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.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Caring for God's Creation - the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar

A very happy Synod Standing Committee. Archdeacon David Waller 2nd from left
"Caring for God's Creation" was the theme that united the clergy and lay delegates to the Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod last week. The synod is one of the largest in the Diocese, which brings together our congregations in Gibraltar, Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands), Andorra, Portugal (including Madeira) and Morocco.

The Revd Prof. Adrian Low, a scientist as well as the Chaplain of Costa del Sol West, set the pace for the clergy at their prior chapter meeting by exploring many themes tha ttouch upon the interface of science and religion, from quantum entanglement to the statistical questions of whether we are alone as sentient beings in the universe. The clergy also considered in more depth the Diocesan Rule of Life and the Revd John Chapman from St George's Barcelona shared his experience of a Rule of Life in his ministry and in parish life. Dr Clare Amos, the Diocesan Director of Discipleship, who supports the Diocesan Rule of Life project was the bible study leader for the synod.

Professor Low explaining how light is both wave and particle!
The Revd John Chapman

The Revd Dave Bookless of A Rocha was the keynote speaker, and motived and inspired the gathering with rich and challenging theology. The Diocesan Environmental Officer, the Revd Elizabeth Bussman reminded delegates of the ECO Church initiative which the Diocese has embraced.

The RevdDavid Bookless

Just to wake people up in an afternoon "graveyard" slot, I led the synod in exploring the theme "Sex! Why is this so complicated?" It was an introduction to the many layers of theology, biblical interpretation, sociology, biology, missiology, and human rights that need to be considered as the Church seeks pastoral teaching and practice in the complicated area of human sexuality.

Fr Bob Bates gave an update on the growth and development of the Santiago Camino Chaplaincy, a relatively new and flourishing ministry, now in its 4th year. The former Archdeacon Geoff Johnston returned to recieve a formal thanks from the synod for his leadership and support in past years. There appeared to be an almost seamless hand-over to the new Archdeacon David Waller who is already well known to the synod, having been an Area Dean before.

Archdeacon David Waller thanks Archdeacon Geoff Johnston on behalf of the synod
The synod was also a time to celebrate new ministries and reaffirm current ones. Alwyn Carter was admitted to the office of Reader, to serve in the parish of Costa Almería and Costa Cálida. Fr Alan Bennett was re-licensed as assistant chaplain in the same parish, and Fr Nigel Stimpson, of Costa del Sol East, was commissioned as Area Dean of southern Spain.

Alwyn Carter is admitted to the office of Reader. Area Dean Fr Nigel Stimpson looks on
Fr Alan Bennett
Fr Luis Vizcarra from the Diocese of  Peru, which is linked with the Gibraltar Archdeaconry presented the work of his own diocese high in the Andes. He also led us in prayer in his mother tongue, Quechua.

Fr Luis 
The Gibraltar Archdeaconry delegates work incredibly hard. They also have fun together; the synod ended with a quiz night, highly competetive, of course, with one very triumphant team.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Donna Derrick: new Reader in Christ Church Coutances

Area Dean Canon Debbie Flach admits Donna to the office of Reader
The Chaplaincy of Christ Church Coutances has a new licensed Reader. On 11 January the Revd Canon Debbie Flach, Area Dean, admitted Donna Derrick to the office of Reader and licensed her for ministry in Coutances. The Church in Gratot was full for the occasion, with clergy from the ecumenical fraternity present, signifying the warmth and esteem with which our new Lay Minister is held.

Debie receives her blue scarf, symbol of her licensed lay ministry
As there is no chaplain licensed to the parish at present, Donna will have a full ministry as a Reader, working alongside PtO priest, the Revd Chris Probert. There are two centres of worship in the Chaplaincy, Gratot Hommel and Vivey. Among Donna's first duties was to host the RC Bishop of Coutances and Avranches for the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrations which was held in our church in Gratot. Donna has written in the Countance parish magazine, "Our coming together in worship shows us a glimpse of the future God wants for us. That we live together in unity, respectful of each other’s differences".

Thursday, 30 January 2020

A testimony from Hamburg: "it means love, grace, forgiveness, peace and promise"

Candidates remind themselves of their baptism
In the rite of confirmation there is a moment when testimonies can be shared by the candidates, as to why they have decided to receive this sacrament. It is always a moving time. At a recent confirmation in the Church of St Thomas à Becket in Hamburg, one testimony from a young candidate was particularly inspiring. I share her words here:
"When I decided to get confirmed, I was thinking of confirmation as a way of continuing in faith. But it’s so much more than that. During our confirmation lessons we learned about what it all really means; it means dedicating ourselves to the Christian belief and to the Lord. It means not only acknowledging the faith within ourselves, but with all of the Church. It means love, grace and forgiveness. It means peace, it means promise, and true and meaningful trust in the Lord our God".
The parish has existed since 1612. It describes itself as "a welcoming, active and inclusive church, growing in our relationship with God and with the community". That was certainly my experience at the confirmation mass.

