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.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Get ready for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

In only a couple of weeks we will mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will be held from 18th to 25 January 2010 (between the feasts of the Confession of St Peter and the Conversion of St Paul). Christians around the world will focus during that week on a theme based on Christ's final words before his Ascension, "You are witnesses of these things".

The 2010 theme was chosen by Scottish Churches who are also preparing to celebrate the centenary of the 1910 World Mission Conference on the theme "Witnessing to Christ today". The Edinburgh Conference of 1910 is regarded by historians as the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement. This year's theme which underlines the link between the missionary activity of the Church and the quest for Christian unity is vitally important. By our baptism we are already one Body and we are called to live in communion with each other. In fact God makes us brothers and sisters, in Christ. This is the fundamental witness that we are called to in our missionary activity.

A brochure with liturgical texts and background information based on the work of the Scottish ecumenical preparatory group has been jointly prepared and published by the (Roman Catholic) Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. It is available for download here.  (Resources are also available in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese).

As our diocese has a particular ecumenical vocation, I hope that many of our churches will be able to join in local activities during the week of prayer.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Istanbul: 2010 European Capital of Culture

Each year certain cities are designated by the European Union as European Capitals of Culture, to showcase the richness and diversity of European culture and to promote greater mutual knowledge and understanding among the citizens of our continent. In 2010, as well as two EU cities, Essen (Germany) and Pécs (Hungary), a city of a non-EU member country has been designated: Istanbul.

Istanbul is presenting itself as a bridge connecting Europe to the East, an example of the crossroads of civilizations where people have learned to “live differences”. Visitors to Istanbul as European Capital of Culture will want to know of our own Anglican presence in the City which dates from 1583. Church of England services are held at Christ Church, dedicated in 1868 as the Crimean Memorial Church, St Helena’s at the British Consulate General and the (Turkish language) Church of the Resurrection. The chaplain of Christ Church with St Helena's is the Revd Canon Ian Sherwood. The priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection is the Revd Engin Yildirim. For details consult the information on the Diocese in Europe website. The official Istanbul Capital of Culture website is here.

Pécs is promoting its location as a cultural gateway to the Balkans, and is, after Budapest, the second most important artistic community in Hungary. Essen is probably better known for its industrial past rather than a cultural centre. It is embracing this challenge head-on, with an emphasis on “transformation through culture”, showing how what was once the coal pit of Europe is now a dynamic multicultural metropolis. The Diocese in Europe has no congregations in Pécs or Essen.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A happy and blessed Christmas!

When peaceful silence lay over all, and night was in the midst of her swift course: from your royal throne, O God, down from the heavens, leapt your almighty Word.

I have always loved this beautiful, ancient antiphon for the Magnificat at Christmastime. It is based on Wisdom 18.14-15, and now,  happily, finds an official place in our Anglican liturgy in Common Worship: Daily Prayer. 

I wish a happy Christmas to readers of this blog. At this holy season may you find a moment of gentle, quiet stillness for the Incarnate Word to be received with joy. 

Monday, 21 December 2009

Friend of the Diocese in Europe to be the Roman Catholic Bishop of Saskatoon

I learned today that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed an old friend of mine, and a long-standing friend of the Anglican Communion and of our diocese in Europe, to be the Bishop of Saskatoon, Canada. Monsignor Donald Bolen was on the staff of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) from 2001 to 2008, with responsibility for Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue. Fr Don and I worked closely as co-secretaries of our official dialogue and collaborated on many other ecumenical occasions. He was present at my consecration as bishop in 2002.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the PCPCU greeted the news of Fr Don's appointment with “great joy and profound thankfulness” noting that Bolen’s strong faith in Christ, together with his vision and energy will equip him to lead his new flock in the diocese of Saskatoon.

For his service to relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded Fr Don the Cross of St Augustine in November 2008.

The clergy and people of All Saints Anglican Church in Rome know Fr Don well as he was a frequent visitor, and many members of our diocesan synod will have met him when the synod convened in Rome a few years back. We send Fr Don our warmest congratulations and prayers.

It's a start, but we're not done yet

COP 15 has ended without the fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement that millions around the world hoped the world leaders would deliver. Last Saturday, Elias Crisostomo Abramides, the World Council of Churches' head of delegation to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, summarised the disappointment of the Churches in the following letter. He points out in frank language the grave consequences of the lack of progress. The talks will be reconvened in Bonn early in 2010. Christians need to continue to pray for and support the ongoing process, so that what has been begun in Copenhagen will be strengthened and consolildated into a binding treaty.

In his letter, Mr Abramides, an Argentinian and a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, pays special tribute to the support from St Alban's Church, Copenhagen. Certainly the diocesan family would like to express our thanks to Fr Jonathan LLoyd and his team at St Alban's who have provided a solid, prayerful and spiritual presence, on behalf of our Church, during the summit.

Dear All,

Yesterday the World Council of Churches Statement to the Plenary wasvdelivered by Christian Friis Bach, International Director of DanChurchAid, at the traditional slot granted to the WCC by the UNFCCC. You can read the full text of the WCC statement to the Plenary at the following link:

We are already leaving Copenhagen with mixed feelings. On one hand, remembering the inspiring, clear and encouraging discourses that we heard from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Archbishop Rowan Williams and the decided perseverance of civil society for obtaining a just and equitable agreement.

On the other one, we are returning home displeased and with the certainty that, as a world leader said, "We have much further to go".

The proposed accord at the climate conference in Copenhagen is a frustration. After two weeks of negotiations by representatives of 193 countries, gathering more than 100 heads of state, the Copenhagen meeting has been another missed opportunity.

Wealthy developed countries have ignored the vast evidence, which says they need to cut domestic emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020 (1990 levels). The amount promised by developed countries to help poor countries to deal with the dire effects of climate change falls short of the real amount of resources needed.

Without an ambitious and legally binding agreement in the coming months, not vague promises, climate change will spell disaster for the nations least able to mitigate it. Coastal and island countries face a dreadful prospect of deceased and displaced people while Africa and Latin America already are dealing with drought and famine.

Lacking swift, significant and ambitious political will, adequate resources and aid commitments once more the world's poor and the Earth itself would be the big losers. At Mexico next November or perhaps earlier if world leaders reconsider the gravity of the times, the Ecumenical Family once more would be present pursuing our invariable aspiration of an equal, just, in solidarity and in love world.

Before concluding, let me recognise the work performed by the WCC Ecumenical Team and by all the members of the Ecumenical Family at COP15-CMP5. I would like to express our gratitude to our friends of the National Council of Churches in Denmark, DanChurchAid and St Alban´s Church community for their solidarity and constant support.

