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to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.


For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.



Saturday, 31 October 2015

Reception Centre to support refugees at remote lighthouse on Lesvos.


I am very pleased to report on Eurobishop this significant project outlined below. I take this from the website of Us, the mission agency with whom we have been working in recent months, with regard to the refugee crisis. The actual Us material is on their website here.

I cannot speak highly enough of this partnership with Us which has been vital in enabling our Church to respond to the crisis, particularly in Greece.
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The Diocese in Europe and the Anglican mission agency Us (formerly USPG) are to give funding to an emergency centre for refugees at the remote Pharos Lighthouse on the Greek island of Lesvos.

The refugees arrive cold and wet having crossed 15 kilometres from Turkey, typically making the journey in small rubber boats crowded with up to 50 people in each. Many make this dangerous crossing at night to avoid the Turkish coastguards that patrol during the day. They come mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan having fled conflict, chaos and persecution in those countries.

Attracted by the lighthouse beam, the refugees that land on the rocky shore are soaked through, tired and hungry. Yet they are still six kilometres from the nearest village, Klio, which is a minimum six-hour walk across often-difficult terrain. It is therefore essential for the health of the refugees that they have dry clothes, food and, in many cases, medical care and shelter before they continue their journey to safety, preferably with a volunteer to act as a guide.

A dedicated team of local volunteers have been doing what they can to help the refugees. Now the work is to be given a further boost with funding from Us and support from the Anglican chaplaincy in Greece.



Relief work is 'critical and well-targeted'

Refugee expert Max McClellan, who is working with Us and the Diocese in Europe, said: ‘The work of the lighthouse team is critical and well-targeted. They operate along a large stretch of rocky coastline, typically at night, receiving the refugees in boats. But, given the current level of arrivals, they are looking to expand their operation as quickly as possible. It is clear that the situation on Lesvos is much more chaotic than we have been led to believe.’ He added: ‘Large organisations and agencies rely on the goodwill of volunteers for much of the ground-work, particularly at the points of first reception at the shore.’

Two abandoned buildings next to the lighthouse will be renovated and converted into a clothes-changing area and a field kitchen. There will also be tents to provide shelter for refugees and volunteers. Volunteers will begin working at the centre round the clock, seven days a week.

As well as providing refugees with food, clothing and medicines, volunteers will be supplied with ropes to help refugees climb up the rocky shores, and safety helmets and headgear for children and babies. There is also a need for wetsuits, night vision binoculars, heaters, lighting and walky-talkies.

Bishop David Hamid, of the Diocese in Europe, said: ‘I am deeply grateful for our partnership with Us in this project, which in many ways is reviving a historic link between Us and our European churches. The Anglican Church in Greece is joining hands with Us to serve those who are fleeing wars and persecution, and who risk their lives in desperation to reach Europe in what many have called “the death boats”. ‘This project places our church on the frontline where so many have already died through drowning, and seeks to bring a level of human dignity to our brothers and sisters who are seeking refuge and safety.’

Rachel Parry, Us Director for Global Relations, said: ‘This initiative is a small but highly significant response that is benefitting hundreds of very vulnerable refugees at a critical stage of their journey. It is just one example of how we are working in partnership with the Anglican chaplaincy in Athens to reach out to refugees.’

You can support this work by making a donation to the Us Advent Appeal.



Thursday, 29 October 2015

The young, the not-quite-so-young, and the bold in our growing parish of Holy Spirit, Costa Blanca

The parish of the Holy Spirit Costa Blanca comprises 8 worship centres on this part of the Spanish Coast. It is one of our parishes where the majority are people from the UK who have settled for retirement, and sometimes for work. The Senior Chaplain, Fr Marcus Ronchetti, reports that newcomers continue to be attracted to the Church, and the potential for further growth is great.

In terms of Church growth, he teaches his people that "it is not about hustling people, or ramming religion or the Bible down their throats; it is about creating opportunities where natural discussion can be about things to do with faith, which can lead to an appropriate invitation". He holds before his people an impressive list of opportunities and ways that can help them reach out to enable others to explore faith.

But as well as integrating newcomers, the Church community honours those who have a long history among them, and two special birthdays of parishioners were recently marked in one of the congregations in the Ermita Church, Javea.

Nona Hale
Peggy Skipwith reached 100 years, with Nona Hale following closely behind with an impressive 95. In true Spanish style, both occasions were celebrated with a cava reception after the 9.45 am service.