Monday, 27 January 2020

23 from across Europe, from Russia to Malta, gather to explore vocation to Holy Orders

Canon William Gulliford reported on our recent Enquirers' Weekend which is held annualy for those at an early stage of exploring Holy Orders in the Church of England. This year there were 24 enquirers, equal numbers of men and women, from across the diocese. The breakdown of nationalities speaks of the international reach of this Church of England diocese in Europe:

Italian 1
French 1
Dutch 1
Belgian 3
Maltese 1
UK 4
German 2
Norwegian 1
Finnish 1
Kenyan 1
Russian 2
Latvian 1

Together the enquirers explored what would be ahead of them as they journey along the discernment path, whether to distinctive diaconate, priesthood or even the religious life. Former candidates from the diocese now serving elsewhere in the Church of England, Frs Ian Gallagher and Alaric Lewis were on hand to speak of their experience. Vocations Advisors, Fr Douglas Emmott and Ms Sonia Taylor spoke on ministry and spiritual direction respectively. Some individuals currently in training for the ministry gave input as well as a member of the staff of ERMC, one of the theological training centres used by the diocese. 

Fr William Gulliford noted that in the week which ended the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and just one week before the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the presence of this group of European postulants in London was significant, not least for the parishes the groups visited on Sunday 26 January.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Fr David Waller begins his ministry as Archdeacon

The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar (which comprises Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Morocco and the Balearic and Canary Islands) and the Archdeaconry of Italy and Malta have a new archdeacon. The Venerable David Waller took up office officially on Wednesday 15 January. He has a long experience in this diocese, as Chaplain of Palma de Mallorca and Area Dean of Catalunya and the Balearics.

It is an exciting new chapter for these two archdeaconries, and we welcome Archdeacon David to this post and pledge our support for him in his new responsibilities. There are about 75 congregations to look after!

Archdeacon David will preside over the synod of the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar which begins this Tuesday.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

If you are looking for a Lent Course this year, check this one out!

Opening the Scriptures: Setting our hearts on fire. This is the title of this year's Lent Course sponsored by the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). 

I know that members of the Diocese in Europe might wonder why I point towards a CTBI resource, but we are part of the Church of England which is a member of CTBI, along with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, Free Churches and Pentecostal/New Churches, among others. In fact, I am a trustee of this ecumenical body, in the last year of my 5 year term representing the Church of England.

But most important to note is that this year's Lenten study is written by our very own Dr Clare Amos, the Director of Lay Discipleship of this diocese! 

Dr Clare Amos
Clare, as the readers of this blog may know, is a world-class lay theologian, specialising in biblical studies (as well as interfaith relations, among other things). She studied at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem, one of the foremost centres for scriptural studies in the Roman Catholic Church. Before she joined the staff of this diocese, her last position was as Director of the Intereligious Department at the World Council of Churches. Her many responsibilities in the Diocesan Ministry Team include the work on the Rule of Life, the lectionary blog, and directing the MES (Ministry Experience Scheme) for interns in the diocese. She is a member of Holy Trinity, Geneva.

Opening the Scriptures: Setting our hearts on fire, as the title suggests is a study which explores ways to discover the Bible with our hearts as well as our minds. I commend it most warmly to groups in this diocese as well as individuals. I know that it will be found to be a stimulating course for this upcoming Lent.

It can be downloaded from the CTBI website here:

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

A joyful Christmas to all!

San Ignazio, Rome

I wish all the clergy and faithful of the Diocese in Europe and all readers of this blog a joyful and blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

St George's Venice: a welcoming home for students and young adults

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw reports from St George's Venice, as he observes rising waters covering the ground floor of his flat again, that a month of high tides and flooding is beginning to be quite tedious. Nevertheless the parish is in good heart and attendance strong. 

In the past year, pews were removed from St George's, replaced by movable seating which has greatly enhanced the use of this wonderful Church building in the heart of La Serenissima. 

