew's Gothenburg at the end of this year, but at this synod she handed over the work of Area Dean to her successor the Revd Nick Howe. The synod paid tribute to Barbara, who then responded with a song which conveyed her own affection for us in a very warm and humorous way.

The Revd Canon Barbara Moss
Canon Moss's farewell song to the synod
I commissioned Fr Nick Howe as Area Dean, who promptly took over the chairing of the remaining sessions.

New Area Dean Nick Howe with the Synod Secretary Pauline Bang 
The synodical life of this diocese are important gatherings, essential, of course, for the business of the Church to be transacted, and for a scattered Church to come together to show our unity in worship and to enable the clergy and lay leaders to engage in some study together, But also important is the chance to relax and enjoy each other's company. It is vitally important in maintaining a sense of belonging together even though scattered over thousands of kilometres.


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Helsinki's Bishop Askola reports on trends in Church and society to the Nordic Baltic Deanery Synod

Bishop Irja Askola with Archdeacon-designate Colin Williams to her right
The Bishop of Helsinki, Irja Askola, visited the recent synod of the Nordic and Baltic deanery at its meeting in Helsinki last week. She was welcomed warmly as our local "Porvoo Bishop". She reflected with us on what has now been 5 years in the episcopal office. Bishop Irja was the first woman to be made a bishop in the Church of Finland, and is still the only woman bishop in that Church.

Bishop Irja spoke of trends in her Church. In the Helsinki area the Church is facing a decreasing membership. "Only every other baby born in Helsinki is now brought to baptism", she reported. Confirmation camps are still well attended but there appears to be a failure on the part of the Church to retain these young people within the active life of the Church. One of the challenges the Finnish Church is facing is moving from an emphasis on organisational life to developing more of a community life, engaging with people's questions more, and opening up to exploring new ideas.

Bishop Irja also spoke of trends in the country itself. There is a worrying growth in negative attitudes to refugees. There have been growing numbers of incidents of violence against them, particularly since the national elections last April when a centrist government lost to a more right-wing coalition. Also of concern is the new government's cuts in overseas development aid. As a result, Finn Church Aid, the development arm of the Finnish Church which receives government funding for its overseas work, is being forced to close down entirely its operations in five countries and reduce its support to many others, cutting out assistance to nearly 1/2 million people who received direct aid from the Church agency.

Incidentally, Bishop Irja knows our new Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe well as they both have worked for the Conference of European Churches.

Bishop Askola at her consecration 5 years ago

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Colin Williams receives a general priest's licence and begins his work in the Diocese in Europe

Archdeacon Designate Colin Williams
During the Nordic and Baltic Deanery Synod held from 4 - 6 September in Helsinki, I was able to grant a general licence as a priest in the Diocese to the Archdeacon-Designate of Germany and Northern Europe, Colin Williams. This is the first stage of Fr Colin's entry into his ministry among us. He will, over the next few weeks, also receive a commission as Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe as well as a commission as Archdeacon of the East. The clergy and lay delegates to the Nordic and Baltic synod were pleased to have a chance to get to know their new Archdeacon. 

L to R: Fr Tuomas Mäkipää, Bishop Jāna Jēruma-Grīnberga, and Fr Colin Williams
It was fitting that Fr Colin's first official act in this diocese was to preside at the Eucharist for the Nordic Baltic Deanery in the Orthodox Chapel of the Sofia Centre in Helsinki where we were meeting. He was assisted by Fr Tuomas Mäkipää, the Chaplain of St Nicholas's Helsinki and Bishop Jāna Jēruma-Grīnberga, who on her retirement as Bishop of the Lutheran Church in the UK became the priest-in-charge of St Saviour's, Riga, Latvia, an appointment made possible under the Porvoo Agreement.


Archdeacon Peter Potter
The Synod members also had a chance to thank warmly the Venerable Peter Potter, Archdeacon of Switzerland, who has been Acting Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe during the vacancy. It has been a busy time for Fr Peter, with a much wider patch to cover than his own Switzerland, but he has enjoyed getting to know another part of the diocese in a closer way. We have certainly appreciated Fr Peter's additional work over the past year and a half.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Anglican Agency Us launches a Rapid Response Fund to assist the Diocese's outreach to refugees

Refugees in Budapest: Photo Credit: Daniel Fekete/ Hungarian Interchurch Aid / ACT Alliance / WCC
Thanks to the Anglican mission agency Us (formerly USPG), a way for individuals and churches to respond to the refugee crisis in continental Europe has opened up via the agency's Rapid Response Fund.

