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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.


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Monday, 30 November 2015

Focolare Bishops meet on Chalki

 

The Theological School of Chalki

The Focolare are a lay movement within the Roman Catholic Church (although there are Anglican member and members from other Churches as well), founded by Chiara Lubich. It consists of some 7000 consecrated members in over 80 countries around the world. They hold their goods in common and dedicate their lives to the realisation of Jesus' prayer "that they all may be one". In addition there are close to 2,000,000 persons associated with the movement in over 200 countries.

The Bishop Friends of the Focolare movement number about 100 and we try to meet each year in some place with ecumenical significance to underline our shared calling as ministers of the unity of the Church, the search for Christian unity being at the heart of Focolare spirituality. Our meetings are a rich experience of communion among the bishops even though from different traditions: Roman and Maronite Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Syrian Orthodox and Czech Brethren. We are not all able yet to share in the eucharist but we commit ourselves solemnly to work to restore eucharistic communion among our Churches.

This past week we met on an island in the Sea of Marmara, Chalki, where a famous theological school of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was established in 1844. (There has been a monastery on the site for over 1000 years, established by St Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople).


Cardinal Vlk presides at the RC Eucharist during the Focolare Bishops' Meeting

From its foundation the Theological School of Chalki has been central to the life of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with over 900 graduates, 300 of which became bishops and 12 Patriarchs! It was also a centre of the ecumenical movement, always open and ready to receive students from everywhere and all Churches. It was closed by Turkish state authorities in 1971 along with all other religious-affiliated institutions of learning. However, it is the only such institution that remains closed to this day under the 1971 law. Thus the Patriarchate and indeed the ecumenical movement world-wide is deprived of this resource to train future leaders of the Church.

In 1962 Bishop Geoffrey Rowell (also a Focolare Bishop) came here as a student. No surprise to most of us as Bishop Geoffrey has been everywhere!

There are no cars permitted on Chalki so the transportation around the island has not changed much since Bishop Geoffrey was first there.

 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Bishop Friends of Focolare attend Christ Church Istanbul


The annual gathering of Bishop Friends of the Focolare Movement is being held in Halki and Istanbul. These are bishops from Christian Churches who hold fast to a spirituality of unity, which is at the heart of the spirituality of the Focolare movement, itself a lay movement within the Roman Catholic Church. I have been one of these bishop-friends since 2002.

About 10 of us, mostly Anglicans and Lutherans, from the UK, Brazil, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic attended the Eucharist for Advent Sunday at Christ Church, Istanbul, where I presided and preached. The Chaplain is the Revd Canon Ian Sherwood.

The congregation of Christ Church is like so many of our urban parishes, a mixture of people from around the world. At the coffee following the mass I had conversations with Iranians, Americans, British, Turkish, Irish, Pakistani and Nigerian members in attendance - a rich mixture and a welcoming community.

 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

An extraordinary and generous gift to support our work with refugees

Julia by Joseph Wright

Now here is some exciting news from Us (formerly USPG) who is our principal partner and collaborator in terms of fund-raising and support for our Diocese in Europe refugee response:


The Revd Tim Harford, Us Director of Fundraising and Communications, describes below in his own words how Us came into possession of an Old Master painting that is to be auction at Sotheby’s to raise funds for refugees in Europe:

When my phone rings it is more often than not someone trying to sell me something – advertising space, promotional products, a conference place…So one of my recent phone calls really took me by surprise:
‘I see you are helping the Diocese in Europe to co-ordinate its response to the Europe refugee crisis. My family own an old painting by one of England’s most celebrated artists. It was valued a few years ago at £180,000. We’d like to give it to you so we can play our part in all this.’
What an incredible offer!
I cleared my throat, then my diary, and agreed I would visit the gentleman, his wife and their son two days later. I met a delightful couple. Their home was simple, adequately furnished and equipped, but not displaying any signs of an extravagant or indulgent lifestyle. They talked about their concern for the refugees entering Europe and their heartfelt desire to do something about it. We discussed the sort of things that the Diocese in Europe would like to achieve and how their gift could be put to use to support many people through the most distressing circumstances over the coming months.
Their son took me over to his house to show me the painting in question, hanging in the dining room. Interestingly the painting depicts a young woman in exile, kneeling in a cave, with her hands held out as in an appeal for help. It seems very appropriate. Entitled Julia, by Joseph Wright of Derby, the painting carries the inscription: ‘A cavern with the figure of Julia banished thither by her grandfather Augustus.’ (The cavern in the painting is in Naples and was first sketched by him around 1774.)
On returning to his parents’ home I was fed with lamb chops and new potatoes and given a handwritten note gifting the painting to Us.
Well outside my normal sphere, I have now been in touch with Sotheby’s in London to discuss how we would bring this extraordinary gift to market. The painting is known to them and their specialist in British paintings 1550-1850 has tentatively suggested the painting should be presented for auction at their ‘Old Master and British Paintings’ sale on 9 December 2015, one of their most prestigious sales of the year.
Sotheby’s specialist will shortly be visiting the donors to carry out a valuation of the painting, which I await with great excitement.

