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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.



Friday, 9 April 2021

HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. RIP


This is what we have posted on the Diocese in Europe website, on news of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

_______________________________________________________________________

Buckingham Palace has announced today the death of HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby said:

"I join with the rest of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, and give thanks to God for his extraordinary life of dedicated service. Prince Philip continually demonstrated his unfailing support and unstinting loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen for 73 years.

He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service. During his naval career, in which he served with distinction in the Second World War, he won the respect of his peers as an outstanding officer.

On the occasions when I met him, I was always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.

The legacy he leaves is enormous. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which he founded in 1956, has inspired generations of young people to help others and instilled in them a vision for citizenship and a desire to serve their communities. His work with countless charities and organisations reflected his wide- ranging, global interests in topics including wildlife, sport, design, engineering and inter-faith dialogue.

In his powerful advocacy for conservation his was a prophetic voice for over half a century, as he brought people from around the world to a new concern and commitment to action for the future of our planet.

As we recover and rebuild after the terrible trial of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need fortitude and a deep sense of commitment to serving others. Throughout his life Prince Philip displayed those qualities in abundance, and I pray that we can take inspiration from his example.

I also join many people in giving thanks for the marriage of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, and for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Theirs was a marriage grounded in friendship and mutual respect and sustained by shared faith in Christ.

I pray that God will comfort Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal Family at this time. May His Royal Highness rest in peace and rise in glory."

The Archbishop of York, The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell has also issued a statement which you can read here.

Bishops Robert and David have joined the expression of condolences to the Royal Family. In a statement they said:

“We acknowledge that while the UK has lost an untiring servant, and the Royal family lost a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, the admiration for The Duke of Edinburgh extends throughout the Commonwealth of Nations and beyond.

For our European diocese, we remember that Prince Philip was born in Corfu, and his links across our continent were extensive. When he lived in Malta, he and the then Princess Elizabeth worshipped every Sunday he was not at sea at St Paul’s Pro Cathedral in Valletta, where he remained the Royal Patron of the Friends of St Paul’s Pro Cathedral.”

The Church of England has opened an online book of condolence, and prepared some suggested liturgies.

Guidance to chaplaincies in the diocese regarding memorial services and other arrangements will issue shortly.

The Diocese offers this prayer at this time:

God of our lives,
We give thanks for the life of Prince Philip,
For his devotion to Her Majesty The Queen,
For his dedication to global community and God’s creation,
And for his lifetime of loyal service.
We entrust him now to your love and mercy,
Through our Redeemer, Jesus Christ,
Amen.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Easter - healing, hope and love for the world



We celebrate another Easter in the midst of the pain of the world caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Lockdowns continue in many of the countries and regions of the diocese. But for much of the world vaccines are not yet available, and billions of people remain vulnerable, without a coordinated response to address the spread of the virus. 

Justice and peace seem far from reach for millions of our sisters and brothers; grief from war and violence in so many places has not abated. Close to my own heart. the bloody oppression of the people of Burma continues, with no signs of the military thugs lessening their grip on power.  But not only in distant lands, in every community, when we open our eyes, we know there is injustice, grief and despair. 

Christians celebrating the resurrection victory of our Lord are renewed in our commitment to reach out in love, and bear hope to a world in the midst of pain and suffering. The Easter story of the myrrh bearing women is our inspiration for this task.
Almighty God, who revealed the resurrection of your Son to Joanna, Mary and Salome, as they faithfully came bearing myrrh to his tomb: Grant that we too may perceive the presence of the risen Lord in the midst of pain and fear, that we may go forth proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

A blessed and joyful Easter to all!

Christ is risen!

 

Easter hope expressed by the young people of St Nicholas's Helsinki

 


The Anglican Church in Finland, whose principal congregation is St Nicholas Helsinki, was founded by refugees from St Petersburg, fleeing the Russian Revolution. The cross above is one of the historic artifacts brought with them. 

Today, almost 100 years later, St Nicholas's congregation comes from around the world, a vibrant community of people of all ages. 

The children and young people of St Nicholas parish have prepared and released this video, in which they express their Easter hopes and prayers:  

  • for a greener and fairer world for all God's creatures, 
  • for Coronavirus to leave the planet 
  • to see family abroad 
  • to have birthday parties again 
  • to be with friends and eat chocolate eggs!  

It is a delightful and joyful piece, which summarises our hopes before God this Easter.

Thank you to the young folk of St Nicholas! 






