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.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Upcoming Michaelmas Ordinations are also Celebrations of New Work in the Diocese

The Holy SpiritImage by Lawrence OP via Flickr
Two priests and one deacon will be ordained this Michaelmas in the Diocese in Europe. All three ordinands are serving new congregations and have had a major part to play in opening up new areas of work and ministry within our diocesan family.

Coutances: I will preside at the ordination of the Revd Peter Hales to the priesthood on 3rd October at 10.30 am in Chapelle du Centre d’Accueil Diocésain (CAD) in Coutances, France. Bishop Stanislas Lalanne of Coutances has graciously offered the use of the chapel of his diocesan centre for the celebration. Peter will continue to serve as assistant curate of Christ Church, Coutances, a growing parish in the Manche region of Normandy, which has already already started a daughter congregation in Vezins in addition to the main congregation in the city of Coutances. (The address for the Chapel is 2 rue Daniel, Coutances 50200, France. For further details of the service contact the Revd Peter Hales at +33 2 33 58 86 76, The parish has a website here.

Padua: Bishop Geoffrey Rowell will preside at the ordination of the Revd Sampson Ajuka to the priesthood on 4 October at 10.30 am in the Chapel of S.Giuseppe Il Lavoratore, Padua, Italy. Sampson will continue to serve as assistant curate, St George’s Venice with special responsibilities for the Church of St Anthony the Abbot, Padua, a congregation which he has nurtured from its early days in 2004. (The address for the chapel is Quarta Strada 7, Zona Industriale, Padua. For further details of the service contact the Revd John-Henry Bowden at +39 041 520 0571, St Anthony the Abbot congregation has a page on the St George's Venice website which can be found here.

Crete: I will preside at the ordination of Mr Anthony Lane to the diaconate on 11 October at 9.30 am in St John the Evangelist Church, Izmir, Turkey. Tony will serve as assistant curate of the Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Kefalas, Crete, a new congregation within the Greater Athens Chaplaincy. The celebration will be during the days of the synod of the Archdeaconry of the East, to which the Anglican Church in Crete belongs. (The address for St John's Church, Izmir is Talat Pasa Bul, Alsancak, Izmir, next to the British Consulate, and near Alsancak Railway Station. For further details of the service contact the Revd Ron Evans at +90 232 464 5753, The chapel in Crete was built by Tony and was consecrated last year by Bishop Geoffrey. The diocesan website has a note about St Thomas's Church in Crete here.

I ask your prayers for the ordinands as they make their spiritual preparations for ordination as deacon or priest. All are invited to attend these ordinations, and clergy and Readers are invited to robe. Priests of the Church of England or of a Church in communion are invited to join in the laying-on-of-hands at the ordination of priests.

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Saturday, 22 August 2009

Climate Change Day of Prayer 4 October

The Diocesan Environmental Officer Brian Morgan has written to clergy of the diocese to draw attention to a press release from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) calling for a Climate Change Day of Prayer on 4 October. The Day of Prayer is an initiative of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Pentecostal Curches who are members of CTBI as well as Christian development and environmental organisations, including Christian Aid, CAFOD, Tearfund, A Rocha, and Christian Ecology Link.

Resources are available on the CTBI website to enable churches and groups to prepare for and run a Day of Prayer, when people can take time out to reflect on the issues and pray together at this critical time in our history. A key aim is to pray for God's will to be done during the decisive summit in Copenhagen, COP 15, from 7 - 18 December, which has been described by some as possibly the "last chance for the planet". (The Archbishop of Canterbury will be attending the summit in Copenhagen, as well as other Anglican leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Bishops of London and Liverpool. The Revd Jonathan LLoyd, the new chaplain of St Alban's Copenhagen, will be organising prayer at the Church throughout the event. I have been asked by Archbishop Rowan Williams to accompany him to Copenhagen).

Sunday October 4th is the suggested Climate Change Day of Prayer, although it can be held on any suitable date. 4th October is St Francis Day and the final Sunday of the Time for Creation, a season increasingly observed by European Christians from 1 September to 4 October, an initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch which was taken up by Churches at the European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania in 2007. Resources for the season Time for Creation are also available from CTBI here.

Speaking of the Day of Prayer, the Revd Dave Bookless, of A Rocha UK says, "As the world descends into fearful uncertainty, we need space to ask God for his perspective and intervention, to think about what our abuse of creation says about us, and to plead for a new vision of God's purposes for us in his world. I believe the Climate Change Day of Prayer is probably the most important initiative that Christians can be involved in during the lead up to the critical negotiations in Copenhagen". The Revd Dave Bookless will be running workshops at our upcoming Clergy Conference, on environmental issues and the Churches.