 

Sotheby's have valued the work at £100,000-£150,000. For more information on the work, click here.
For more information in Us support for the Diocese in Europe's work with refugees, click here.

 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw addresses a General Synod fringe meeting on the refugee crisis

Photo: Leah Gordon Us

On Wednesday morning Us (formerly USPG) held a fringe meeting for the General Synod delegates, over breakfast. It was a time to present something of the reality of the refugee situation in the Diocese in Europe and the response that Us is assisting us to make. Our own Fr Malcolm Bradshaw, Senior Chaplain in Athens, was on hand and gave an passionate and moving account of the experience of the refugees in Greece. It is an excellent summary of this complex situation. A video of his presentation is here.

According to Us, there was standing room only at the event and all those present will now spread the word even wider of our Diocese's engagement with this issue.

 

Bishop Angaelos addresses the General Synod on the complexities of the refugee crisis




Photo by Geoff Crawford

My good friend and ecumenical colleague, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK addressed the Church of England's General Synod yesterday on the complex refugee crisis, underlining the perspectives from Christians in the Middle East. His Grace is the Moderator of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), of which I am a trustee. He was one of the Church leaders who was with me on a CTBI visit to the Greek-FYRO Macedonian border in September, which was the first official visit of any sort to the region from the UK to learn first hand about what is the greatest crisis in Europe since WWII.
 
Speaking of the crisis as an opportunity for Christians and the Church to act, Bishop Angaelos said:
 
“We are a united Body of Christ, there is no Church of the East and Church of the West; it is one Body and it suffers equally, and so we need to approach this matter collaboratively. These are, after all, vulnerable people, not merely statistics. We also extend this voice of advocacy to non-Christians, as we cannot just look after 'our own'”.
 
He went on to say:
 
“This situation does however present a wonderful opportunity, because there is no greater place for light than in the most abject darkness; so we are here as that light and that hope…We are not here to worry or fear, but to think how we can collaborate. Taking inspiration from Saint Francis, we must work to be the living scripture before all”.
 
Reassuring members of the Synod that the crisis is not theirs alone to respond to, Bishop Angaelos concluded by saying:
 
“We need to collaborate ecumenically as this is not a problem for just the Church of England, but the Church IN England. We are here to work together as Churches with our networks in the United Kingdom and in the Middle East”.
 
Bishop Angaelos went on to say:
 
“We must also remember to support our inter-religious friends when they speak out powerfully, as they too become targets”.
 
He concluded by saying:
 
“I am thankful for my presence here ecumenically and I see myself as a voice in and a voice out. As a voice in I bring you the voices of the Middle East Church leaders both here in the United Kingdom and across the Middle East who value your support. As a voice out I will present the sentiments that I have felt personally in this chamber that their brothers and sisters here want to support them in every way, and in the words of Revelation 1:9 we do indeed “share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance”.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Clergy chapter of Catalunya, the Balearic Islands and Madrid


In our diocese clergy can often feel isolated in their ministry; it is unlikely that there will be another Anglican priest nearby. In the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar, clergy clusters or regional chapters are encouraged to meet for mutual support and fellowship, and to help break down the sense of isolation.

Area Dean Fr David Waller recently invited me to spend time with the chapter from Catalunya, the Balearic Islands and Madrid. We met at the Monasterio de Santa Lucia, Mancor de la Vall, high on a hill in Mallorca.


It was a time to share experiences, challenges, joys and vision. It was a privilege to pray together and to celebrate the eucharist in the chapel which dates from 1275. The food and wine were also good!



Monday, 16 November 2015

Warm support to our Church from the Minister of Islamic Affairs in Morocco


The Church of England along with the French Protestant Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church (Greek and Russian) are the 4 Christian Churches which are permitted by His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco to function in the Kingdom, ministering to our own expatriate members. Indeed, our Anglican Church is treated with great respect in Morocco, shown by the most cordial welcome I have been given by HE Ahmed Toufiq, the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs. His Excellency provides us with support and advice when we need it, to enable our ministry to expatriate Anglicans to flourish.