One of the younger members of the parish, just 10 years old, presented Peggy, who is 10 times yer age, with a 100 badge. We join the church members in send their best wishes to these women on these significant occasions.


Meanwhile, I heard a rumour that Fr Marcus and his wife Sandra recently threw themselves out of an aeroplane (with a parachute) to raise funds for the chaplaincy. I am not sure that this was in Fr Marcus's terms and conditions when he signed on as parish priest, but well done to you both!



Holy Spirit, Costa Blanca's website is here.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Historic Bible restored for use in St John's Casablanca


A recent Sunday Eucharist in St John the Evangelist, Casablanca, provided a chance to use one of the historical treasures of the Church. It is the original Bible given for use in the parish over 100 years ago.

The remarkable thing about this Bible is that it was nearly destroyed when the Church was overrun and ransacked in 1907, during a rather sombre chapter in the country's history when the French were consolidating their colonial rule. It has been carefully restored and was presented to me for use by the Churchwardens, Angie and John.

It was a weighty volume for the server to carry for the Gospel procession!


St John's is home to English-speaking Christians from many foreign countries around the world. The growth in congregational life in recent years has meant that the Church Council is now looking at how to redevelop their historic property to meet the needs of the future.


The patio and gardens surrounding the Church are a peaceful oasis in the midst of this bustling city, and are much enjoyed by parishioners, young and old.


 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Ministry Team Residential


The Ministry Team of the Diocese comprises the Director of Ordinands, the Director of Training, the Senior Tutor for Reader Ministry, the Administrator, Deacon Frances and the two bishops. We are ably assisted by a wider group of Assistant Directors of Ordinands/Reader Selectors and Vocations Advisors scattered across the diocese.

Through the work of this team vocations to lay and ordained ministry, counting approximately 60 persons at any given time, in many stages of discernment, education and formation, are supported and supervised.

The core team itself held a 24 hour residential meeting in the shadow of Chichester Cathedral to review the ongoing work and to reflect on wider matters pertaining to vocations and training, using some case studies from our own diocese as well as input from another Anglican Province. Some time was also spent in studying the Pilgrim Course, a Church of England discipleship and lay catechesis programme, which we will shortly be recommending to the congregations.


Following the residential some of us made a visit to a dear friend and former member of the team, none other than Bishop Geoffrey, who now lives just outside Chichester. His lovely house is, as one would expect, filled with books as well as art and artefacts from his many global travels. But prominent is the icon which was written especially for him, as his retirement gift from the people of the Diocese.



Monday, 26 October 2015

Liberian groom, Ivorian bride, Egyptian priest, Scots-Burmese Bishop, Liturgy in French, Venue Casablanca. The Church of England at work!


As a bishop I do not get the opportunity to preside at many weddings. But it is becoming a tradition in St John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca to include a wedding ceremony in the menu of activities during a pastoral visit! And it is quite a privilege for me.

During a visit to Casablanca earlier this month, once again a service of Holy Matrimony for two members of the parish was celebrated, after the required legal civil ceremony, of course.

It was international affair, the Church of England at her multicultural best. The groom, Thomas, is from Liberia. The bride, Lydie, from Côte d’Ivoire. The parish priest is Egyptian. (I am Scots-Burmese). The Church is one of three Church of England congregations in Morocco. Oh, and the service itself was in French.


We all know it is customary for the bride to be late. In Africa this can mean really late. In this case it was an hour and 15 minutes for me to keep the groom cool and patient in the vestry! Time also escaped from the bridesmaids's planning; these beautiful women arrived just in time for the end of the service. But it was a full church and a celebration filled with much music, movement and joy. The reception was much fun too.




The next day the newly-weds came to Church (Thomas is one of the regular musicians) to receive their certificate of Holy Matrimony.


An opportunity for Youth and Young Adult ministry in Barcelona

A confirmation service in St George's Barcelona
I draw attention to the opportunity posted below, which is coming available at St George's, Barcelona. Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested. St George's is a vibrant, international congregation in one of the most attractive and exciting cities in Europe. More information on the community's life and ministry can be found on St George's website

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Opportunity at St George’s Barcelona for Youth and Young Adult’s Coordinator


St George’s has a thriving and developing ministry amongst English speaking teenagers as well as young adults (students and young professionals). This work is led by a Youth and Young Adult’s Coordinator and due to the ending of their permit to work in Spain (they are from the United States), we are very likely seeking a new person to fill this role from January 2016.