I encourage the congregations of the Diocese in Europe to plan a Climate Change Day of Prayer, in co-ordination where possible with other churches and groups. It can be an excellent ecumenical, even inter-faith opportunity. If you know of local resources available in addition to the material from CTBI, I know that Brian Morgan, the Diocesan Environmental Officer would like to hear from you. He would also be interested to know of any plans in the congregations of the diocese observe the Day of Prayer. Brian can be contacted at

Diocesan Clergy Conference set for 21 - 25 September

Cologne Cathedral at SunsetImage via Wikipedia

Priests and deacons from Madeira to Moscow, Tangier to Trondheim, will gather at Kardinal Schulte Haus near Cologne from 21 to 25 September for the pastoral conference for the clergy - only the 2nd in the 30 year history of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. "Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission" is the theme for the gathering which will be a time of worship, bible study, teaching and continuing education as well as for support from peers for the challenging work of ministry and mission in this vast diocese.

We will be privileged to have two keynote speakers: Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP and Professor Brian Thorne. Fr Radcliffe is the former Master of the Dominicans, a widely-read author on pastoral Christianity with a prophetic edge, whose latest book, entitled Why Go to Church? was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2009. Professor Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia, founder of Norwich Centre for Counselling Studies, and an expert in mediation and person-centred counselling. His most recent book is called Infinitely Beloved. Dr Musa Dube, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana and a New Testament scholar, will challenge us in Bible study. Professor Dube is highly sought in ecumenical and academic circles for the fresh and challenging readings of the scriptures she brings from outside the traditional North Atlantic viewpoint. The conference chaplain is Fr Timothy Bavin OSB, an Anglican Benedictine monk and spiritual director. Bishop Joachim Vobbe of the Old Catholic Church in Germany will be the preacher at the opening service.

10 workshops will cover a wide range of topics: liturgy, reconciliation, welcoming different cultures, Godly Play, expatriate ministry, ecumenical ministry, interfaith dialogue, leading bible study in a multicultural context, ministry with the marginalized, and environmental and ecological concerns in ministry.

I am indebted to a creative team of priests from across the diocese who have worked with me for over a year in the design and preparation of the conference: Ulla Monberg (Diocesan Director of Training, Copenhagen), Mark Collinson (Amsterdam), John Wilkinson (Fontainebleau), Ian Hutchinson-Cervantes (Madrid), Sammy Mpole Masemola (Oslo), Joan Lyon (Luxembourg) and Ken Letts (Archdeacon of France, Nice).

147 of the 152 licensed clergy of the diocese have confirmed their attendance. The conference is being funded by Continuing Ministerial Education funds, as well as support from the Diocesan Board of Finance.

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Thursday, 20 August 2009

Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland to be Consecrated on 12 September

On 12 June the synod of the Christ-Catholic Church of Switzerland elected the Revd Dr Harald Rein, currently the parish priest in Zurich, to be their next bishop. Dr Rein is a good friend of the Anglican Church. I first met him back in 2002 when he was the official Old Catholic participant in the Anglican Consultative Council meetings in Hong Kong. We serve together on the Anglican Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council (AOCICC) and I look forward to working with Dr Rein as a brother bishop, and to continuing the task of deepening the relationship of communion which our Churches share. He will succeed Bishop Fritz-René Müller, also a close friend of our diocese and well known to Anglican parishes in the Swiss Archdeaconry.

The Christ-Catholic Church of Switzerland dates from just after the Vatican I declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870, when a lay-led revolt in Switzerland resulted in the organization of a Catholic Church outside the jurisdiction of the Pope. It has over 40 parishes and clergy. It is a member of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht. In 1931, the Churches of the Anglican Communion and Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrect came into communion through the Bonn Agreement.

The consecration will be held in the Augustinerkirche in Zurich on 12 September at 11 am. (Unfortunately I have had to send Fr Harald my regrets, as I have a previous commitment in Copenhagen that day). The diocese in Europe assures Dr Rein of our prayers and warm wishes as he prepares for his ministry as a bishop in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Bishop David on leave

I am officially on leave from today until 2 September. Do not expect too many blog updates during this time! As Deacon Frances is also on leave until 24 August, should you need to be in touch before 24 August please contact either the diocesan office +44 (0) 20 7898 1155 or Bishop Geoffrey's office +44 (0)1293 883051.
¡Hasta luego!

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Monday, 17 August 2009

New Ministries at St Vincent's Algarve

On 14 July the Archdeacon of Gibraltar, the Venerable David Sutch, licensed the Revd Bob Bates (above left) as chaplain in St Vincent's, in a service in the Church of St Luke, Monte de Palhagueira. Fr Bob and his wife Diane join us from the Diocese of Peterborough. As chaplain he will have primary reponsibility for the congregations in the central and eastern parts of the parish and will work in the team with Fr Haynes Hubbard. (Fr Haynes as senior chaplain has administrative oversight of St Vincent's and primary responsibility pastoral care for the Western end of the parish).