During a recent courtesy visit to his office in the grounds of the Royal Palace on 12 October, His Excellency gave me a gift of a copy of the Quran which has a special significance. Hundreds of thousands of women are being taught to read and write through special classes run by mosques throughout the country. This year alone, a quarter of a million women are enrolled in the programme. The Quran which was given to me is a copy of a transcription done by 77,000 women, each writing one word of the text.  


Later that day, Fr Medhat and I paid a courtesy call to the new Ambassador of the UK to the Kingdom of Morocco, Her Excellency Ms Karen Betts. It was the Ambassador's first day on the job, and we were her first official visitors!


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Rome grieves in solidarity with Paris


I'm in the Eternal City (Rome) for ecumenical meetings. It is evident that the hearts of Romans are weeping for the citizens of their great sister city of Paris. At the sung mass in All Saints this morning the parishioners prayed the intercessions in silence while they lit candles for the victims of the terrorist attacks.

I'm staying next door to "St Louis of the French" church which is filled with people coming to say their prayers and also light candles in solidarity.



1.5 million Armenian martyrs of 1915 commemorated in Westminster Abbey

His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II
100 years ago this year over 1.5 million Armenians were killed in what has been described as the first genocide of the 20th century. A special service was held in Westminster Abbey on 28 October to commemorate this tragedy, and to celebrate the lives of the newly-sainted martyrs of 1915. The service was led by His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.


Over 2000 filled the Abbey for the prayers which celebrated the victory of life, righteousness and fraternity over death, injustice and enmity. His Holiness paid tribute to "Anglican sisters and brothers who helped Armenian refugees, giving them shelter and the use of their Churches, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries".

HG Bishop Hovakim about to read the Gospel
Mr Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia; and HRH the Prince of Wales attended the service, along with His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukian of the Armenian Diocese of Great Britain, and many representatives of other Churches.

I was privileged to have been invited, as was the Revd John Barker (3rd from left above), our priest in Yerevan, Armenia.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

People from 24 countries find a home in St George's Madrid


St George's Church in Madrid celebrated the 90th anniversary of the building on Sunday 25 October. The regular congregation was joined by many visitors, including several Ambassadors and other clergy. The patio of the Church provides an excellent venue for the post service refreshments and tapas!


When built 90 years ago, it was known as the British Embassy Church of St George. Things have changed. This is now a very international community. The Chaplain, the Revd Paul Ormrod, tells me that at least 24 nationalities are represented in the congregation today.


Music plays a large part in services at St George's. On this anniversary occasion, the regular choir was supplemented by a Nigerian one who sang some hymns in Igbo. One of the members of St George's who is originally from Nigeria is exploring a possible vocation to the priesthood.

Presently the parish is served by Fr Paul, the Chaplain, Fr Nigel Thomas and Deacon Mathew Phipps, Curates, and Reader Celia Paterson.



Friday, 13 November 2015

An unprecedented service in St Paul's Cathedral led by HG Bishop Angaelos OBE


On 16 October, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, a close friend and ecumenical colleague, received an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen, for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom’.

It is a fitting honour for one who has worked tirelessly to advocate for religious freedom, calling for the protection of God-given rights and freedoms for all. Bishop Angaelos has testified in the United States Congress on human rights abuses and taken part in a variety of activities to raise awareness of a number of issues in the Middle East in particular, again focussing on the protection of human rights and freedom.

To mark the occasion, on 16 October, I was privileged to take part in an unprecedented service in the Order of the British Empire Chapel in St Paul’s Cathedral, followed Evensong. Many ecumenical, diplomatic and official guests joined members of the Coptic community as Bishop Angaelos led a service of prayer in the Coptic Orthodox tradition.






Thursday, 12 November 2015

The first Anglican confirmations in Rabat

Churchwarden Angie and musician Thomas with Fr Medhat Sabry
Services have been held each week in Rabat for about a year now. Fr Medhat Sabry, the priest-in-charge of St John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca, has pioneered this new community in the Moroccan capital which where there are a large number of foreign Christians who seek to worship in the English language.

The community is growing with members coming from the Philippines and several sub-Saharan African countries. The weekly eucharists are held in a chapel of a school run by the Roman Catholic Filles du Cœur Immaculé de Marie.  Fr Medhat is assisted by St John's Churchwarden Angie, and one of St John's musicians, Thomas (who is also exploring Reader ministry).