Thank you very much!

Praying and desiring but convinced in the need of acting to obtain a better and just world, I wish you all a holy and blessed Christmas.

With my warmest regards,
Lic. Elias Crisostomo Abramides
Head of Delegation
WCC Focal Point to the UNFCCC
Climate Change Programme
World Council of Churches

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Final Version of Anglican Communion Covenant is sent to the Churches

The final version of the Anglican Communion Covenant has now been prepared and in the past couple of days has been sent to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion for discussion.

The Covenant proposes a way for Anglican Churches to strengthen their relationship within our Communion. It sets out a principled and agreed method to deal with any inter-Anglican conflict. It is intended to build on that fundamental Anglican value of mutual accountability among Churches which seek to live a common life within the communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

As the Anglican Communion has developed in recent years there has not been a parallel development of a framework to address together a response to problems which arise in relationships between the member Churches. The Covenant puts forward such a framework, faithful to Anglican ecclesiology, within which a response to tensions can be discerned and articulated. At present, as no such mechanism exists, it has led to serious threats to the unity and integrity of the Communion.

The draft gives considerable prominence to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion which can make recommendations concerning the relational consequences resulting from actions by individual member Churches. It can make requests to Churches to defer certain actions, for instance. However, it will still be up to each member Church to decide how to be guided by any specific recommendations which may come from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, thereby respecting the treasured autonomy of the Provinces.

In his cover letter to the Primates and Provincial Secretaries of the member Churches, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, an assessment of the progress for adoption of the Covenant at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in 2012.

Our Church of England Diocese in Europe is often described as “the Anglican Communion in miniature”, due to the diversity of our jurisdiction which spans 44 countries and whose congregations bring together Anglicans from every background and continent. It is up to the General Synod of the Church of England, I believe, to decide how we will discuss and agree the latest draft of the Covenant, but Anglicans in our diocese may want to begin familiarising themselves with it now.

The recently agreed text of the Covenant is to be found here. The Archbishop of Canterbury has prepared a 4 minute YouTube message to introduce to us the purpose of the Covenant and the process from here on. The video can be seen here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

World Council of Churches Christmas Message

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has become very up to date in its communications strategy. The 2009 Christmas message to the Churches has been prepared as a video and posted on YouTube. It is available for viewing here.

The WCC brings together 349 churches in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians. It includes most of the world's Anglicans (including the Church of England), as well as most of the Old Catholic, Orthodox,  Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many Independent churches. The headquarters are in Geneva, within our diocese.

If you are not accustomed to YouTube, I post the text of the message here:
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation;
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created,
things visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers –
all things have been created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17 (NRSV)

Light is the radiant image of God’s goodness, in creation and at Christmas. The Creator commands, “Let there be light!” – and the universe takes form. At the nativity of Christ, light breaks forth in the midst of darkness – and the darkness can never overcome this glowing testament of the living God.
Christmas is a season to sing praises, yet in our time the reality of environmental destruction undermines the doxology of creation. The singing of the spheres is obscured by pollution and manufactured noise, the rhythms of the sea are disturbed by climate change, the beauty of many manifestations of life is disfigured by abusive practices rooted in greed. And as the earth suffers, so must its inhabitants. Already, the poor and other socially marginalized people find it ever more difficult to lift their voices in song.
In the days of Mary and Joseph, the emperor Augustus believed power rested in his hands alone. He decreed that “all the world” (the biblical word is oikoumene) should be taxed, and an obscure couple made their way toward Bethlehem. Yet God had another purpose in history, and now we realize that thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities were acting unwittingly in fulfillment of prophetic imperatives. It is Christ, not the emperor, who is truly “before all things, and in him all things hold together”.
Biblical scholar Barbara Rossing suggests that the old, imperial oikoumene of Caesar – along with modern economic, military and political empires – is perishing. Yet the prophets and apostles assure us that God’s creation – a true oikoumene comprising the household of God – will be transformed.
And so we pray for change and offer ourselves as instruments of transformation. We live in faith that, in the coming of Jesus Christ, there is a new creation in which the hope of the angels’ song comes to fruition – God, humanity and all of life shall be reconciled.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary
World Council of Churches (WCC)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Come and Meet! The Church in Gran Canaria goes to the people

Come and Meet! is part of the outreach initiative led by the Revd Peter Ford OGS, the priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Historically worship and Anglican community life has centred on the beautiful Holy Trinity Church which opened for worship in 1892. At that time the congregation was part of the diocese of Sierra Leone! It came under the jurisdiction of the Church of England in 1968. Holy Trinity Church is now recognised as an historic monument by the Government of the Canary Islands.

In the past 30 years tourist resorts have developed in the south of the island, over an hour away from Las Palmas by bus. Fr Peter, with the help of one or two lay volunteers, is extending the presence of the Church in two places in the south, Playa del Ingles, and Puerto Rico. The outreach programme includes:
  1. A weekly eucharist on Sunday evening in Playa del Ingles, using a Roman Catholic Chapel in an ecumenical worship centre. There is now a small congregation of regulars, supplemented by tourists.
  2. The commencement of occasional worship in Puerto Rico, using a local restaurant as a base. (There is not even a Roman Catholic Church building in Puerto Rico). The first service was a ‘Harvest Festival’ which brought together over 30 people for a unique service, which included not only hymns but a 3 course meal!
  3. A programme called ‘Come and Meet!’, in Playa del Ingles, and Puerto Rico. The priest and lay volunteer sit in a restaurant at set, advertised times each week, available as a presence to anyone who wishes to chat. The needs are varied, from practical support and assistance, to counselling those who are lonely and even overcome by feelings of suicide.
Doing his weekly rounds in his "dog collar" in this largely unchurched area of mass tourism, Fr Peter encounters many who have come for sunshine and beaches, but who are desperate for deeper human contact and spiritual fulfilment. His ministry extends to befriending and caring for the many bar owners, restauranteurs and others who work in the frantic life of the tourist industry. It is pioneering and demanding work.

I believe that Gran Canaris is the southernmost parish in the Diocese in Europe, (although Tenerife South might claim this also). Fr Peter has been working on a new website for Gran Canaria which can be found here.

Church of England Podcast Features Diocese in Europe

I have just discovered that the featured Church of England podcast this week is about our diocese. The Revd Paul Needle, our Diocesan Communications Officer presents the 3 minute audio clip which features yours truly and our Diocesan Environmental Officer, Brian Morgan. The topic is the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Tune in to the podcast here. Excellent coverage and exposure for our diocese. Thanks Paul!