Fr Malcolm writes about one such opportunity, reaching out to students and young adults in this city:

"Over the past twelve months international students from the University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and similar establishments have attended worship at St George’s, Venice. Mrs Gilly Wiscarson, a member of the Chaplaincy Council, took the initiative to invite these students to a meeting accompanied by a plate of food which she herself prepared. As a result a monthly gathering has emerged and numbers have increased to twenty seven. These gatherings are not limited to students but are open to any adult within the same age range. Nor are any conditions imposed such as attendance at Church or being Christian.
On the evening of Friday 13th December a Christmas party was held at St George’s for these students. It was truly international and inter-faith. Young adults from Nigeria, Kenya, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Romania, the United States, India and elsewhere shared the occasion. Some were from different Christian denominations; others were from non-Christian traditions. Members of the Chaplaincy Council helped with hosting this occasion. It was truly a time of fun, lively conversation and an ease of relationships. Towards the end of the evening the students presented Gilly with a bunch of yellow roses and a gift expressing their thanks for the monthly meetings - for the laughter they enjoy, the sharing of difficulties whilst abroad and the taste of some home cooking."

Fr Geoff Johnston: 50 years a priest!

Surrounded by 9 priests, 1 deacon, 2 archdeacons and 2 bishops, the Revd Canon Geoff Johnston celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood on Sunday 22 December. Christ Church Belper was filled for the anniversary mass. Archdeacon Geoff was joined by his wife Carol, members of his family, parishioners, and friends and former colleagues from around the UK and the continent.

Fr Geoff has served the Church in many roles over these past 50 years: parish priest, industrial missioner, lecturer, ecumenical officer, area dean, assistant director of ordinands, and acting Archdeacon of Gibraltar, and acting Archdeacon of Italy and Malta. It was a joyful and moving occasion indeed, particularly at the heart of the service when Fr Geoff recited in the eucharistic prayer "we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you".

Ad multos annos!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

A new deacon ordained on St Lucy's Day

The home of our Chuch of England congregation in Bergen Norway is the 12 century Mariakirken (St Mary's Church). It is not only the oldest Church but the oldest building in the city, dating from some time between 1130 and 1170.  

This ancient Church was the venue for the ordination of the newest deacon in our diocese, the Revd Kirk Weisz. On St Lucy's Day, (Friday 13 December), the congregation gathered to celebrate this joyful step in Kirk's journey towards priesthood. 

Archdeacon Leslie presents the ordinand
Kirk has for many years been a minister of the Presbyterian Church, USA. His discernment to embrace Anglican orders, supported by our Director of Ordinands and the Candidate's Panel of the Church of England's Ministry Division, is in direct continuity with his flourishing pastoral ministry, as was pointed out by the preacher at the service, the Revd Jules Cave-Berquist. Mother Jules emphasised that God does not set aside what is good and fruitful, but builds on it. 

Reader Iris reads one of the lessons
Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel, the relatively new Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe presented the ordinand. Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith certified to all the legalities being fulfilled. Reader Iris Bjørnø read one of the lessons. I was assisted by the Senior Chaplain of Norway, the Revd Darren McCallig (Bergen is one of the 4 principal congregations within the Anglican Chaplaincy in Norway). Deacon Frances Hiller was deacon of the mass. 

The ordinand prostrates (an ancient biblical sign of humility) as the Veni Creator and Litany are sung
Saint Lucy's Day, or Santa Lucia, is a great feast in much of Scandinavia, including Norway. It is celebrated as a festival of light (Lucy comes from the Latin lux, light) in the dark of the Nordic winter, as the feast day of this 4th century martyr was the winter solstice before the Gregorian calendar reforms. It is a fitting day for a deacon's ordination, as a deacon is charged with bringing the light of the Gospel to God's people and to the world. 

We welcome Kirk into the clergy of this diocese, and thank God for the many gifts he brings in his ministry. 

Deacon Kirk Weisz, 4th from left)

Monday, 2 December 2019

Lay ministers (Readers) gather for in depth theological exploration of the Anglican heritage

The Diocese in Europe has been described as "the Anglican Communion in miniature". Not a bad description, given that 40 of the 165 countries of the Anglican world are in this diocese! Not a bad description since in most of our congregations there are over a dozen nationalities at worship. Not a bad description given that our present licensed clergy come from about 20 different countries around the world. It often surprises folk who come to know our diocese that migrants from the UK are no longer the majority in so many of our congregations. Our diaspora communities are made up of migrants from all around the world!

Canon Paul Wignall, Director of Reader Ministry
If we are "the Anglican Communion in miniature" it follows that our Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers), as preachers and teachers of the faith, need to be very familiar with the essentials of Anglican ecclesiology, the nature of the Anglican Communion and the fruits and challenges of Anglican ecumenical dialogue with other Christian traditions. Those who are in training for Reader Ministry in this diocese are required therefore to attend at some point in their formation (or as soon after admission to this ministry as possible) a weekend in-depth seminar on "The Anglican Tradition". Thus our trained lay theologians in this diocese are well equipped to understand our international Communion, its history and contemporary challenges, our ecumenical vision and commitments, as well as our own particular C of E structure, governance and legal/canonical tradition. (Canon law is after all simply "applied ecclesiology").

Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith illustrates the governance of the Church of England
This past weekend 19 Lay Ministers or Lay Ministers in training attended this seminar. It was led by the new Director of Reader Ministry, the Revd Canon Paul Wignall. Keynote speakers were our Diocesan Registrar, Aiden Hargreaves-Smith, Dr Alan Wakely, former Secretary of the Central Readers' Council, my Chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller, and myself.

Aiden engaged the Readers in a lively, participatory presentation on the governance and canons of the Church of England. Fr Paul introduced us to three contemporary Anglican theologians from our global Communion, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Michael Curry and Dr Kwok Pui Lan. Dr Wakely led an fascinating historical account tracing the ministry of Reader back to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Deacon Frances presented on music in the Anglican tradition, from Choral Evensong, through hymnody and modern worship songs, emphasising how most Anglicans in the pews learn much of their theology from the hymns and worship songs they sing. My lectures were on the principles of Anglican ecclesiology, the development of the Anglican Communion, and what Anglicans have contributed to and learned from our ecumenical dialogues.

Deacon Frances on Anglican music
Trainee Lay Minister Eric Sibomana from Holy Trinity Brussels commented on the weekend, "I have discovered so much about the Anglican tradition....and I have been a cradle Anglican! Throughout this seminar, j'ai été à la fois surpris et enrichi" (I have been both surprised and enriched).

Saturday, 23 November 2019

St Paul's Pro Cathedral Valletta celebrates 175th anniversary of consecration

The spire of St Paul's Pro Cathedral on the Valletta skyline
Dowager Queen Adelaide was the Royal Benefactor who wished to establish a "Collegiate Church in the Anglican Tradition" in Malta. St Paul's, Valletta, is now one of the two Pro-Cathedrals in the Diocese (the other is in Brussels) which together with our Cathedral in Gibraltar make us rather well endowed as far as cathedrals go!

The Main Entrance to St Paul's, by night
2 - 3 November was a busy weekend for the Pro-Cathedral. Over the course of the two days, several events were held to mark the 175th anniversary of the consecration of the building. 

When consecrated by the then Bishop of Gibraltar on All Saints day 1844 it was dedication to St Paul who holds great significance for the Maltese. He was the first Christian missionary to the island when he was shipwrecked there around AD 59/60, thus was the Apostolic founder of the Church there.  For this reason, the Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, thought it fitting that consecration crosses be installed and blessed as part of the anniversary. Consecration crosses are reminders in our physical buildings that the Church of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.This unusual liturgical event occurred on 2 November during a Requiem Mass celebrated for the Friends of St Paul's AGM. 

As fitting as this ceremony was, it was not thought fitting (or safe, given what I was wearing) for me to climb up the ladder to bless the crosses. The intrepid Fr Simon, much fitter than I, climbed the ladder to consecrate each of the six crosses while I remained on terra firma to recite the prayer of blessing.  

The next day, All Saints Sunday, the 175th anniversary itself was celebrated in a festive mass. The President of the Republic of Malta, Dr George Vella KCMG and the British High Commissioner, HE Stuart Gill OBE were present as well as ambassadors from Germany and Italy, and several government ministers and ecumenical dignitaries. 

HE President Vella and Mme Vella, with Chancellor Canon Simon Godfrey
It was a joy on that occasion also to witness the Revd Canon David Waller be installed in his stall (of St John Henry Newman), by the Chancellor. Fr David is the Archdeacon-designate to serve the two archdeaconries of Italy and Malta and Gibraltar. 

Archdeacon Designate Canon David Waller
The Pro Cathedral is in the midst of a capital appeal for a complete restoration. It is the largest appeal ever of its kind in our diocese, with a target of €8 million. So far, €5.2 million have been raised, which includes a generous donation from the European Union. The restoration will include urgent repairs to the spire which is a central part of the iconic Valletta skyline, as well as other works inside and pressing. An appeal is being launched to raise more than €8,000,000 (more than €8 million) for vital restoration work. The fund will be ring-fenced for this work only - it will not be used for running expenses.
The need is pressing. An appeal is being launched to raise more than €8,000,000 (more than €8 million) for vital restoration work. The fund will be ring-fenced for this work only - it will not be used for running expenses.