The candidates make their vows of confirmation 
Sunday 11 October was a significant date for this new community: three members of congregation were confirmed. I believe this may be the first Anglican confirmations ever held in Rabat.

This new congregation has chosen St Augustine of Hippo as their patron. He is, of course, an African saint.

The newly confirmed of St Augustine of Hippo congregation take the light of Christ into the world

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A weekend of Remembrance and the celebration of a new ministry at St Alban's Copenhagen

Photo courtesy of Anita Wales
Sunday 8 November was a busy one at St Alban's Copenhagen. It was, of course, Remembrance Sunday, and as in most of our churches located in capital cities, the traditional Remembrance Service is well attended by the diplomatic and military communities. The UK Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark, Her Excellency Vivien Life, led the diplomats and other dignitaries who took part in the service in St Alban's.

The Revd Darren McCallig and Ambassador Vivien Life. Photo courtesy of Anita Wales
At an earlier service that day, I was privileged to license Professor Ursula Sonnewald as a Reader in the Copenhagen parish. Ursula has been a Reader for about 5 years and has been ministering in our Church in Trondheim. Her research in neurochemistry has taken her to Copenhagen, where she will be a valued member of the ministry team led by the Chaplain of St Alban's, the Revd Darren McCallig.

Professor Ursula Sonnewald with Fr Darren and the St Alban's Churchwardens. Photo courtesy of Anita Wales
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Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Ecumenical Patriarch in London

With Coptic Bishop Angaelos and His All Holiness the Patriarch
The last week was a busy one ecumenically with the visit of His All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The programme was full involving services of prayer for the plight of refugees, lectures on the environment, and a major service of Evensong in Westminster Abbey followed by prayers at the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor.



At the service in the Abbey the recent statement published by the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue was presented to the Patriarch and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The text celebrates what Anglicans and Orthodox can say together about the human person, created in "the Image and Likeness of God". It forms the theological background to further work that the Commission will now undertake on ethical issues. For a solid reflection on what it means to be human, this is excellent reading.







In his lectures the Patriarch made several references to the connection between human rights, social justice and climate change. Known as "the Green Patriarch" His All-Holiness emphasised that a change of heart and mind, a conversion, a metanoia, is needed among the world's peoples, as global warming is a moral issue. We do not have the chance anymore to pretend that we don't know about it. "We cannot remain silent or complicit. Healing a broken planet is an imperative for the Church's mission".



Photo courtesy of Lambeth Palace

Friday, 6 November 2015

On Lesvos it is discovered that there are no place to bury refugees who have drowned


Regular monthly coordination meetings regarding refugees are now in place between representatives of five different Churches in Athens (Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Anglican and Church of Sweden), in order to coordinate their response and resources.

At their meeting on Friday 30 October, pictured above, Fr Maurice Joyeux of the Jesuit Refugee Service informed the participants of the distressing news that on the island of Lesvos there were no burial facilities for refugees who have died or drowned. The hospital mortuaries are full. Containers are now being converted into refrigerated spaces. Fr Maurice felt that the Churches should take a lead in urging the authorities to make provision and ensure that appropriate funeral rites are available. The cemeteries on Lesvos are for the local population with limited space for further burials.

The Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens has recently channelled £3.000 from donations it has received to 'Lighthouse', an organisation of young adults who meet the dinghies arriving on the rocky coastline of  Lesvos and provide emergency help.



   

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Church Leaders in Europe call for refugees' safe passage

Photo courtesy of WCC/Johannes Minkus
The activity in Europe concerning the refugee crisis continues and churches across the ecumenical spectrum are uniting voices and efforts in the face of the challenges.

Last Thursday I was one of a group of 35 bishops and church leaders from 20 countries who gathered in Munich to discuss refugees and the role of the churches in Europe. The consultation was called by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria, and the Evangelical Church of Germany. We came from Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches as well as representatives from church-based humanitarian and refugee organisations.

The consultation agreed a communiqué with affirmations and recommendations. I was privileged to be one of the drafters, together with colleagues from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, the Church of Greece and the Churches Commission on Migration in Europe.

The full text of the communiqué is below. It can also be found on the WCC website here.

_______________________________________________________________________________



Communiqué 

29 October 2015

The World Council of Churches (WCC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria and the Evangelical Church in Germany jointly hosted a Church Leaders' Consultation on the European Refugee Crisis. The leaders met in Kardinal-Wendel-Haus, Munich on 29 October 2015. 35 participants came from Churches and ecumenical organisations from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Welcome addresses by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the General Secretary of the WCC and Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, set the scene for presentations from countries across the regions.