Copenhagen's streets and squares are full of art related the theme of COP 15, like the planet earth above. The picture below is of Fr Jonathan LLoyd with part of his Franciscan Team at St Alban's, Sister Joyce CSF, Brother Hugh SSF and Brother Wilfred SSF.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Ecumenical Celebration for Creation

On Sunday afternoon in Copenhagen's Lutheran Cathedral (dedicated to Our Lady) an ecumenical service for creation was held. Queen  Margrethe II of Denmark attended along with the Danish Prime Minister and government ministers and officials from several countries. Among the ecumenical guests were the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Sam Kobia, and his successor the Olav Fykse Tveit, as well as dozens of bishops and ecumenical leaders from around the world. Archbishop Desmond Tutu read the opening Psalm136 and gave the final blessing (in Xhosa). Prayers were said with focal images of coral from the Pacific Ocean, maize from Africa and uncovered glacier stone fron Greenland. Songs were sung in English, Zulu, Danish and Greenlandic.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was the preacher. His sermon on the text "perfect love casts out fear" drew applause from the Cathedral, packed with over 1000 worshippers. Outside in the square several hundred more watched the service on a large screen. The Archbishop challenged the decision makers at the Climate Summit: "There is, in a word, no shortage of excellent excuses for turning away from decisions that will mean real change. But at least let's be honest about where they come from: it is fear. And so long as that dominates our calculations, we are stepping back from love - love for the creation itself, love for one another, and for the generations still unborn". Archbishop Rowan emphasised that we met as people of faith in the context of this critical moment in human history; and not simply gathered to plead or harangue, but to say two simple things to ourselves, our neighbours and our governments.  "First: don't be afraid; how do we show that we love God's creation?...Second: how [do we} learn to trust one another within a world of limited resources. In such a world there can be no trust without justice, without the assurance of knowing that my neighbour is there for me when I face insecurity or risk".

The Cathedral bells began to ring 350 times at the end of the service and candles were lit and held by everyone and carried out into the world symbolising our hope and trust in the Lord, who is Light and Life.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

With Archbishop Rowan in Copenhagen

After an already busy day which included addressing Christians gathered for a march to the Bella Centre where the UN negotiations are being held, extensive discussions with the Danish Bishops on the role of the Church in our societies, and many press interviews, the Archbishop gave an moving address at the Trinitas Church in central Copenhagen at an evening prayer service attended by students, Church leaders, academics, activists and even some politicians. He spoke of the covenant which God has established, not just with the human race, but with life itself, drawing on the story of Noah. The Archbishop then invited a dialogue with members of the congregation who asked some quite profound questions. In responding the Archbishop spoke of his own faith, his belief in miracles (and perhaps one is needed at COP 15), but also his belief that whether or not a miracle happens, we are called to be faithful. He drew attention to the remarkable fact that on the issue of climate justice people of all faiths are united, because all people are potentially affected. So this is a major area for interfaith collaboration. But one of the more searching questions drew out the connection between the Church's option for the poor, and the option for the earth. "These are one", said the Archbishop. "The poorest of the earth suffer most from environmental degradation, therefore it is not two questions but one".

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Church of Denmark agrees to sign the Porvoo Agreement

My arrival in Copenhagen coincided with the news that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) has decided to join the Porvoo Communion of Churches. A press release from the Church of Denmark has gone to all the constituencies of that Church and to the general public in Denmark, announcing this landmark decision by the state Church. Arrangements for the public signing of the Porvoo Declaration are still to be settled. The ELCD was a full participant in the theological discussions leading to the Porvoo Common Statement in the 1990s, but in the end did not sign the agreement, so the news today is a major ecumenical breakthrough. Once signed the agreement will extend the Porvoo Communion of Churches to embrace the 12 dioceses and over 2000 parishes in Denmark.

A day in Copenhagen.

Dateline Copenhagen: I spent a couple of hours today, before Archbishop Rowan arrives, at the Klimaforum09, the "Peoples' Climate Summit", an open space where movements and organisations from all over the world are meeting to discuss and develop grass roots responses to the climate crisis, while the official deliberations go on in another part of the city. There is a fascinating range of over 50 exhibits from vulnerable parts of the world such as the Maldives, to demonstrations of ecologically sound housing to networks of indigenous peoples. Talks, debates and presentations on various topics abound, as well as a range of cultural perfomances - music, drama and film - from around the world. I would guess that the average age of visitors to Klimaforum09 was somewhere in the mid-20s. One of the central outcomes of Klimaforum09 will be a "global climate declaration" expressing the hopes and vision of citizen groups and social movements from every part of the planet. The picture above is of two young women from Swedish Lapland. Like all people living in Sub-Arctic regions, they are already noticing the effects of rapid climate change.
Earlier in the day I presided at the mid-day Eucharist in St Alban's Church, at which Ursula Sonnewald, a parishioner from Trondheim, was confirmed. Ursula and her priest, the Revd Mary Strommen, journeyed down from Western Norway for this service.

The prayer team at St Alban's Church seems to be well into their rhythm of providing hospitality and spiritual nourishment to visitors during the period of COP 15. The team includes 3 Anglican Franscican Brothers and one Sister, as well as other clergy and laity, and is headed by the Chaplain of St Alban's the Revd Jonathan LLoyd. One of the Franciscans remarked that Copenhagen has become a place of pilgrimage: the world is travelling here: politicians, scientists, lobbyists, NGOs, movements and just "ordinary" people. The close of the day included Evening Prayer with about 20 in attendance. The service was followed by a spiritual talk by Brother Clark SSF, the Minister General of the Society of St Francis. Brother Clark has a blog which is worth a visit.

St Alban's, like many Churches and other places around the city, has a focus for prayer and meditation which is very symbolic: rock from Greenland, coral from the Pacific, and corn, the staple crop of many indigenous and other peoples.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Remember - Sunday 13 December: Let the Bells Ring 350 Times!

On Sunday 13 December at 3 pm Denmark time - at the height of the climate talks in Copenhagen - the churches in Denmark will ring their bells. Christians everywhere are invited to join them by sounding their own bells (drums, gongs, horns, shells etc...) 350 times.