Us has issued an appeal for donations to fund the Diocese in Europe as it reaches out to refugees arriving throughout the continent. A statement on the Us website reads:

"The Diocese in Europe is working on the frontline with refugees, and has asked Us to be the official agency for Anglican churches in Britain and Ireland to channel donations for its work; and we can receive donations from any country.
Your donations to our Rapid Response Fund will help the diocese to provide emergency medical support, food, shelter and pastoral care for refugees.
Initially, there will be a particular focus on the situation in Greece and Hungary.
Bishop David Hamid writes: 'Thank you so much for your support at this critical time. ‘Due to staffing limitations in our diocesan office, it would be best if Us could collect the funds and transfer consolidated funds to the diocese for use in Greece, Hungary and where there is need. We have an efficient process agreed that will help our partners working on the ground.’
Please make a donation to our Rapid Response Fund today. Your donations will be focused on Greece and Hungary.
One estimate states that 160,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
The need for healthcare is particularly acute. Many refugees, including the elderly and children, are arriving in need of urgent medical care, but Greece's overstretched public resources, and a lack of medicines in the country, mean many refugees are going untreated. Your donations will help.
In Hungary, volunteers from church and community have been distributing aid packages. At the weekend (5 Sep), members of St Margaret's Anglican Church in Budapest gave packages to refugees at Keleti International Train Station. The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs said: 'The refugees appeared well dressed and groomed, though also obviously exhausted from their journey. The language barrier was sadly formidable, but there was absolutely no sign of violence or disturbance.'
Us Chief Executive Janette O'Neill said: 'We are so pleased to offer our services to mobilise a response, supporting our sisters and brothers of the Diocese in Europe.
'They are meeting refugees on Europe’s frontline with both compassion and much needed tangible support.
'We want to play our part in helping equip them with the essentials that will signal to the refugees that their journey has turned a corner and safety and respite from war in sight.'
Please make a donation to our Rapid Response Fund today."

I am very grateful to Janette O'Neill and her staff at Us who have worked closely with the diocese to enable this rapid response channel. Us is a church-based charity working in direct partnership with Anglican Churches around the world. Founded in 1701, for over 300 years it has been sharing God’s love through practical action, and seeing lives transformed. Much of the early work of this diocese was begun by the Us which has been known in the past as USPG or SPG.

The Us website is here.


These prayers for the refugees are on the Us website:

Lord God of wilderness, wave and wind,
you travel with the wanderers of the world.
Stay close, we pray, to all who live
with loss, in terror, and adrift,
and spur us on to build a world
where there is truly room for all.

Lord Jesus, you came among us
homeless, and as a refugee.
Shake our complacency,
rekindle our compassion,
and help us challenge our leaders
to forge a common strategy
that is both truly just, and fair.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Syrian Orthodox in Tur Abdin, Turkey

I recently had the privilege of spending some days in the Tur Abdin region of south east Turkey. I was the guest of Archbishop Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas in the monastery of Mor Gabriel. Mor Timotheos is the abbot of the monastery and the Metropolitan of Tur Abdin. The region borders with Syria and Iraq.

Mor Gabriel is the oldest monastery of the Syrian Orthodox Church. It was founded in 397; according to some historians, perhaps even earlier. The Tur Abdin is the historic heartland of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Its Patriarch lived there until 1932 when he moved his seat to Damascus. Today, there are very few Syrian Christians left in the region, perhaps less than 4000, as so many have moved to other countries to escape discrimination, persecution and violence. There is much anxiety among the remaining Christians in the area, due to the growing unrest and increase in violent incidents between Turkish authorities and the Kurdish minority in this part of the country. Tur Abdin Christians were frequently in the cross-fire in times of past conflicts.

Mor Timotheos Aktas

In addition, at the present time the Syrian Christian community in Turkey cannot forget that across the border in areas of Iraq and Syria under ISIS control, the Christian population is facing severe persecution. A good friend of mine, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, and his Greek Orthodox brother Metropolitan of Aleppo, Boulos Yazii, were abducted on 22 April 2013 and there have no clues to their whereabouts. No-one knows if they are even alive.

