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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Thursday, 11 May 2023

Ecumenical and multicultural ministry in Norway


On Saturday 22 April, the Church of St Edmund’s Oslo, with its Chaplain the Revd Canon Joanna Udal participated in a city-centre ecumenical event designed to bring the quite secular Norwegians back into touch with their Church once again. The Cathedral in Oslo and two other parish Churches hosted celebrations highlighting history, culture, music, and, importantly, the Church’s work to combat environmental degradation and to encourage interfaith understanding and respect. 

Canon Udal was able to speak to the gathering and bring Anglican greetings to this important event. I was pleased to be able to have conversations with Bishop Kari Veiteberg of Oslo, who is a leading voice for the social justice work of the Church.

The weekend was principally for pastoral duties, at St Edmund’s for baptisms and confirmations and in Bragernes Church in the city of Drammen, for the confirmation of members of the South Sudanese Maban Community, a community of refugees who are largely of Anglican background. 

I was assisted with translation in Drammen by Fr Isaac, an Anglican priest from South Sudan, who was ordained in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Fr Isaac is in the process to receive PtO in this diocese.

Pastor Isaac

Tuesday, 18 April 2023

The southernmost Cathedral in the Church of England

Good Friday at St Paul's

The Diocese in Europe is blessed with three cathedrals: The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar, Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral in Brussels, and St Paul's Pro-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta. It was a joy to be at one of them, St Paul's, for the sacred Triduum, leading the congregation through the mystery of the passion of Our Lord, and then sharing in their festive mass of the Resurrection on Easter Day at which parishioners also attended from the daughter congregation of Our Lady and St George, on the island of Gozo. 

St Paul's is the southernmost cathedral in the Church of England, with its spire (now under renovation) an iconic feature of the skyline of this Mediterranean island.

Fund-raising continues for the spire restoration. Donations can be made here:


Wednesday, 5 April 2023

Chrism masses: renewing ministerial commitment and blessing the oils for the sacraments

St George's Madrid

The Chrism Mass is a key moment each year when the unity of those engaged in public ministry is manifested and renewed, and when the sacred oils of baptism, the sick and chrism are blessed for distribution across the diocese. 

St James the Apostle refers to anointing the sick with oil, and the prayer of blessing asks that the Lord may free those anointed from pain and illness and made well again in body, mind and soul. In blessing the oil of the catechumens we pray that those anointed in preparation for their baptism will be given a deeper understanding of the gospel and strength for the challenge of Christian living. The sacred chrism, a mixture of olive oil and fragrant and aromatic essences, is blessed by the bishop and priests together, and is used after baptisms, at confirmations and ordinations, as a sign of the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A translation of an ancient (sixth century) hymn O Redemptor sume carmen is sung as the oils are processed to the altar. It contains a verse looks forward to the passion and resurrection about to be celebrated in our churches: 
Lord Christ, the Father's only Son 
Who took our flesh in Mary's womb
give light to your anointed ones
and break the power of death's dark tomb.  

This year I presided at a Chrism Mass on Monday in Holy Week, in St George's Madrid. Clergy and Readers from across Spain, Portugal and even Switzerland joined together for this celebration. Deacon Justo from the partner Diocese of Peru, was our special and honoured guest.

Deacon Justo

On Tuesday in Holy Week clergy and Readers from Italy, France and the Netherlands came together in All Saints Rome. At that celebration, recognising the rich ecumenical life in the city of Rome, we were joined by clergy from the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, and the Church of Scotland. It was moving to commit ourselves as ecumenical partners to live, work and pray as one body in Christ.

All Saints Rome

In our scattered diocese, the Chrism masses also provide an occasion for isolated clergy and people to renew their links of companionship. Both St George's, Madrid, and All Saints, Rome, provided a community lunch for us following the services.



Wednesday, 22 February 2023

The Very Revd Lucinda Laird, Chaplain of St George's Venice


There has been a Church of England presence in Venice since 1604, when the Revd William Bedell arrived in the city as part of the embassy of Queen Elizabeth I to the Doge. Over 400 years later, St George's offers a welcome to residents and to the many visitors who come to the city. It continues to be a congregation with people from many parts of the world, with an extraordinary range of gifts and talents.

On Sunday 19 February, I licensed the Very Revd Lucinda Laird as the new chaplain of St George's (with Christ Church Trieste, too.) Mother Lucinda comes to us from the US Episcopal Church where she served in many places, as well as latterly as the Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris. I believe she is the first woman to serve as our priest in Venice. We welcome her most warmly to the Church of England Diocese in Europe.