Why 350 times?
350 refers to 350 parts per million: This is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere according to many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 ppm of CO2, but now the concentration stands at 390 ppm. Unless we are able to rapidly reduce CO2 levels again, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

Join in this symbolic world-wide action on 13 December!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Archbishop Rowan: Learn to Love the World We're In

As many readers of this blog know, Archbishop Rowan Williams travels to Copenhagen this weekend for engagements related to the UN climate summit. Archbishop Rowan is emphatic that Christianity and religion in general has much to say about this great issue. On BBC Radio 2 yesterday he said: “We're getting ready for Christmas and it's worth remembering that one of the things we celebrate at Christmas is God taking an interest in the real material stuff of this Earth, the flesh and blood, and all the things that keep flesh and blood secure – food and shelter and so on. It would be pretty peculiar if we took the world less seriously than God does.” The Archbishop suggested that we could all “scale down our extravagant use of energy and the amount of waste we produce – that’s certainly a challenge at Christmas!”. Part of the message we are sure to hear in Copenhagen from the Archbishop is that change would only come “if we learn to love the world we’re in”.

Fr Jonathan LLoyd and his team at St Alban's Copenhagen have a full weekend planned. I have posted this information below (follow "Read More") so that you can keep these events, the Archbishop's visit, and the summit conversations in your prayers.

December 2009 Book Selection

Here is December's book selection. The reviews are written by Dr Martin Davie, the Theological Secretary to the Bishops of the Church of England. They will be of interest to all who wish to keep up with current theology, including the clergy and Readers (lay ministers) of the Diocese in Europe. 9 reviews are below. Just click on the read more link.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Funeral and Bereavement Ministry Workshop

This is a reminder to Readers and Readers-in-training in the diocese of the upcoming workshop on Funeral Liturgy and Bereavement Ministry. It will be held from 4pm on 24 February until after lunch on 26 February 2010 at the Casa Diocesana de Espiritualidad, Málaga, Spain. The speakers will include the Revd Peter Moger, the Church of England's National Worship Development Officer, and the Revd Canon Hugh Broad, Priest-in-Charge of Costa Almería / Costa Cálida and Area Dean of Gibraltar.

Practical, liturgical and pastoral training will be given for the funeral service itself. It will also be a time of theological reflection on the profound questions about the meaning of life, death and resurrection in Christian belief.

The cost will be in the region of 110 Euros. The workshop is especially geared for Readers who conduct funerals or Readers-in-Training who may do so in future. The Casa Diocesana is a short taxi ride from Málaga airport.

Licensed Readers are able to apply for financial support from the funds held for Continuing Ministerial Development. Readers-in-Training are encouraged to approach their parish clergy to see whether funding support can be arranged locally. Registration forms have already been sent to Readers and Readers-in-Training, but if you have misplaced yours and wish to attend, please contact the Ministry Team Administrator Margaret Jeffery. Margaret's e-mail:

Friday, 4 December 2009

Buddhist Monks Visit St Paul's Monaco

St Paul's Monaco helped to host a group of 5 Tibetan Buddhist monks who were visiting the Principality over the weekend  of 27-29 November. The monks joined the congregation of St Paul's at the 10:30 Service on Sunday 29th.

I found it particularly encouraging to learn of this interfaith outreach by St Paul's. At last September's Pastoral Conference for the clergy the theme of hospitality as mission was central. We learned that a gesture of hospitality to people of other faiths is not about concealing our convictions or watering them down. It is a way of expressing them in a practical way, demonstrating the welcoming generosity which is at the very heart of God.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Anglican Communion Appoints New Director for Unity, Faith and Order

The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan has been appointed Director for Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office. (The position was formerly known as Director of Ecumenical Affairs. Alyson's predecessor was Canon Gregory Cameron who is now Bishop of St Asaph in the Church in Wales. I was Gregory's predecessor). Alyson is pictured on the right of the picture above, alongside Dame Mary Tanner. We were together in Rome for some recent meetings with Vatican officials.

Alyson is a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, where she was Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry. She has wide experience of the Anglican Communion, having worked on the Lambeth Commission on Communion, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission, as well as the Faith and Order Plenary Commission of the World Council of Churches. She is married to Bruce, who is also a priest, and they have three grown children.

Although this is an Anglican Communion and not a C of E appointment, we in the Diocese in Europe will follow Alyson's ecumenical work with interest, since in our context relations with Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Orthodox are part of our daily bread. One of Alyson's first tasks is staffing the first meeting of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order - IASCUFO. (Anglican acronyms are becoming very strange!) The Archbishop of Canterbury is hosting a dinner tonight in Lambeth Palace to mark the inauguration of the new Commission.

We welcome Alyson to this side of the Atlantic and wish her every blessing in her new ministry. I hope that in her ecumenical work she may come to know a wide range of the clergy and people of our diocese in the years to come.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury - World AIDS Day Video

Today, 1 December, is World AIDS day, and the diocesan prayer diary asks that we pray for those living with HIV/AIDS. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released a video on YouTube, in which he speaks with the Revd Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother from Kenya, about her experiences of living with HIV. The video highlights the plight of expectant mothers who are HIV positive and the support they need to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies. Despite the tragic subject matter, the video is a message of hope. Our Archbishop speaks of the Church's call to "provide space for people to face themselves, to be themselves, and to cope with their future", and to "encourage all our governments to keep up their commitment to making ... medical help available".

I encourage you to view this short, but inspiring YouTube video.

Monday, 30 November 2009

New Bishop of Porvoo Consecrated

Björn Vikström was consecrated Bishop of Porvoo in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland on Sunday 29 November. (He is on the right in the picture, with the Archbishop of Turku, Jukka Paarma, on the left). Porvoo is the diocese for Swedish-speaking parishes throughout Finland. The Archbishop of Turku presided in Swedish at the service in Porvoo Cathedral, which included portions of scripture read in Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and English. I was invited to be a co-consecator along with bishops from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The chaplain of the Anglican Church in Finland, the Revd Rupert Moreton, was also an invited guest.

Bishop Vikström, 46, comes from an academic career, formerly a researcher at Åbo Akademi, the Swedish-language University of Turku. His subjects include sustainable development and environmental ethics, a useful field given the challenges before us. He was ordained priest in 1988.

The Vikström family is well known in Porvoo. Bishop Björn's father, John Vikström, was a previous Bishop of Porvoo from 1970 to 1982 when he was elected Archbishop of Turku and Finland. He was succeeded by his brother Erik Vikström (Björn's uncle) who was Bishop of Porvoo 1983 to 2006.

Porvoo Cathedral has a unique place in Finnish history. In this ancient building exactly 200 years ago this year, Tsar Alexander I assembled the four Estates of Finland (nobles, clergy, burghers and peasants) who pledged allegience to him as the Grand Duke of Finland, ending 700 years of Swedish rule in the country. Alexander ratified the continuance of the Finnish Lutheran Church as well as the basic laws of the land. This was a key event in Finland's national development.