Metropolitan Yazii and Metropolitan Ibrahim

In the meantime, Christian families in the villages in Tur Abdin send their children to spend time in the monastery which has a school to teach Syriac language, history, culture and liturgy, to keep their traditions alive. Syriac, the language of the people, is essentially Aramaic, the language of Jesus. It is moving to worship with this community, to hear the voices of the boys choir singing the hymns in Syriac at the services which begin with Mattins each day at 5.30 am.

This brave and resilient community, our sisters and brothers in Christ, have borne witness to their faith for centuries. There are 12,000 martyrs from across the centuries buried in Mor Gabriel.

 

 

Christ Church Vienna responds to refugee arrivals

 

As refugees make their way across Europe our parishes along the way are on hand to give support and assistance. By know many readers of this blog will know of Anglicans in Athens and Budapest who are responding to the crisis. Also last Saturday in Vienna, members of Christ Church, our Church of England congregation there headed to the Meanwhile, on Saturday in Vienna many people headed to the Westbahnhof in the city to help the refugees coming over from Hungary by taking food and clothing or by giving families a place to shower and have a rest before the next leg of their journey.

Christ Church has been collecting money to support the work of Diakonie in Traiskirchen (a local Church charity) as well as supporting the Anglican Chaplaincy relief work in Athens.

The Venerable Patrick Curran is the chaplain of Christ Church (and currently Archdeacon of the East). The Revd Mike Waltner is the assistant curate.

 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Archbishop of Sudan in St Nicholas's, Helsinki

A special guest at St Nicholas's Helsinki made a service of confirmation extra memorable on Sunday 6 September. Already the congregation welcomed members of the Nordic and Baltic Deanery Synod, which had just finished their annual meeting, along with their new Archdeacon Colin Williams. But in addition we welcomed to our celebration the Most Revd Ezekiel Kondo, the Archbishop of Sudan within the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan and the Bishop of Khartoum.

Archbishop Kondo was starting an ecumenical visit to Finland, where there are many Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees, including many members of our own Helsinki and White Nile Congregations. In his greetings to us, His Grace asked particularly for our prayers for the regions of the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile, and Darfur where peace with justice is desperately needed.

Four young persons were confirmed at the service. Archbishop Kondo gave them a blessing in Arabic, the official language of his diocese.

Incidentally, the usual parish lunch which normally follows such services had to be cancelled, as 60 refugees, mostly from Iraq, were being given temporary shelter in the basement of the church. Reception centres for asylum seekers are full in the Finnish capital. The lunch was to have been held in the basement. Instead, St Nicholas's parishioners donated the food to the refugees.

 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Budapest Anglicans mobilise to help refugees

Today, 7 September, I received the report below from the Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs, the Priest-in-Charge of St Margaret's, Budapest, and Area Dean in the Archdeaconry of the East. It is a moving story of yet another of our parishes of the Diocese in Europe mobilising to help refugees in their countries.

_____________________________________________________________

Moved by the plight of thousands of refugees traversing Hungary, members of Saint Margaret’s Anglican Episcopal Church in Budapest, Hungary – along with many friends of the parish -- gathered on Saturday, 5 September, to prepare aid-packets to be distributed among the refugees at the Keleti International Train Station. "There were about twenty-five to thirty of us in all," reports Fr Frank. "Everyone was enthusiastic and eager to help."

After prayer together and trips to local shops and stores to gather appropriate provisions, the volunteers put together approximately one hundred and thirty packets, or bags, containing fruit, nutrition bars, water, toiletries, and hygiene items, among much else. A smaller group of Saint Margaret volunteers is pictured above, hard at work. "We felt that such simple things could make the biggest difference in the short term," continues Father Frank, "although we also knew that much more would need to be done over the coming days and weeks."

A member of Saint Margaret’s with extensive orchards in western Hungary also donated four hundred kilos of the autumn apple harvest to the effort. "I was happy to help," observes orchard owner and Saint Margaret’s Council member, Arthur Reynolds. When the aid packets were prepared and ready to go, the team then headed over to Keleti station, a short distance from the church, to distribute the items.

Keleti is not unlike any major train station in Europe – always bustling. On this occasion, the plaza in front of the station – as well as the modern underground transportation level – was filled with arriving refugees, mainly from Syria but also Afghanistan and other lands. In the photo above, an energetic group of children in the station entertain Father Frank.

The refugees appeared well dressed and groomed, though also obviously exhausted from their journey. Several reported being Christian. The language barrier was sadly formidable, but there was absolutely no sign of violence or disturbance anywhere. Police presence was minimal and respectful. The Saint Margaret’s team targeted mainly the many family groups in the distribution of their packets. Children and young families were everywhere.

