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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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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

UN Summit: A very cautious optimism

With Canon Andrew Khoo
Last week I was privileged to represent the Anglican Communion at the United Nations General Assembly meeting on refugees and migrants. Along with a colleague, Lay Canon Andrew Khoo of Kuala Lumpur, in the Province of South East Asia, we were able to observe the summit close at hand for 48 hours and witness the historic signing of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants signed by the leaders at the UN.

I came away from the summit impressed by the sheer vast nature of the gathering: the 193 member states of course who are the key players, but also the range of groups from around the world representing civil society, Christian and other faith representatives, NGOs, UN and Development agencies and others, who together recognise that we are facing a global crisis, a crisis that needs a new approach that will need solidarity from all.

A Syrian Refugee gives his testimony before the UN
There were some very significant voices that said we needed to recognise that the systems for dealing with refugees and migrants have failed. In those moments of honesty the world leaders admitted that this new, better, comprehensive approach is urgently needed.

The New York Declaration is not perfect.There are huge gaps in the new initiative, particularly around the funding commitments which have to be negotiated separately. Many of the 90 paragraphs in the Declaration are phrased vaguely or are only “considerations”. There is now a process of 2 years work ahead of the member states to agree further concrete details of the global "Compact". So my enthusiasm about the global community gathering to address this vital issue is tempered by these realities. I am only cautiously optimistic.

Among the hopeful signs that I would point to however, from the perspective of our Churches, is the fact that embedded in the New York Declaration is a recognition that faith based organisations have a role to play in this new comprehensive approach. As to what that role may be, it must certainly involve us in the constructing of a new narrative about refugees. The New York Declaration boldly about the need to counter xenophobia, racism, blaming migrants and refugees for all sorts of problems. Here the Churches and our own Anglican Communion have a role in helping to change this toxic narrative. As Christians, embedded in our biblical tradition are stories of exile, refuge, sanctuary, migration and persecution of peoples. God's message to his people through the biblical stories is a clear challenge to respond with welcome and hospitality to strangers, sojourners and refugees. While the Churches of the Anglican Communion and indeed other Churches do not have much money to contribute to addressing the scale of the crisis, nevertheless, Christians can play a vital part in helping to counter the growing worldwide xenophobic demonisation of refugees and migrants.

Another hopeful sign from the Declaration is the identification of the vulnerability of certain groups, particularly children and women, who need special and heightened protection and attention. This coincides with the Churches' own perspective and commitment to serving the most vulnerable among the vulnerable.

I commend the Anglican Communion Office at the UN for its close monitoring of these issues on our behalf, and for their engagement with partners in advocating for the necessary changes.

Cardinal Perolin, Vatican's Secretary of State, at a fringe meeting

Monday, 19 September 2016

A warm parish and ecumenical welcome to the new priest of St Thomas Becket, Hamburg

 

The richness of our ecumenical life became evident last Saturday as I licenced the Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel as Chaplain of St Thomas à Becket Church in Hamburg. Many seafaring nations have long-established churches in this ancient Hanseatic city, which are now in communion with the Church of England thanks to the Porvoo Agreement. Of course the Lutheran Church is the local church and we have warm ecumenical partnerships with them through the Meissen Agreement. The Bonn Agreement of 1931 brought us into full communion with the Old Catholics. Additionally we have very fruitful dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church and the Methodist Church. All this contributed to a splendid turnout for Fr Leslie's licensing service with clergy and representatives from the Churches of Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Old Catholics, Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Methodists joining members of the parish who welcomed their new priest.

Fr Leslie comes to this post as one of the Church of England's leading ecumenists; his immediate past position was the European Ecumanical Secretary for both the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Combined with his own international background, fluent German language skills, and a passion for mission, outreach, fine music and liturgy, he is poised to lead this vibrant and historic parish into a bright future.

It was joyful musical liturgy to inaugurate Fr Leslie's ministry, with members of the parish presenting him with symbols of his priestly and pastoral ministry which will build them up in their own life in Christ. European and African hymns and psalms were sung and greetings and words of welcome exchanged in German.