We pray God's blessings on Bishop Björn as he takes up his new responsibilities.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

"Church and Earth" - The Church of England's 7 Year Plan on Climate Change

I have posted several articles to do with the environment over the past several months, and there are sure to be more to come. Initiatives and programmes are growing in number to help Christians engage with our calling to be good stewards of the planet. The Church of England has just published a report entitled Church and EarthIt is a statement of the our Church's beliefs, activities and ambitions relating to climate change and environmental action over the next seven years. It is part of the global effort to tackle climate change and associated environmental challenges.

The commitments in the report include:
  • Carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020
  • Annual carbon and energy reports for all parishes and dioceses by 2016
  • All church buildings to have carbon footprints calculated and recommendations made by 2012
  • Advice for all parishes on choosing green energy tariffs by 2010
  • Tree-planting to be encouraged on church land
  • ‘Eco-twinning’ between UK and developing world parishes, faced with early effects of climate change
  •  New Climate Justice Fund offering aid to churches in the developing world
  • All dioceses to target Fair Trade status before 2016
On 16 November, at the Church Centre for the United Nations in New York City, Lois M. Dauway, a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee challenged Christian Churches to embrace the task of addressing climate change. She proposed the "Nike School of Theology", referring to the well-known manufacturer of sports shoes. Nike's brand slogan sums up what the Church is called to do: it is time for action, "Just do it, just do it!"

In the Diocese in Europe we all have work to do!  There are many suggestions in the Church and Earth report that can be followed up in our own congregations. A summary of the Church and Earth report can be found here.

Friday, 27 November 2009

St Alban’s Copenhagen - a Spiritual Presence at the Climate Summit

St Alban's Copenhagen will be open every day during the UN Climate Summit, COP15, to provide a place of welcome, hospitality, prayer, stillness and engagement with the issues. The Revd Jonathan LLoyd has invited a team of Franciscan brothers, a Franciscan sister and Anglican clergy to be based at the Church during the summit, to meet and welcome visitors, and to be a spiritual and praying presence in the heart of the Danish capital during this important international gathering which runs from 7 - 18 December.

In addition to Fr Jonathan, the Chaplain of St Alban's, the core members of the team are:
Brother Clark Berge SSF (San Francisco, Minister General SSF, pictured above)
Brother Colin Wilfred SSF (Canterbury)
Sister Joyce CSF (London, Minister General CSF)
Brother Hugh SSF (Hilfield, Dorset)
The Revd Tony Rutherford (Kent)

Complementing the work of the team will be two experienced cousellors who will be available as confidential listeners, Leslie-Ann Calliste and Janet Rutherford. Members of St Alban's Church itself will assist with the work of the team during the summit.

During the summit the church will be open every day between 0815 and 1930. The hospitality on offer will include coffee, wireless broadband connection, toilets, stillness and prayer, maps, advice, conversation and a place to warm up and dry off!

The weekday programme will be:

0830 Morning Prayer
1200 Holy Eucharist
1700 Music
1730 Evening Prayer
1800 “A Time for Climate Justice” – an open seminar about an aspect of COP15, followed by discussion
1900 Coffee
2100 Compline at The Swedish Church (next to Osterport Station – only 10 minute walk from St Alban’s)

The Church will also be a meeting place for campaigners from the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN), the World Council of Churches, Christian Aid, TearFund, Operation Noah, Arocha, CAFOD and other faith organisations and churches from across the world, providing a hub for networking, sharing stories, and making new friends.

Some special events organised by St Alban's include a quiet Evening Service/Vespers at Trinity Church on Saturday 12 December at 1800, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will give a reflection. Dr Williams will also preside and preach at the Parish Eucharist at St Alban’s Church on Sunday 13 December at 1000.

The St Alban’s COP15 Chaplaincy Team can be contacted on [+45] 29 79 40 36. The address of the Church is Churchill Parken 6, Langelinie, DK 1263 Copenhagen

St Alban's has a webpage focussing on their COP 15 programme here. I have prepared an official press release about the St Alban's programme for the diocesan website here.

Christian Aid's prayer for the climate change negotiations

Christ our Lord, when we remember the sacrifice you made for the world, remind us that we are called to care for the world and its people, and challenge us to see how our actions change the world. Be with us as we act to make a difference.

Christ, whom we remember in the bread, remind us of those who are hungry, and challenge to us to see how our actions change the world. Christ, whom we remember in the wine, remind us of those who are thirsty, and challenge us to see how our actions change the world.

Christ, as we remember your perfect sacrifice, inspire us to follow your example and to work with you to restore a broken world. Motivate us to take action, and grant wisdom and courage to the world's leaders that they can negotiate a fair deal for the world's poor in Copenhagen. Remind us that you are with us, and that when we live lives of service, we live them in your name. Amen.

Swine Flu Update

Bishop Geoffrey and I have issued fresh guidance to the Diocese in Europe pertaining to swine flu:

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to the bishops of the Church of England with an update on swine flu. The information pertains specifically to England, of course, as it is based on recent consultation with the UK Department of Health. In short the Archbishops are now advising that in England the normal administration of Holy Communion ought to resume.

In congregations of our Diocese in Europe, unless there is a specific health advisory in force from local or national authorities, the Archbishops' advice should be followed and the normal practice of administration of Holy Communion in both kinds resumed where this has been suspended.

The letter from the Archbishops is below:

Dear Bishop,
In July,during the first wave of the Swine Flu pandemic we issued national advice with regard to the administration of Holy Communion.

This advice was based on information and guidance received from the Department of Health which was geared to the situation at that time and the projected levels of risk suggested by the potential course of the pandemic. Since then the scientific understanding of the Swine Flu virus has advanced, further experience of the course of the epidemic has been gained, and the first stage of a vaccination programme, targeted at those most at risk from the virus, is nearing completion.

Throughout this period, our advice has been driven by the interests of public health, particularly for the protection of the vulnerable.

In the light of continuing consultation with the Department of Health, and with updated information on the course of the Swine Flu pandemic, we believe that we can now advise that the normal administration of Holy Communion ought to resume. This recommendation is subject to the guidelines issued in June ( which set out good hygiene practice for public worship and which allows for local discretion in the event of outbreaks of pandemic flu in particular centres of population. We shall also continue to monitor the situation.

We wish to thank you for your patience and cooperation during this challenging period for both Church and Community. We are thankful that the pandemic has so far proved less severe than was feared.

Please pass this on to your colleagues in the diocese.

With every blessing,

+Rowan Cantuar                      +Sentamu Ebor

(The official announcement from Bishop Geoffrey and me can be found on the diocesan website.)