In this meeting there was an opportunity for an exchange of information from places that are countries of origin of refugees, from those countries of transit and from host countries. The discussions were focussed on the tragic situation of the Middle East and on refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

The participants were deeply conscious in their discussions of the presence of Christians in the Middle East for 2000 years from which Churches in Europe also trace their origins. We are called to be a people of faith and hope, and we are grounded in every place; we know the hearts and desires of our people, as well as the resources and spiritual riches that are potentially available to all of us.

In this process we heard the following affirmations:

1. As Christians we share the belief that we see in the other, the image of Christ himself. (Matthew 25.31-46), and that all human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1. 26-27).

2. The experience of migration and crossing of borders is known to the Church of Christ. The Holy Family itself were refugees; the very Incarnation of Our Lord is a crossing of the border between the Human and Divine.

3. While we deeply deplore the crises forcing people to leave their homes, we welcome all refugees in Europe as we see in them the image God, and as God’s children they bring their gifts to our continent.

4. Today there is evidence of a renationalization of politics. However the Church is both local as well as universal, and in the life of Churches we resist tendencies to work in isolation and we affirm our deep commitment to a universal and ecumenical horizon.

5. Many in Europe are willing to provide assistance and help to all refugees. At the same time there is a high degree of fear and anxiety. In addition we observe polarising tendencies that cause instability. In the face of this challenge the Church promotes collaboration, cooperation and solidarity.

6. The need of sustainability of support systems was evident in many reports. The refugee crisis is not merely a short-term issue. The Church always takes the long view; we are ready to accompany people into their future.  A new paradigm is emerging in Europe - living with fragility, but as Christians we understand how our fragility can also become our strength.

7. Governments are recognizing that the Churches can offer additional and fresh wisdom, and some are turning to Churches to ask for ideas, vision and partnership. The UN is wishing to engage in a closer dialogue with the WCC. We welcome this developing deeper cooperation.

8. The strong message heard in reports was an appeal to stop the wars, persecution and injustice. These are the main causes forcing people to flee their homelands.

 9. We resist the tendency to look at the refugee crisis only in terms of numbers and statistics. This violates the Christian value of respect for the dignity of every human being.  These are people with lives, families, homes, and youth.

10. We recognize the devastating effects on their homelands of the flight of many young, skilled and educated people.

Based on these affirmations we make the following recommendations:

1.  We recognize that there are no quick solutions and we urge political leaders to acknowledge that persistent, consistent long-term efforts are needed and as Churches we wish to accompany our governments in seeking these sustainable solutions.

2. As Church leaders we recommend to governments and political parties to refrain from any exploitation of this human crisis for political ambition or benefit. We urge political leaders not to let any such fears shape their policy.

3. We also hear the fears of Christians and others in society, fear of loss of material and job security, of being in competition with others, and of loss of identity. We urge Christians not to let our fear mean a rejection of refugees. We are aware that integration of newcomers is hard work. However Christians are a people of hope and we can see the arrival of refugees among us as a potential blessing, bringing new life and energy to our communities.

4. We make an appeal to all governments in Europe to uphold our common values and shared responsibility for life as a community living in this continent. This means addressing in a spirit of solidarity, cooperation and fellowship, not only the emergency situation, but the upcoming related challenges of integration in society, education, and design of inclusion policies.

5. As Churches this is an opportunity to share more widely experience and expertise in offering spiritual and pastoral support, ecumenical and interfaith cooperation and building bridges between diverse communities.

6. We urge political leaders to ensure a balanced approach, addressing the root causes of refugee crises, supporting refugee camps in neighbouring countries, and receiving refugees in our own countries. We urge these to be addressed in a complementary way. As Church leaders all situations are equally important to us.

7. As Church leaders we recommend to all people of good will a deep commitment to communicating the truth avoiding distortion and exaggeration.

8. We recommend investing in safe passage, assisting those regions which are receiving the majority of refugees, such as Greece, Italy, and other countries of transit.

We are committed to continue our ecumenical dialogue on the refugee crisis in Europe. We have found this free space for discussions among Church leaders in Europe in cooperation with WCC, CEC, CCME and other ecumenical partners to be of value.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of life, hope and compassion, continue to grant His Spirit and to receive all in his grace.

Image courtesy of WCC/Marianne Ejdersten