We welcome Fr Leslie to this diocese

Photos: Roland Magunia

 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Learning about an inclusive church in Latvia

Members of the Nordic/Baltic Deanery Synod
The theme of inclusion was explored in many ways during the recent Nordic/Baltic deanery synod of the Diocese, which met in Riga, Latvia. The Bible studies, led by the Revd April Almaas, used a technique which encouraged us to read the scriptures from the perspective of a variety of characters which she assigned to us, as a way of understanding how different people often hear different things from the scriptural text.
April Almaas leads Bible Study

Synod delegates at work
The Area Dean, the Revd Nick Howe, led us through an exercise which was based on a questionnaire filled in by parish reps and their clergy as to various ways in which their parish was, or was not inclusive of differently-abled persons, visible minorities, men and women and people of different sexual orientation. It was interesting to compare and contrast the views from the clergy and the laity!

Area Dean Nick Howe
 
The Principal of the Theological Faculty of the University of Riga, Professor Dace Balode, gave us an engaging lecture about the status of women in Latvia since the regaining of independence from the Soviet Union. She included in her lecture the situation of women presently in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, which is, sadly, an example of non-inclusion in the life of the Church.
 
St Saviour's
The synod joined the congregation of St Saviour's on Sunday for the liturgy. It was a joyful celebration, with two choirs giving excellent musical leadership, a sumptuous community lunch following the mass. At the end of the service, I was invited to dedicate the crypt which had been recently renovated and which is used for the many outreach programmes of the Church, with the elderly, the homeless, those suffering from addictions and refugees.

The blessing of the renovated crypt
St Saviour's, led by their priest, Bishop Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, is known to be a unique parish in Latvia, with a particular ministry of openness to those who feel, for whatever reason, excluded from other Christian congregations. I recorded a moving testimony from one of the members of St Saviour's, Irma, who spoke of how the outreach ministry of the parish in the crypt first attracted her, then she soon found herself worshipping "upstairs". Although Irma, by her own admission, is still exploring what life in Christ means for her, she is convinced that there is something beautiful and welcoming happening at St Saviour's which makes it a place to grow in her faith.


Friday, 9 September 2016

A diverse clergy chapter gathers in Riga

Clergy of the Nordic/Baltic Deanery

From Iceland to Estonia, the clergy of the Nordic and Baltic Deanery have gathered in Riga, Latvia, for a chapter meeting, prior to the full deanery synod. "An Inclusive Church?" is the intriguing theme for the synod and the clergy are spending some time in prayer, bible study and fellowship, considering dimensions of this theme and the extent to which it is a challenge in the parishes they serve. In terms of national/ethnic inclusivity, the Deanery Chapter is very diverse indeed! I count 11 countries of origin for the priests and deacons of this part of the Church of England.

The tower of St Saviour's Riga

The chapter began with a tour of the historic old town of Riga, with a particular focus on the ecclesiastical history of this ancient city. St Saviour's Anglican Church has a prominent and historic place in the old town, within walking distance to ancient Churches of Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist traditions. St Saviour's is helpfully located on "Anglican Street".

An introductory session was led by the Very Revd Karlis Zols, the Dean of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (LELCA) Deanery in Latvia. The LELCA is a Church in Communion with the Church of England, as a signatory to the Porvoo Agreement. The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia, however, is not a member of the Porvoo family. Dean Zols gave an interesting overview of the history of the Latvian Lutheran Church which largely went into exile abroad (with its Archbishop) when the Soviet occupation of the country began. Many pastors who did not leave the country were deported to Siberia. In 1989 an Archbishopric IN Latvia was restored, hence the existence today of the two jurisdictions. The Latvian Church abroad jurisdiction now has 5 parishes back in the Latvian homeland itself.