Church of England Online Advent Calendar Launched

The Church of England has launched an online Advent Calendar, with a special introductory message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at  In the launch videocast Archbishop Tutu says: “Care for our world, it is the only one we have.” He is joined by UK International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander and the Archbishop of York who deliver their own Advent challenges.

Upcoming features in the days of Advent will include the Archbishop of Canterbury reflecting on the Copenhagen Summit, the Eden Project calling for mud between our toes and the Chief Rabbi suggesting some ‘Sabbath moments’. Daily Bible passages and prayers accompany the lifestyle challenges and stories from across the Church of England and beyond. 17 December will be special for the Diocese in Europe when our parish of the Aquitaine will be featured. The calendar closes on Christmas Eve with a seasonal reflection from theologian Dr Paula Gooder.

Why not take 5 minutes each day this Advent, and follow the ‘tread gently’ challenges and video stories behind each door in the online calendar. No, it's not chocolate, but it will be nourishing for the soul this Advent. For more information go to

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Anglican-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Relations Move Forward

The annual “Informal Talks” between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion were held on 25 November at the Anglican Centre in Rome. The delegations were headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper (left) and Canon Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. I participate in the informal talks as spokesperson for the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Mission and Unity, IARCCUM, along with my Roman Catholic colleague, the Most Revd John Bathersby, the Archbishop of Brisbane. The meetings are in camera but we decided to make public, in the form of a press release, one very important announcement, which I attach below.

The press release is important, not only for its content; it also signals how the dialogue at the highest level between our Churches is continuing, with an agreed mandate and agenda. So official Anglican-Roman Catholic relations are on very solid ground, despite any awkward feelings resulting from the Vatican's announcement of the Apostolic Constitition Anglicanorum ceotibus.

Anglicans in the Diocese in Europe have very cordial relations with the Roman Catholic Church. In many places these warm relations are vital to our church's life where we receive the hospitality of Roman Catholic bishops and the use of their buildings. We therefore welcome this strong affirmation of our continuing pilgrimage towards the unity which is Christ’s will. The press release is as follows:

Following the meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at the Vatican on 21 November 2009, at which they reaffirmed their desire to strengthen ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, a preparatory committee met on 23 November 2009 to prepare the third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). It has been decided that the phase will begin within the coming year.
This third phase will deal with fundamental questions regarding the Church as Communion – Local and Universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching.
Over the coming months members will be nominated to the Commission, and a date for its first meeting will be announced.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Preaching Workshop

The Diocese in Europe Director of Training, the Revd Ulla Monberg, recently organised a conference for Readers and those training to be Readers from across the diocese. The event was held at St Columba's House, Woking, from 18 to 20 November.

The conference focussed on the ministry of preaching and the speakers included the Revd Canon Mark Oakley, the priest-in-charge of the Grosvenor Chapel and formerly the Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, and the Revd William Gulliford, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands. The conference focussed on theological and practical aspects of the ministry of preaching and teaching. I gave a lecture on divine revelation, the Christian doctrine of how God communicates with his people.

16 participants came from France, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. As often happens at meetings in our diocese, the participants also valued the opportunity to time spent together in worship and fellowship, and took steps to keep in touch with each other for ongoing encouragement in their rministry when they return to their local churches.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Anglican-Roman Catholic Relations

On Saturday Archbishop Rowan Williams had a brief visit with Pope Benedict XVI. The official Vatican statement following the visit states:
This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in private audience His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. In the course of the cordial discussions attention turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and to the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges. The discussions also focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, reiterating the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, and recalling how, over coming days, the commission entrusted with preparing the third phase of international theological dialogue between the parties (ARCIC) is due to meet.
The "recent events" of course refers to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum ceotibus, the controversial legal provision for Anglicans to enter into the Roman Catholic Church while keeping elements of their own identity. It is important in the light of some awkward feelings, particularly about the way the news of the Apostolic Constitution was handled, that the Pope and Archbishop restated their intent to continue and consolidate the ecumenical relations between our Churches and drew attention to the preparatory work presently under way for the next phase of the ARCIC official dialogue.

I will be in Rome this week for the Informal Talks between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion. These annual, official, in camera conversations cover our shared agenda as Churches, including our formal ecumenical instruments, ARCIC (the theological dialogue) and IARCCUM (the commission on mission and unity) and other aspects of our joint international relations. The recent private conversations between His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury appear to have set the tone for fruitful working meetings this week.

Incidentally, some have noted the significance that the gift His Holiness chose to give to the Archbishop on Saturday was a gold bishop's pectoral cross.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

2010: Year of European Churches Responding to Migration

European Churches are being invited to observe 2010 as "The Year of European Churches Responding to Migration". The year long programme will be launched in Budapest on 25-27 November.

The aim is to make visible the churches’ commitment to strangers, in response to the message of the Bible which insists on the dignity of every human being. It calls the churches to promote an inclusive policy at European and national level for migrants, refugees and ethnic minority groups.

A calendar of events is in preparation with focus-themes for each month. International days around migration and religious and intercultural festive days are being organised. Local congregations are invited to identify major issues around migration in their region and to organize activities related to the themes of the calendar and to share their activities with each other. A special website gives more details.

The President of the Conference of European Churches, the Revd Dr Jean-Arnold de Clermont, says “Migration is at the heart of the churches’ agenda in Europe”.  As we ourselves are largely a "diaspora diocese" many of the congregations in the Diocese in Europe already work with and for migrants. This year gives a chance for increase the visibility of this work and to strengthen and enhance our commitment to migrants, refugees and ethnic minority people in Europe. It will be an excellent way to follow up on our 2009 Pastoral Conference "Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission", where we explored our calling as Christians and churches, obliged and invited to "welcome the stranger".

Thursday, 19 November 2009

November Book Reviews

Here is November's book selection. The reviews are written by Dr Martin Davie, the Theological Secretary to the Bishops of the Church of England. They will be of interest to all who wish to keep up with current theology, including the clergy and Readers (lay ministers) of the Diocese in Europe. 7 reviews are below. Just click on the read more link.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Administrator or Pastor: One Bishop's View

Our insurance agents require a summary of travel within the diocese each year to determine if they are providing adequate cover. So I just completed a quick tally: by the end of 2009 I will have spent 133 days in the territory of the diocese itself. What's involved in these days? The majority of the time is spent preaching, teaching, presiding at liturgies, attending meetings and synods, ecumenical commitments and conversations, and engaging in pastoral work with clergy and laity.