The volunteer team from Saint Margaret’s was by no means alone in its efforts. "The massive outpouring of generosity on the part of everyday Hungarians was wonderful to behold," notes Saint Margaret’s Churchwarden, Julia Lengyel. Father Frank agrees. "This part of the story has been underreported in the media. In some areas of the station there were nearly as many local volunteers as refugees."

There are many fine charities which will be doing their best to assist the refugees now and in the days ahead. Indeed, it sometimes seems after an issue has left the front pages that the need becomes greatest. If friends near and far would like to make a contribution to ongoing efforts on behalf of the refugees, Saint Margaret’s will be happy to serve as conduit for their donations.

Donations may be made by means of bank transfer to the Saint Margaret’s account given below. Please be sure to indicate that the donation is "For the Refugees". The Saint Margaret’s Chaplaincy Council will allocate the funds to local charities over the coming days and weeks.

Unicredit BankSzámlatulajdonos: Szent Margit Anglikán EgyházSzámlaszám:10918001-00000006-35610003Iban:HU73 1091 80010000 0006 3561 0003Swift: BACXHUHB
Paper cheques may be posted to:Szent Margit Anglikán Egyház1077 BudapestAlmássy utca 6Hungary

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

St Margaret's Budapest: parishioners respond to refugee crisis in Hungary

Refugees in Budapest
The refugee and migrant crisis deepens as people continue to flee war-torn lands seeking safety and security in European lands. In recent days, the spotlight has been on Hungary where many refugees have arrived after travelling through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia.

The Revd Dr Frank Hegedus, the priest-in-charge of St Margaret's Anglican-Episcopal parish in Budapest, has written to his parishioners and friends of the parish, to indicate how St Margaret's community is doing its part to assist in the current crisis. In his communication Fr Frank writes of one of the members of St Margaret's who grows apples for a living, who is donating some of his harvest for distribution to the refugees. The parish will be collecting additional donations for distribution, pre-packaged food, and personal hygiene products and bottled water, particularly.

Fr Frank with parishioners of St Margaret's
St Margaret's is collaborating with Migration Aid, a volunteer civil initiative which has been established to help refugees arriving in Hungary. Volunteers with this agency help in meeting refugees, giving them food, drink and information about their onward journey.

Migration Aid cannot accept money directly. However, they are able to accept donations through the bank account of Mikszáth Pharmacy bank account (Egészségért Foundation). This pharmacy has been supporting their work with pharmaceutical supplies. (Though refugees are entitled for free basic health care services, they need to pay for medicines, and first aid products).

Here are account details if you wish to make a donation to this work of Migration Aid in Hungary:

  Beneficiary name: Mikszáth Gyógyszertár az Egészségért Alapítvány
  Comment: Migration Aid
  Bank account number: 10918001-00000067-39140008
  Name of the bank: UniCredit Bank Hungary
  Address of the bank: 1054 Budapest, Szabadság tér 5-6., Hungary
  IBAN: HU69 1091 8001 0000 0067 3914 0008
  SWIFT: BACXHUHB

If you send a donation, please send an e-mail to adomany@migrationaid.net with the amount you have given, so that the agency can also keep track of the donations.


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Ecumenical links enable a swift response to stranded refugees

Farmaconisi
Ecumenical partnership can result swift action in the midst of the current refugee crisis. Here is an example from Greece:

Last Saturday afternoon at 2.45 pm, I received an email from my good friend and ecumenical colleague, Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK. A person contacted the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage, England, to inform them that over 500 people from Syria were stranded on the island of Farmakonisi, Greece. Farmakonisi is a small uninhabited island, about 1 1/2 square miles in area, off the Turkish coast.  Bishop Angaelos was in Frankfurt; I was in Ankara.

Bishop Angaelos
2 hours later I managed to alert our Senior Chaplain in Athens, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, who has been central to inter-church efforts in addressing the needs of arriving refugees in Greece.

By 9 pm that night, Fr Malcolm had been in touch with partners in the neighbouring island of Leros. Contact was made with the Syrian refugees on Farmakonisi, and about 200 of them, women and children mostly, were shuttled over to Leros, and supplies of food and water left on the island for the rest, who themselves were taken to Leros the next day.

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw
It is hard to conceive of any agency enabling such a swift response in such a crisis, but the Churches, through our ecumenical links and partnerships, delivered.