The successful applicant should be:

•  Someone with an outward looking, evangelistic attitude, able to take the initiative in welcoming newcomers, flexible to accommodate young people’s needs and open to new opportunities for evangelism as they arise.

•  Be a fluent English speaker. Being able to speak some Spanish or Catalan, or be willing to learn, would be an advantage.

•  Someone who has some experience of working/volunteering and living in a multicultural environment.

The Youth and Outreach Worker is expected to work on average 20hrs per week. This position includes a stipend of 225€ per month, shared accommodation in the fully furnished Church flat and agreed out of pocket expenses will be fully reimbursed. The appointment is for an initial period 12 months starting in January 2016. The successful applicant/s must satisfy EU visa requirements and pass a background check to ensure safeguarding of vulnerable people.

Further information and for a Job Description please email info@st-georges-church.com (please include “Youth and Young Adult Coordinator enquiry” as the subject of the email.)



Saturday, 17 October 2015

Confirmations celebrated in L'Ampolla, Costa Azahar


St Christopher's parish, Costa Azahar, is a relatively new pastoral area in the Diocese. Services are held in three centres: Alcossebre, Vinaros, and L'Ampolla. Three drop-in centres are run by the parish which serve both as fund-raising sources but more importantly, provide the Church with a public window and presence in the communities, as it seeks to serve English speaking Christians in the Spanish coastal area between Valencia and Barcelona.

Candidates for confirmation being watched over by angels!
I recently visited L'Ampolla to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation with members of the parish. They were joined by candidates and their clergy from St George's Barcelona. It was a joyous occasion, which included a paella feast - standard fare in this ancient fishing port.



The parish website is here.

The parish is praying earnestly for the appointment of its next priest-in-charge, who will be privileged to serve an energetic and committed community.


Friday, 16 October 2015

The six elected members of General Synod from the Diocese in Europe are....

The results of the elections to General Synod from this diocese are in!


The three clergy members are: the Revd Tuomas Mäkipää (St Nicholas, Helsinki), the Revd Canon Debbie Flach (Christ Church, Lille), and the Revd Canon Giles Williams (Holy Trinity, Cannes).


The three lay members are: Mrs Madeleine Holmes (Aquitaine), Mr David Coulston (Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca), and Mr Tjeerd Bijl (St John and St Philip's, the Hague).

Congratulations to those elected. They will be in our prayers as they prepare to take up their responsibilities in November.

The General Synod Hansard transcribers will also need to dust of their umlauts for one of our clergy members!

Ecumenical coordination in Athens is growing for the sake of refugees


Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, of St Paul's Athens, reports on the emerging ecumenical cooperation in Greece with regard to assistance for refugees. This emerging coordination is a fruit of much Anglican initiative.

On the morning of Thursday 15 October six Christian agencies and Churches came together in the offices of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR), Athens, to learn what each one was doing in the face of the refugee crisis. They were able to share information on the resources that each may have and to explore the possibility of working more cohesively and effectively.

Around the table were Apostoli (the centre for the welfare work of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens), International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas, the Salvation Army, the Greek Evangelical Church, the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens (who joined by representatives of Anglican Alliance and Us) and a representative from UNCHR. All welcomed greatly the opportunity to be informed of what each Church was doing and something of the resources each could bring to the table.

There was an openness to the idea that an individual Church take lead responsibility for a particular programme or programmes which the other Churches could then tap into, so as to avoid duplication. A commitment emerged to keep one another informed of the constantly changing situation that is the nature of the refugee crisis and to alert one another as to where gaps in humanitarian aid appear.

All acknowledged that the crisis is likely to become greater in the future and will be on-going, so there was an emphasis on long term planning. Discussion arose about establishing a person to assist in collating and circulating information, undertaking research and to be a focus of cohesion for the Churches.

The meeting ended with exploring the provision of a safe passage for the refugees from Greece through to northern Europe as an alternative to the provision made by the traffickers. At present the traffickers appear to be in total and unchecked control of the flow of refugees, extorting vast amounts of money from the vulnerable.