When I am in my London office it is normal to spend on average 8 hours a week on the telephone, mostly pastoral conversations with clergy and laity, as well as about 8 - 10 hours each week in face to face meetings, consultations and interviews. I try to schedule one day every week just for reading, study, and writing. Most correspondence I receive is related to pastoral or mission concerns of the congregations or with ministry matters pertaining to clergy, readers, postulants and those in training. Each week I am in London there is at least one ecumenical or other wider-church engagement that requires my attendance. For instance this past week was the visit of the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, along with his bishop for Germany and several clergy, as well as a lunch and meeting with the Lord Mayor of Westminster at which we discussed how local governments might be more active in supporting church buildings! Of course, prayer (apart from public services) takes about 4-5 hours a week, which is likely not enough.

Deacon Frances Hiller my chaplain, an indefatigable multi-tasker, answers a huge amount of correspondence and manages many telephone enquiries on my behalf, and is herself engaged in many pastoral conversations. In between this she squeezes in time to track my expenses for the Church Commissioners, and make arrangements for parish visits as well as general diary management.

As for "administration" I likely spend less than one hour each week signing cheques, Permissions to Officiate, faculties or on other official but essential items of paperwork. So, whence the myth that bishops are caught up in administration, that is what I would like to know?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

New Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity Corfu

On 16 November, the Revd John Gulland was licensed as the new Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity Corfu. Archdeacon Patrick Curran presided at the service at which John and his wife Mary were formally welcomed to the parish. John comes to the Diocese in Europe from the diocese of Sodor and Man. The Isle of Man is approximately the same geographical size as Corfu, but has 28 parishes and about 20 licensed priests for a population of about 80,000. In contrast, the English-speaking population on Corfu is estimated to be around 10,000, with one Anglican priest to serve them! John will be assisted by a reader-in-training, Jackie Dalllos, who is also nurturing a small daughter congregation on Lefkada, and by Bill Cross, a Methodist lay preacher, who has permission to officiate in the parish, under the provisions of the ecumenical canons of the Church of England.  The photo was taken at the recent Archdeaconry Synod in Izmir which John attended with his parish representatives Mrs Anne Giannouka and Mrs Lorraine Tombros. We warmly welcome the Revd John Gulland and his wife Mary to the Diocese in Europe.

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Monday, 16 November 2009

Women in the Episcopate: Press Release and Information

The Church of England Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate has released a statement which I post to help keep the people of this Diocese in Europe up to date. What is clear is that the Committee, in seeking to accommodate those who will not be able to accept women bishops, has ruled out (at present) these possible options:
(a) the setting up of a separate Province
(b) the setting up of separate dioceses
(c) the establishment of some sort of special society within the the Church of England, rather along the lines of a religious order
(d) the vesting in law of the authority given to those bishops charged with oversight of clergy and parishes who cannot accept ministry of a woman bishop.

Their statement hints at the options that are left. I also append some questions and answers which were prepared for communications purposes. Click read more for the statement and appendix...

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Patriarch Pavle of Serbia Dies

Patriarch Pavle, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, died today, Sunday 15 November, after a long illness. He was 95. Patriarch Pavle led the Church through its recovery after the fall of communism and during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s called for peace and reconciliation.
The announcement from the Serbian Church stated simply: "Sunday November 15, 2009, at 10.45 at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade, after receiving the Sacrament, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac, Patriarch Pavle of Serbia reposed in the Lord".

Our priest-in-charge of St Mary's Belgrade, the Revd Robin Fox, is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarios (personal representative) to the Serbian Patriarchate. Fr Fox informs us that the Serbian government has declared Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week as national days of mourning. It is likely that the funeral will be this Thursday in the Rakovica monastery in Belgrade. Patriarch Pavle gave strong personal support to the Anglican community in Belgrade. His friendship to our Church is beautifully symbolised by his permission to St Mary's Anglican congregation to celebrate Christmas Eve midnight mass in the chapel in the Patriarchate itself.

There are over 7 milion members of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Its Holy Synod will be responsible for choosing a successor to the Patriarch, normally after 40 days of official mourning.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with the saints: where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Interfaith Statement on Climate Change

On 29 October, the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a meeting of faith communities to raise awareness of the effects of catastrophic climate change on the world's poor, as part of the preparations for the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. Participants came from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Bahá'í, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths. I share the statement below for the prayerful attention of the people of the Diocese in Europe.

As leaders and representatives of faith communities and faith-based organisations in the UK we wish to highlight the very real threat to the world's poor, and to our fragile creation, from the threat of catastrophic climate change. The developed world is primarily responsible for the already visible effects of global heating. Justice requires that we now take responsibility for slowing the rise in global temperature. We call upon UK negotiators at Copenhagen, and the other nations of the G20 in particular, to fight for a deal which speedily

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Ring Your Bells on 13 December

Christians across Europe and around the world are joining in a symbolic action on Sunday 13 December. On that Sunday, midway through the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen, at 1500 hours (3 pm ) local time churches are invited to ring their bells (or sound their drums or any other instruments they use) 350 times. (350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to current scientific estimates).

Also on 13 December, participants at the UN conference have been invited to pray alongside the Danish Queen and church leaders from around the world in an ecumenical celebration at Copenhagen's Lutheran Cathedral. Archbishop Rowan Williams will be the preacher. The service will be broadcast live on Danish television and on the website of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. You are invited to join in these prayers in your own way, uniting with Christians around the world in supporting those who are to make decisions in Copenhagen, which will affect our lives and the life of our planet.

The Revd Jonathan LLoyd, the chaplain of our parish of St Alban's Copenhagen, is bringing together a team of Franciscan brothers and sisters who will be a praying presence at St Alban's throughout the days of the summit. I will be privileged to be in Copenhagen as part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's suite.

A joint letter to European Christians from the Conference of European Churches and the (Roman Catholic) Council of European Bishops' Conferences, promoting this initiative, can be found here. An announcement with more information can also be found on our diocesan website

Assisting Leaders of New and Growing Congregations

On 2 and 3 November, clergy, readers, readers in training from came together for a 2 day seminar to share experiences and explore together themes related to developing congregational life.  The group came from 8 places in the diocese where new congregations are coming into being, or where long-standing congregations face new growth challenges. The common factor was that these congregations rely for leadership either on a new ordinand or on a lay leader, without the benefit of a supervising senior priest close by or even the proximity of an existing and established congregation. One participant was a postulant for Holy Orders, who is in an odd circumstance: exploring a vocation, but virtually no Anglican community for several hundred kilometres!