 

   

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Anglican Lutheran Society - a place of friendship

St Ethelberga of Barking who founded All Hallows in 675

The Anglican-Lutheran Society is an ecumenical body which brings Lutherans and Anglicans closer together in common cause for the unity of Christ's Church. It promotes a knowledge of our respective traditions and opportunities for common worship, study, witness and, of course, friendship. 

Last Saturday, 6 March, the Annual Meeting was held virtually, hosted by the Church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower in London and their vicar, the Revd Dr Katherine Hedderly. It was a world-wide gathering of friends indeed. Members hail from 37 countries (so far!).  The business of the Annual Meeting was transacted with the gentle leadership of the Co-Moderators, Bishop Michael Ipgrave (Anglican) and the Revd Dr Jaakko Rusama (Lutheran). At the meeting, I was honoured to be elected the Anglican President to serve alongside my dear friend and sister (Lutheran) Bishop Jana Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, also elected at the same time.  

Bishop Jana Jana Jeruma-Grinberga

But the large part of the day was devoted to exploring together an important theme, of interest to Christians everywhere and of every tradition: "Witness Through Service and Sacrifice: Martyrdom in the Church Today".  

Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani

Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani led a very personal and thought provoking session based on her experience as a Persian Christian, whose father was a bishop in Iran, and her brother a martyr of the Church in that country. She shared some deep insights and some lessons for today's Church, where we are often worried about growth and numbers, setting goals and outcomes. Bishop Guli encouraged us, inspired by the martyrs, to be less fearful about loss, to have hope, "to let go of what has been to allow something new to be born". 

Henrietta Blyth

Henrietta Blyth, Chief Executive of ‘Open Doors UK’, gave a presentation on the persecution of Christians around the world today. She drew attention to the multiple ways that we can be vulnerable today, on account of our faith, our ethnicity, and our gender, sometimes, all together.  

God has blessed the Anglican-Lutheran dialogue around the world in recent years. We have achieved together some remarkable convergence in matters of faith. In places such as the British Isles and Ireland and the Nordic and Baltic countries, and the USA and Canada, Anglican and Lutheran Churches have restored full communion between them.  The Anglican Lutheran Society provides a common home for Anglicans and Lutherans to enjoy fellowship and learning, and to be together as friends as we journey together towards the unity which Christ wills for the Church. 

I encourage Anglicans in this Diocese in Europe, who have an ecumenical commitment written into our DNA as a diocese, to consider membership. The website is here


Saturday, 13 February 2021

Looking for a Lent Resource: This is highly recommended!

Among the Anglican Communion's Five Marks of Mission, it is perhaps the fifth mark "to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the Earth" that has an urgent resonance for people of all faiths, and none. We are living in a damaged world in the midst of a climate emergency and time is running out for us to stop and change direction; we have no other planet to go to. 

With Lent fast approaching, I wish to commend a resource produced by USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). It is a set of 6 studies, exploring environmental justice from Anglican perspecrives around the world entitled For Such a Time as This. This resource is available in PDF format here. Each study provides a reflection from a global partner, biblical extracts for reflection, questions for discussion, prayers and a simple action or commitment. The beauty of this resource is that it is easy for small groups to manage. Although written with a UK audience in mind, (hence references in the actions to saving "pence" or eating UK vegetables) it is rich with experiences from around the world which make is particularly attractive for our international diocese. 

If you are looking for an easy to use Lenten resource, I would highly recommend this. Of course, it is applicable for use at any time of the year. 

The Diocese in Europe has prioritised addressing environmental issues, as individuals, church communities, and in the diocese as a whole. USPG is a major partner and friend of our own diocesan life and mission. Rebecca Boardman, one of the senior staff at USPG (and a former worker in our refugee projects in Greece) sits on our Mission and Public Affairs Unit, which is chaired by Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel. USPG's historic predecessor SPG, founded many of our present day chaplaincies. 



Photos courtesy of USPG

Friday, 22 January 2021

Ecumenism of the Cross

A tragic on Wednesday afternoon this week killed at least 4 persons in buildings belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid parish of the Virgen de la Paloma in the heart of the Spanish capital. One priest was among those who died. The building was close to a school, where, due to the snow, the children were not in the playground, or else there would likely have been further tragic deaths and injuries. Reader Celia Paterson who serves in St George's Madrid, knows some of the teachers and LaSalle Brothers at the school, for she has trained them in Godly Play courses. Celia has been in contact with them.  

I also sent a message to the Cardinal Archbishop on behalf of Anglicans. In this week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we remember that we are also united in times of grief and sorrow. The International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, IARCCUM, of which I am the Anglican Co-chairman, describes what we call "the ecumenism of the Cross". 