The value of this gathering and the urgency of beginning to work together were so strongly felt that a further meeting was arranged for the end of this month. Such a widespread representation of Churches working together is a rare feature in Greece. ‘A good and fruitful meeting’ was the verdict of Fr Maurice Joyeux  of the Jesuits.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Prayer for Ankara

St Nicholas, Ankara

There was shocking news today from Ankara. A barbaric attack on peaceful demonstrators has resulted in at least 86 deaths. Turkey is to hold national elections on 1 November, and the attack seems to be aimed at sowing a sense of insecurity and fear among the population as they approach the ballot boxes.

I spoke this morning to the locum priest currently serving in St Nicholas Church in Ankara, who was able to confirm that as far as he is aware, there have been no members of the parish affected directly. But everyone is vigilant. I was able to assure him of the prayers of the people of our diocese at this troubled time in the Turkish capital.

Loving God, welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and friends and all who mourn for them. Help those who are fearful and uncertain, and bless them with the knowledge of your steadfast love. Strengthen all who work for peace, justice and reconciliaiton among peoples in Turkey. And may the peace the world cannot give reign in all our hearts.

 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Rachel Carnegie of Anglican Alliance visits Athens to learn of the refugee crisis there


The Revd Rachel Carnegie from Anglican Alliance visited Athens last Thursday. (Anglican Alliance is an organisation of the Anglican Communion that brings together Churches and Agencies of the Communion for coordinated relief, development and advocacy). Fr Malcolm Bradshaw took her to Victoria Square where they were joined by Captain Polis Pandelidis of the Salvation Army. Each day around 3,000 refugees gather in this central Athens square. Approximately thirty five percent are Syrians, others are from Iraq (Kurds), Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here they buy bus and train tickets from traffickers to continue their journey north to the border between Greece and FYRO Macedonia. Although the municipality is providing accommodation in a former Olympic Games sport centre on the edge of the city there is reluctance by the refugees to take up this opportunity because of the scramble for tickets for onward travel. They have no desire to stay in Greece. Rather, they anticipate spending only twenty four hours on the square. No toilet or washing facilities exist. Gastroenteritis is rampant especially among the children.

The young man in red in the above photo is a Kurd from Iraq. So far, the worst part of the journey, he declared, was the four mile sea crossing from Turkey to Lesvos. Here is his story as told recently to Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, our Senior Chaplain in Athens:
"We were held up in woodland by the shore because of rain and poor weather. When the weather changed the traffickers drove us like animals to the waiting dinghies. You can see the scratches and bruises on the arms and legs of the children. Forty to fifty adults and children were crowded onto a dingy built for ten people at the most. Fifty dinghies left that afternoon. The life jackets we bought from the traffickers proved to be fakes. Would do nothing in an emergency. The children were given arm bands and adult life jackets were sellotaped to their bodies.  I took responsibility for the outboard motor. We had barely sufficient petrol to complete the journey. Lesvos was so near yet seemed to take an age to arrive at. I had no knowledge of how to handle the dingy. That part of the journey was horrendous.’ 

Fr Malcolm and Captain Pandelidis discussed with Rachel what they have observed: a rush of assistance to meet the needs of the refugees but no co-ordination. Constant duplication occurs. The three discussed the long term needs. This issue of the refugees is here to stay. It will not end in a matter of weeks or months. They discussed the importance of holding onto and collecting resources for use when donations begin to flag. The Syrians perhaps are in a better position because they may attain amnesty in Europe and some financial resources. The most vulnerable may be other refugees, who may be considered to be economic migrants and who have little personal finance. These may be the ones who are unable to move on. The three also noted that the bitter Balkan winter which is now approaching. There is a need to prepare and distribute survival kits.

Fr Malcolm, Rachel and Captain Pandelidis heard how a coffee shop owner on the square made his toilets available on a regular basis, early in the morning for the refugees; an act of generosity and kindness. He was stopped by the police. Apparently he was infringing upon a law which declared it was illegal to give assistance to irregular migrants!


Rachel Carnegie's visit included time with the local Anglican Church, the Salvation Army and Apostoli, the welfare offices of the Greek Orthodox Church. the purpose of her visit was to explore how best Anglican Alliance could use its networking resources to support the Anglican Church in Athens and the Diocese of Europe in making a response to the needs of the refugees.

One possibility is a joint project between Apostoli and the Anglican Church to rent hotel rooms to provide a three night stay and medical support for families with sick children. A private donor has made money available to start such a programme. It will need further funding as will the other programmes discussed.