It was a significant ecumenical occasion as well. Lucinda has already been personally welcomed by the Patriarch of Venice who invited her to preach in St Mark's Basilica in the week of prayer for Christian unity. For the installation mass, the Patriarch sent his ecumenical delegate, Monsignor Angelo Pagan to represent him, and the local parish priest, Fr Valentino Cagnin, was also present (and prayed for Mother Lucinda at his own parish mass that day.) Other Anglican clergy present included the Revd Castro Adieabah, who is studying in Venice, and the Revds Nick Fisher and Martin Poole, who have both assisted in St George's in the past. 

At the Confirmation

On the evening before the installation, I was able to confirm a new member of the congregation, of Turkish background. 

My own ecumenical visits were included in the parish weekend, including to the Patriarch and the Orthodox Metropolitan, both old friends.

I had to hobble around Venice, due to a fracture in my left foot (sustained when I was in the Holy Land the week before). The "space boot" I have to wear is nowhere near as elegant and exotic as the costumes in Venice that weekend, at the height of Carnivale! 

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Blessings on the new Bishop of Visby, our partner diocese


We send our best wishes and assurance of our prayers to Bishop Erik Eckerdal, who was consecrated the Bishop of Visby in the Church of Sweden on Sunday 15 January, in the great cathedral in Uppsala. Visby is the partner diocese of the Diocese in Europe, within the Porvoo family of Churches.  The partnership takes its origin from the fact that the Bishop of Visby also oversees the parishes of the Church of Sweden Abroad, which covers Europe, like ourselves. But Bishop Erik also oversees the Church of Sweden congregations in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia! 

Photo from Svenska Dagbladet

Consecrated at the same time was the new Bishop of the Diocese of Linköping, Marika Markovits. I was moved to be invited to be one of the consecrators of Bishop Erik, by the Archbishop of Uppsala,  Martin Modéus, at the High Mass (Högmässa) of Consecration.  Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden, and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson were in attendance. Archbishop Martin also invited me to preach the homily at the vigil Vespers in the cathedral, on Saturday evening. 

Bishop John Okoro and Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang

It was also a joy to be with some old friends among the foreign bishops, including the Obispo Maximo of the Philippine Independent Church, His Grace Rhee Timbang, and Bishop Emeritus of the Old Catholic Diocese of Austria, the Rt Revd Dr John Okoro. This was the first time that an Old Catholic Bishop had participated in the consecration of a woman bishop. 

Photo courtesy of the Church of Sweden

The Archbishop of Uppsala with the two new bishops and Their Majesties, the King and Queen

Thursday, 5 January 2023

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine

It was not what I was planning for the week after the New Year break, but nevertheless it was a  privilege to be one of the representatives of the Anglican Communion at the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Christopher Hill, a distinguished ecumenist and one of my predecessors as Co-Secretary of ARCIC, and Archbishop Ian Ernest the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and I made up the trio of delegates.

Bishop Hill, Fr Martin Browne OSB (the Vatican's man for Anglican relations) and Archbishop Ernest

It was cold and rather misty morning in St Peter's Square (and we were seated 2 hours before the mass began). But the square was soon filled with mourners from around the world who joined prayerfully in the requiem at which Pope Francis presided (from the chair) with the cardinals and bishops concelebrating. 

Preparing for the Requiem

There is no denying the range of views about Pope Benedict. He was loved by some for his strong teaching, particularly in his encyclical letters, and his emphasis on the beauty of the liturgy which he taught should be at the heart of the Church's life. Others were less pleased with the inadequate way he dealt with clerical abuse and with his conservative theological positions. But at his simple, dignified funeral such differences were put aside; we were all aware that we had gathered to commend a  human being, like us prone to failings and error, to God our loving and merciful Father.   

I was able to speak to Pope Francis for a moment to convey the condolences of the people of the Church of England Diocese in Europe.


Saturday, 24 December 2022

Christ is born, to save us with his love

A Ukrainian Icon of the Nativity

The greatest and most loving gift we celebrate at this time of the year is the very birth of Our Lord. The great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner summed it up: “When we say, ‘It is Christmas,’ we mean that God has spoken into the world his last, his deepest, his most beautiful word in the incarnate Word, a word that can no longer be revoked because it is God’s definitive deed, because it is God himself in the world. And this word means: I love you, you, the world and humankind”

A Ukrainian Christmas hymn also affirms this truth: 

God eternal is born tonight.

He came down from above

To save us with his love

And he rejoiced.

A joyful, loving and peaceful Christmas to all!