The participants were able to raise and discuss together a wide range of issues that congregations in our diocese face as they go through key moments of development and growth. The issues range from synodical and constitutional matters (how to arrange the first Annual General Meeting, for instance) to ecclesiological and missiological matters such as Anglican identity and ecumenical hospitality, nurturing volunteer commitment and stewardship.

Assisting me at the seminar was the Director of Training, the Revd Ulla Monberg, and the Diocesan Secretary, Mr Adrian Mumford. The Revd Ken Dimmick, priest-in-charge of St Catherine's Stuttgart, was our principal resource person.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

New Bishop of Stockholm Consecrated (Church of Sweden)

The Church of Sweden is in the news again this week. On 22 October, the General Synod of the Church of Sweden approved the possibility of conducting same-sex marriages. This past Sunday 8 November a new Bishop of Stockholm was consecrated: the Rt Revd Eva Brunne. It is reported that Bishop Brunne is the first openly lesbian bishop in the world, as she is in a registered (and blessed) civil partnership with another woman.

Also consecrated at the same service in the Cathedral in Uppsala was the new Bishop of Härnösand (a diocese in northern Sweden), the Rt Revd Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund. Pictured above from left to right: Bishop Brunne, Archbishop of Uppsala Anders Wejryd, Bishop Bylund.

There were no Anglican bishops at the consecration of Bishop Brunne. The Area Dean of the Nordic and Baltic States of the Diocese in Europe, the Revd Nicholas Howe, will be one of the ecumenical guests at a later reception in her honour. The 4 Anglican Churches in Britain and Ireland and 6 Lutheran Churches in the Nordic and Baltic region (Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Lithuania) are in a relationship of communion established by the Porvoo Agreement.

Old Catholic Bishop for Germany Elected

At a synod on 6 and 7 November in Mannheim, the Old Catholic Church in Germany elected a new bishop, the Revd Dr Matthias Ring. Dr Ring is a leading Old Catholic theologian, (co-chairman of the International Old Catholic Conference of Theologians), editor of the journal of the German diocese and engaged in interreligious dialogue. He is presently a priest in Regensburg.

The Old Catholic Diocese in Germany was formed after opponents to the Vatican I (1870) declarations on the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Pope were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church. Today it has over 25,000 members in 45 parishes, served by 86 priests and 12 deacons.

Dr Ring will succeed the Rt Revd Joachim Vobbe. The consecration is planned for 20 March 2010.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Apostolic Constitution Published This Morning

The text of the Apostolic Constitution, "Anglicanorum coetibus", providing a canonical structure to receive groups of Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church was published this morning by the Vatican, along with complementary norms which guide the implementation of the provision. The announcement was made on 20 October, but the actual text was not made public until today.

The Bishop of Guildford, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity, has issued a statement, which is the Church of England's response. It underlines that the Vatican measure is something not relating directly to the mission, unity or ecumenical commitments of the Church of England or its dioceses as such, but rather that it is a matter for those individuals and groups who may wish to enter discussions with the Roman Catholic Church. The statement is below. 

Responding to today's publication of the Apostolic Constitution and its complementary norms, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford and Chairman of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity, said:

“We note the publication of the text of the Apostolic Constitution and its complementary norms today. It will now be for those who have requested and at this point feel impelled to seek full communion with the Roman Catholic Church to study the Apostolic Constitution carefully in the near future and to consider their options.

The Vatican response to certain requests from individuals and groups across the world does not deflect us from either the continuing mission of the Church of England in its parishes and dioceses throughout the land, or its longstanding commitment to seeking the unity of all the Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church.”

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Partnership Visit from the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar to the Diocese of Peru

The congregations of our Diocese in Europe are made up of generous people, generous in support of local ministry and generous in charitable giving to the many needs around them. The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar has formed a partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Peru which will engage our parishes in a commitment which goes beyond charitable giving, to face to face sharing and working together. The partnership began with the visit of Bishop Bill Godfrey to the Archdeaconry Synod last February.

10 people from the Archdeaconry leave for Peru on Monday 9th November for a 10 day mission visit. They will share in some joint work locally, and visit projects of the Diocese in Peru.  It is a way to share in the lives of their Peruvian sisters and brothers, to reach out and make visible their common humanity and their unity in the Gospel. It is a journey of loving solidarity. Please pray God's blessing on our representatives listed below, and on our partners in Peru.

John Cade –Mallorca
Ann Marshall – Costa Almeria
Solveig Schnur - Ibiza
Fabian Schnur – Ibiza
William Welch (Dick) – Mallorca
Helen Stokes – Algarve
Dorothy Schofield (Dot) – Tenerife
Fr Ian Hutchinson Cervantes – Madrid
Sebastian Hubbard – Algarve
Fr Haynes Hubbard – Algarve

Friday, 6 November 2009

Anglicans in Nordic / Baltic Area and the Apostolic Constitution

At the meeting of the Nordic / Baltic Deanery of the Diocese in Europe which was held from 30 October to 1 November in Turku, Finland, clergy and laity from 15 congregations in the region discussed the recent announcement from Rome of an Apostolic Constitution to incorporate former Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church. The synod felt moved to make a clear public statement about their own firm identity as Anglicans, partly to respond to questions they are receiving from ecumenical partners, and partly to indicate their support for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The resolution is as follows:

In view of the Vatican's announcement of an Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans and former Anglicans, we, the Nordic and Baltic Deanery Synod of the Church of England affirm:

a) that the Church of England is part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

b) our commitment to the ecumenical goals of the official Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue

c) our communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury

Anglican-Old Catholic Communique

I attach below the Communiqué from the recent meeting of the Anglican-Old Catholic Coordinating Council.

The photo on the left is of the Archbishops of Canterbury and Utrecht

The Anglican-Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council - Communiqué
Canterbury, 29 October 2009

The Anglican-Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council (AOCICC) met in the International Study Centre, Canterbury, England, from 26 to 29 October 2009. The Council welcomed the Revd Carola von Wrangel from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe as a new member.

The members received reports of developments in each Communion and reviewed present ecumenical dialogues in which our Communions are engaged. The Council studied several papers on the theology of blessing. It also discussed and adopted an information leaflet about the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht.

A draft text for a common statement on ecclesiology and mission was discussed. The Council will present it to the Anglican and Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference and recommends that it be made the theme of the forthcoming International Old Catholic and Anglican Theological Conference in 2011.
Attention was given to the recently published document “Kirche und Kirchengemeinschaft” (Church and Communion) of the International Roman Catholic-Old Catholic Dialogue Commission (IRAD), as well as to the recent Vatican announcement of the Apostolic Constitution to provide personal ordinariates for Anglicans and former Anglicans.