Us (formerly USPG) is coordinating the receipt of donations on behalf of the Diocese in Europe and the Anglican parishes in Europe on the front line of this crisis. If you are interested in contributing towards these needs, please visit the Us website here.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

First Priest-in-Charge of St Martín of Porres, La Palma


On September 24th the Venerable Geoff Johnston, Interim Archdeacon of Gibraltar installed and licensed the Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol as the first Priest-in-Charge of St Martín of Porres, La Palma. This is a new chapter in the life of this congregation,which, until recently, was a part of the Tenerife North chaplaincy based on the neighbouring island. Jennifer has been instrumental in the development of this work, including nurturing warm and collaborative relations with the local Roman Catholic clergy.


The licensing was a very joyous occasion and the newly formed congregation was joined by members of the two parishes in Tenerife, as well as friends from the UK and, significantly, four Roman Catholic colleague priests from La Palma, The Revd Doreen Cage came from the Málaga chaplaincy, so the Spanish mainland was also represented at this historic event.


The liturgy included the tradition of the new priest ringing the bell of the parish church. Don Domingo Guerra, one of the RC priests, handed Jennifer a broom, a symbol of San Martín de Porres who considered all work to be sacred, no matter how menial. I reckon it might also be the only Anglican congregation in the world dedicated to San Martín de Porres.


This saint was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579, of mixed Spanish and African / Native American heritage, his father being a Spanish nobleman and his mother a freed slave from Panama. He joined the Dominican order, at first only as a volunteer who had to perform the most menial of tasks, as at that time descendants of Africans and Indians were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. His feast day is 3 November. He is patron of barbers, and, not surprisingly, of those of mixed racial heritage!

Inside S.Martín de Porres 
The future looks very bright for this new parish. We look forward to the next chapter in the development of the work in La Palma, especially in collaboration with our ecumenical partners on the island. Jennifer's ministry presently includes working as a chaplain in the hospital in La Palma alongside another of her RC priest colleagues, who came to her licensing, Don Anselmo. She celebrates a monthly eucharist at the hospital. In addition to services at San Martín de Porres, there is also a monthly eucharist at the (wonderfully named) 17th century Church of Nuestra Señora de Bonanza in El Paso.

Nuestra Señora de Bonanza
The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar is a leading area for Church growth in the diocese. Besides St Martín de Porres on La Palma, other new congregations having been formed in recent years in such places as Costa Brava, Fuerteventura and Rabat.



Friday, 2 October 2015

Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Old Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants call for a unified political response to current refugee crisis



The following is a joint Statement released today by Bishop Christopher Hill, President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the Commission of the (Roman Catholic) Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

CEC is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. So this is a statement from bodies that represent the vast majority of Christians in Europe.

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Refugees getting food and blankets from Hungarian Interchurch Aid as they walk through a bitterly cold night near the Austrian-Hungarian border. © Paul Jeffrey/WCC/ACT Alliance 

2 October 2015

Unified political response needed to current migrant crisis

The European family of nations finds itself confronting a humanitarian crisis on a scale without precedent in its post-war history.  Civil war in Syria, widespread political instability in other areas of the Middle East and dire poverty in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa have forced upwards of two million people, many traumatised by war, others rendered hopeless by poverty, to seek asylum or the opportunity of a better life in Europe.  The migrant crisis has received wide media coverage, the political world has scrambled to find solutions, religious communities and civil society across the EU have responded with sometimes amazing warmth and generosity, especially to those whose need is greatest.  The crisis risks overwhelming us and the suffering of those looking to Europe for refuge, asylum and the opportunity of a better life risks becoming more acute - not least with the coming of winter - unless a political response, supported proportionately by all EU member states, is forthcoming.

Christian leaders across the continent have made their voices heard, pleading for humane treatment for migrants, asking the member states to be generous in their hospitality and pleading for solidarity across the Union in extending welcome to asylum seekers, with particular sensitivity to the most vulnerable, especially families with children and unaccompanied minors.  We, speaking as presidents of the two largest groupings of Christian communities within the European Union, renew our plea for a concerted, unified political response to the current migrant crisis and pledge the support of the Churches we represent by playing our part, at every level, from the local/parochial to the national, in embracing with generosity the twin challenges of welcoming brothers and sisters from beyond our territorial frontiers in desperate need and who turn to us for help, and of making them an integral part of the European society to which we belong.