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

St Nicholas Helsinki embodies the symbolism of Christingle


The mass for the Third Sunday of Advent at St Nicholas, Helsinki, was an all age eucharist, incorporating a nativity play for the Liturgy of the Word, and after the communion of the people, Christingles!

Most Anglicans know about Christingles, a custom which originated in Germany in the 1700s. At St Nicholas’s the symbolism of the Christingle itself, the orange representing the world, and the red ribbon the love of Christ which embraces the world and her peoples, came alive as the children of the chaplaincy had links to every continent on the planet. Together and with great joy, (suitable for Gaudete Sunday!) they bore witness to Christ, the Light of the World.

TV cameras making last minute adjustments at the rehearsal for the service

The next day, the Chaplain, Fr Tuomas Mäkipää, was equally busy, as the Chaplaincy's annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols held in the (Lutheran) Cathedral was this year to be recorded for broadcast on Finnish State Television this coming Sunday. 

Helsinki Cathedral

The Cathedral which holds well over a thousand people was quite full, which was very encouraging as the service itself took place in the midst of one of the worst blizzards Helsinki had seen for years. Fr Tuomas had made sure that a wide cross-section of the parish were given key parts, from members of the youth group, to senior members who have supported the Chaplaincy for decades. 

Ambassador Bubbear

While the order of service was the traditional one, some parts were in Finnish, including the 8th lesson read in excellent Finnish by HE Mrs Theresa Bubbear, the UK Ambassador to Finland.    

Fr Tuomas and Dr Hamid

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Farewell to Archbishop of Uppsala

On Sunday 30 October, the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Most Revd Dr Antje Jackelén retired. Archbishop Jackelén is a long-standing friend of the Church of England and as the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden has played a significant role as one of the primates of the Churches which are in communion as a result of the Porvoo Agreement.

In her closing sermon during the High Mass at which she laid down her crozier the Archbishop preached on “life together” as a description of what God wants for the people of the world: 

To live together. In the home, among neighbours, in villages and cities, in a society that is shaped by everyone's participation, in the interdependence between all the countries of the world, in community with all other living beings on a planet where the climate is changing, and to live together with and before existence's deepest secret, that we, along with most people on earth, call God”.

Many testimonies and speeches were given recognising Archbishop Jackelén’s worldwide influence. Greetings and warm words of thanks were extended from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. I was privileged to be able to deliver a message from Archbishop Justin Welby. 
Among the colleagues who gathered was the Revd Professor Dr Charlotte Methuen, representing the Scottish Episcopal Church. Charlotte was a former Director of Ministry in the Diocese in Europe and is now Professor of Church History at the University of Glasgow. A close friend of Archbishop Antje, Charlotte preached the homily at the Vespers the evening before the farewell service.

Summing up the many tributes, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Revd Anne Burghardt, spoke of the Archbishop’s role in leading the Church’s humanitarian and development work, and strengthening the work of advocacy, theological education and gender justice.

Professor Methuen and a Representative of the Sámi Community

Particularly notable at the service was the presence and participation of representatives of the Sámi People. One of the lessons was read in the South Sámi language. Last year, Archbishop Jackelén led her Church in issuing an official apology to the Sámi for centuries of mistreatment towards them, and for the pain and shame inflicted on generations of these indigenous peoples through racism and abuse of power. The presence and participation of the Sámi was a sign of the commitment to the path of reconciliation.  

Friday, 4 November 2022

Commitment, faith and love at St Anthony Abbot, Padova

Every time I pay a pastoral visit to St Anthony Abbot Church in Padova, I come away inspired and deeply moved by the infectious and joyful faith of the community. My most recent visit in October was no exception. The priest, Fr Amos Osaromkpe, leads his people forward, following the COVID difficulties, to rebuild the life of the chaplaincy. 

Lay commitment and discipleship in the parish goes from strength to strength, evidenced by many new members of the Mothers’ Union whom I admitted during the (3 1/2 hour!) Sunday liturgy. I was assisted in this very happy task of admission by Mrs Tonie Chandler, the Diocesan President of the MU. 

Many young people were confirmed and committed themselves to be active followers of Our Lord. During the eucharist, as they gathered around the waters of baptism, they solemnly reminded themselves of that most important moment in their lives, when they became joined to Christ Our Saviour. 

It was a blessing to be able to celebrate all this, and much more during my visit, and to receive the warm hospitality and generosity of the faithful. The parishioners are determined to ensure that I am the best dressed bishop in the Church of God, and presented me with a very fine pair of new shoes!