Su Eminencia

En nombre de nuestro pueblo de la parroquia de la Iglesia de Inglaterra, St George, Madrid, deseo enviarle nuestro más sentido pésame por las muertes tras la explosión de ayer en los edificios de la parroquia de la Virgen de la Paloma. Tengo entendido que hasta el momento han muerto 4 personas, entre ellas uno de sus sacerdotes, el padre Rubén Pérez Ayala, y muchas más han sufrido heridas graves.

Ofrecemos nuestras oraciones por todos los que han muerto, para que el Señor los reciba en su paz eterna. Oramos también para que Dios ayude a los heridos y consuele a los que han perdido a sus seres queridos.

En esta Semana de Oración por la Unidad de los Cristianos, unimos nuestros corazones en solidaridad con nuestras hermanas y hermanos de su Arquidiócesis, les enviamos nuestro amor fraterno y les aseguramos nuestra oración continua.

Atentamente y fraternalmente


Friday, 15 January 2021

Mgr Mark Langham, RIP



Mgr Mark Langham at the Anglican Consultative Council, New Zealand, 2012 

Anglicans around the world, particularly those who have been closely involved in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, join our Catholic sisters and brothers who are mourning the death of Mgr Mark Langham. Fr Mark died in hospice care early this morning after a struggle with cancer. He was the Chaplain of Fisher House, the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy at Cambridge University. Before that he worked from 2008 to 2013 at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, where he was responsible for relations with the Anglican Communion and with the Methodists. During that time, he served as the Roman Catholic Co-Secretary of ARCIC, and also was among the official representatives of the Catholic Church at the Lambeth Conference of 2008, and at meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council.

As a dialogue partner Mark was meticulous and clear in his thinking, and had the extraordinary gift of finding common ground while honouring to the fullest his own Catholic position. So many of us remember his infectious sense of humour and often hilarious tales of life at the Vatican. He was always a convivial companion around a glass of wine or over dinner. 

In early January as he was moved to hospice care he wrote to friends, "I would ask for no fuss, or messages. I am a firm believer in the communion of saints, and it is your love and prayers that will sustain me most at this time." 

May God now receive him into the communion of the saints in light, and grant this faithful servant eternal rest. 

Thursday, 24 December 2020

A safe and joyful Christmas to all!

 

"Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem" by Kristoffer Trolle is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This extraordinarily difficult year is drawing to a close, a year marked by much loneliness, despair, suffering and death, due to the pandemic. But we have learned some lessons, including valuing what we have hitherto taken for granted, and appreciating with new awareness so many of the simple gifts which God provides. 

But the greatest gift is the one we celebrate in the Nativity 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'.  

So we celebrate God who is with us in the world, Emmanuel. Our response is a renewed love for all, and a new delight in the good things of this world which God provides for us.

To all the clergy and people of this Diocese in Europe, my thanks for your support and collaboration over this past year, and together with friends and readers of this blog I wish you a Christmas full of blessing. Wherever you are, I pray you will be able to celebrate this glorious feast safely and with joy.






 

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Interfaith declaration on the sanctity and dignity of all, celebrated in Westminster Abbey


Last Wednesday, an important interfaith declaration was launched, with signatures from faith leaders from over 50 countries around the world, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh. 

The Declaration calls for an end to violence and criminalisation against LGBT+ people and for a global ban on conversion therapy. The Church of England's General Synod in 2018 supported such a ban, as being an unethical, potentially harmful practice with "no place in the modern world". 

An interfaith service of prayer was held at Westminster Abbey to mark this important step. It was a dignified (and socially distanced) service, and perhaps fitting that the Abbey was already decorated for  Christmas, when Christians celebate the new life which was born into the world, calling us towards love for all our sisters and brothers. The service concluded at  the innocent victims memorial, just outside the West Door of the Abbey, a memorial to men, women and children who have suffered death, torture and oppression throughout the world. 


This is the interfaith text: 

Declaring The Sanctity Of Life And The Dignity Of All

We come together as senior religious leaders, academics, and lay leaders from around the world to affirm the sanctity of life and dignity of all.

We affirm that all human beings of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order.

We affirm that we are all equal under God, whom many call the Divine, and so we are all equal to one another.

We, therefore, call for all to be treated equally under the law.

We recognize with sadness that certain religious teachings have often, throughout the ages, caused and continue to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.

We acknowledge, with profound regret, that some of our teachings have created, and continue to create, oppressive systems that fuel intolerance, perpetuate injustice and result in violence. This has led, and continues to lead, to the rejection and alienation of many by their families, their religious groups and cultural communities.