Dean Zols with priest of St Saviour's the Rt Revd Jana Jeruma-Grinberga

 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Fr William Gulliford DDO reports on new interns being placed in our parishes


Four new interns on the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES) have just attended a two day residential induction. Fiona Hill (back middle), Joshua Peckett (front middle left), Alison Speed (front middle right) and Annie Bolger to the right of Alison have started their programme which lasts until the end of June 2017.

CEMES is part of a strategy to give those considering ordination a parish-based framework for the discernment of their Christian vocation. As well as structured time in parishes alongside clergy and lay people, taking an active part in the ministry of the place, there is time for personal reflection and spiritual guidance with a mentor and monthly academic input from a theological educator.

After a pioneer year in 2015-2016 with two UK interns being placed in Brussels and Ghent, this year 3 of the interns are from the UK and one from within the diocese. Fiona will be based in St John and St Philip The Hague, Joshua will be based at Holy Trinity Brussels, Alison at Holy Trinity Geneva and La Cote, and Annie in Sts Martha and Mary Leuven. Parishes are asked to cover expenses and all accommodation costs, while the National Church provides a grant per intern of £2,000.

The mentors on the scheme are the chaplains: the Revd Andrew Gready (The Hague), the Revd Canon John Wilkinson (Holy Trinity, Brussels), the Revd Canon Alex Gordon, (Holy Trinity, Geneva), the Revd Carolyn Cooke (La Cote), the Revd Canon Professor Jack McDonald (Leuven).
The North West Europe hub is served by Mrs Janet Sayers (Pastoral Supervisor) and Jack McDonald (Educational Supervisor). The Geneva hub’s team consists of Miss Mary Talbot (Pastoral Supervisor) and Dr Clare Amos (Educational Supervisor).

The Diocesan Director of  Ordinands, Canon William Gulliford, has been working with this wider team to plan the event and to co-ordinate the growth of the scheme. We hope that the scheme will grow. (The Diocese in Europe was actually offered grants for up to 8 candidates this year). We look to be able to find places for more candidates next year, so if your chaplaincy is interested, please contact the DDO.

Please pray for the new interns and their chaplaincies.

Friday, 2 September 2016

We have got the means. Have we got the will? Fr Malcolm at Greenbelt on refugees

Fr Malcolm at Greenbelt. Photo: Leah Gordon, USPG
It was a year ago today that the photos of three year old Alan Kurdi, dead on a Turkish beach, triggered a grass roots wave of conscience that moved governments and international agencies to take action on the refugee crisis. The refugee crossings from Turkey to Greece have reduced considerably this year due to the EU-Turkey migration deal. (However, that the numbers risking their lives to cross from North Africa to Italy and Malta are not reduced). But now over 57,000 asylum seekers are trapped in Greece, held in squalid conditions, despairing of their future. Only about 5,000 refugees in Greece have been relocated to other EU countries, out of a total of over 66,000 promised such resettlement.

Our Anglican Church in Greece, headed by Senior Chaplain, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw MBE, has been active in motivating ecumenical partners and agencies to coordinate activities and share resources to address the complex changing situation in the country. The Anglican Mission Agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), has been supporting our diocesan efforts and continues to support Fr Malcolm and our Church in Greece in reaching out to the refugees now stuck in camps and detention centres.

USPG invited Fr Malcolm to speak at the Greenbelt Christian Festival last weekend about this work with refugees in Greece. The challenges have changed from a year ago, but the efforts are as intensive as ever. "In the camps", says Fr Malcolm, "a huge diversity of cultural groups live side by side crating a tinderbox that can flare up at any time. People are in despair having fled their warring homelands to find new homes in Europe and now find themselves long-term residents in camps, struggling to feed their families and obtain the basic necessities for survival. In these desperate circumstances, when a person from one cultural group is finally entered into the asylum process, this can trigger a violent reaction from another group who has not received this status".

This is the focus presently for the Anglican Church and USPG: reaching out to refugees in the camps with medical support, nutritious meals, legal advice and support for vulnerable children.

Here is a very moving clip from Fr Malcolm's presentation at Greenbelt:


Father Malcolm Bradshaw at Greenbelt from USPG on Vimeo.