We ask for forgiveness from those whose lives have been damaged and destroyed on the pretext of religious teaching.

We believe that love and compassion should be the basis of faith and that hatred can have no place in religion.

We call on all nations to put an end to criminalisation on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, for violence against LGBT+ people to be condemned and for justice to be done on their behalf.

We call for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – commonly known as “conversion therapy” – to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.

Finally, we call for an end to the perpetuation of prejudice and stigma and commit to work together to celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity


Information about the Declaration can be found here

Sunday, 13 December 2020

St John the Baptist, justice and discipleship

St John the Baptist, herald of justice

Advent for us in the northern hemisphere is at the time of the shortest days of the year. In the midst of the Advent darkness we have today's Gaudete Sunday, the title taken from the ancient introit, "Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near". The hint of promised joy which will pierce our darkness is seen as we light the third candle on the Advent wreath, which is normally pink, and with rose vestments at the mass instead of the more sombre purple. Today's Gospel features the great Advent figure, St John the Baptist. The writer of the Fourth Gospel proclaims, "He came as a witness to testify to the light". 

Last week on the agenda of the diocesan synod were some matters of justice: the care for God's creation and the renunciation of all forms of racism. We also were introduced to the Church of England-wide process, Living in Love and Faith, a comprehensive study of just about all aspects of human sexuality, but which also addresses matters of justice, as the dignity of all human beings regardless of sexuality, created in God's image and loved unconditionally by God, cannot be taken away. 

Justice is at the heart of our calling as disciples; the followers of Jesus Christ, living lives in pursuit of justice, is how we help to bring light into a darkened world. For that reason, I am grateful for the alternative collect for this Sunday: 

God for whom we watch and wait, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son: give us courage to speak the truth, to hunger for justice, and to suffer for the cause of right, with Jesus Christ our Lord.

I think I am correct that our congregation in Varese, in Northern Italy, is the only congregation in the diocese whose patron is the herald of justice, St John the Baptist. My last visit there was in the middle of October, squeezed in between two lockdowns. It is a community where both light and joy can be felt and where the candidates for confirmation were ready to take the light of Christ's justice into the world.  

Confirmations in St John the Baptist, Varese

 

Friday, 27 November 2020

Journey into Advent with Mark

 

St Mark, traditionally held to be the founder of the Church in Alexandria


Advent begins this Sunday. Our Director of Lay Discipleship, Dr Clare Amos, has been busy preparing some resources to help the faithful of the diocese to enter into the spirituality of this season. 

This Monday 30 November, 18.00 Central European Time (17.00 GMT), Clare will lead a reflection on the Gospel of Mark. This brief overview of the emphasis that Mark lays out in his Gospel, will be helpful for us as Mark is the Gospel we will be mostly be reading from on Sundays during this "Year B" of the Common Lectionary. 

Clare's reflections will be in the context of a brief liturgy called "A Service of Meditations for the Beginning of Advent". Clare is a Biblical scholar (among many other things) and a very engaging teacher. Do join us for this "Journey into Advent with Mark". The livestream is on the Diocesan YouTube channel:  

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGJClP-qZ1YGN_4CUhIqi4g


Clare also runs for us a blog with weekly lectionary reflections from a European perspective. The blog is entitled "Exploring Faith in Europe". It can be found here: https://faithineurope.net/. Take a look at this site. In her current post Clare tells us why she is excited about Mark's Gospel quoting theologian Chris Burdon: ‘In the end, there are two ways of dealing with the Gospel according to Mark: either we throw the book away and opt for a gentler religion, or we act on it and attempt to follow this man (Jesus) through glory and through terror.’ 

Tune in and join the excitement, and learn about the glory and terror, on 30 November!






Thursday, 26 November 2020

Happy Thanksgiving to the clergy and people of the Diocese who come from the USA

 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay 

Today we wish a very happy Thanksgiving to the many folk across the diocese in Europe who come from the USA. In that country it is a national holiday and a day of thanks, which may have its origin back to 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and members of the Wampanoag nation shared an autumn harvest feast, together enjoying the fruits of the earth. 

In our multinational/multicultural Diocese in Europe, we rejoice in the ministry, witness, generosity and support that so many from the United States bring to our common life. We also recognise that for many of our US friends and colleagues this year's holiday will be a difficult time. Some have endured months or more of separation from loved ones. Some have lost family or friends, or are worried about those close to them who are sick. Some are concerned for values of truth and justice in their homeland. So we pray with you, the prayer for this day in the Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church, USA:

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.