At the same service the Area Dean of Gibraltar, Canon Hugh Broad, admitted Mr Eckart Floether (above right) to the office of Reader in the Church of England and licensed him for his ministry in St Vincent's. (There is already one other Reader, Mrs Fiona Mayes, serving in the parish).

St Vincent's Algarve is a vibrant and growing part of the diocese and the addition of second full-time priest and another reader to the team will help with the work and witness of the communities of faith across the southern coast of Portugal.

We welcome Fr Bob to the diocese in Europe and pray God's blessing on him and on Eckart as they formally commence their ministry among the people of the Algarve.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Gibraltar Archdeaconry - Diocese of Peru link

Partnership links between our Archdeaconry of Gibraltar and the Anglican Diocese in Peru were strengthened following the visit of Bishop Bill Godfrey to the archdeaconry synod this year. Bishop Bill led the Bible studies and so moved the members with the story of how God is leading and equipping his diocese that the synod agreed to deepen the links of cooperation, partnership and support. As part of the next stage in the link, a small group of people (10-15) from our parishes in Spain and Portugal will travel to Peru in November. It will be a working visit, to experience and share in the ministry of that diocese and report back to the archdeaconry. A visible sign of our partnership, a colourful altar hanging, in the style of a traditional Peruvian arpillera, made by women of Bishop Bill's diocese, is circulating around the churches of the Archdeaconry. It is pictured above.

We have much to learn from the Diocese of Peru. It is growing rapidly, having gone from 8 to 40 congregations and from 4 to 32 clergy in the past 6 years, yet it is both a poor diocese and a church of the poor; 90% of her people live in situations of great need. The mission of the diocese is holistic and includes programmes of church planting, theological education, social outreach, schools, micro-finance and income generation projects.

The Diocese of Peru has an informative website here. Bishop Bill is a USPG mission companion and information about projects in his diocese can be found on the USPG: Anglicans in World Mission website here. The Revd Haynes Hubbard, Senior Chaplain of St Vincent’s Algarve, is organising the Peru partnership visit in November. For more information, you can contact Fr. Haynes at St Vincent’s website is here.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ

Today is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 15 August has been celebrated by Christians as the principle Marian festival from about the 5th Century. For Eastern Christians today is the Dormition of Our Lady. Similarly in the Book of Common Prayer of many Provinces of the Communion, such as the Anglican Church of Canada and the Scottish Episcopal Church, today is the Falling Asleep of the BVM. Roman Catholics call today the Assumption of the BVM. (The neutral Church of England title was chosen to avoid doctrinal controversy).

In 2005 the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) agreed statement, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, was published. It reflects on what we can say in common about Our Lady. While it acknowledges difficulties that particular Papal definitions of Marian dogma can cause for Anglicans, it finds in Scripture and in the ancient common traditions the possibility of articulating a common faith about Mary which suggests that past differences may not now be communion dividing. For instance, the Assumption of Mary can be understood as a sign of our destiny in Christ. When Christians, ponder our participation in the full glory of our Lord (cf 2 Corinthians 3.18) we can see in Mary a sign of that ultimate hope. "Those whom God predestined he also called; and those who he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified", Romans 8.30. Through grace, all who faithfully follow God's purposes are welcomed into the presence of God at the end of their lives. Mary, is the one who bore God incarnate in her womb, and is thus the one among all believers who is closest to our Lord and Saviour. She is the pattern of our hope in Christ and shows us the ultimate glory of our rebirth in him.

The icon above is Russian from the 14th century. It depicts the Risen Lord holding Mary's soul at the moment of her death; he holds her as if she were a newborn child.

As a former Anglican Co-Secretary of ARCIC for 7 years, I suppose I am not entirely unbiased in recommending the text Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ for reflection! It is available here as a PDF download.

Congregations in the diocese dedicated to St Mary include Haarlem (St Anna and St Mary), Rotterdam, and Belgrade.

Friday, 14 August 2009

An interesting statistic about the Anglican Communion

The official website of the Anglican Communion claims that there are "over 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in over 160 countries". Many of us will have heard this remarkable statistic before. But has it occured to those of us in this Diocese in Europe that we comprise 43 of the 160 countries? In other words, one quarter of the countries where the Anglican Communion has a presence are in our diocese! We do not yet have a quarter of the membership (20 million!) but as we are a growing diocese at least we are heading in the right direction.

The Anglican Communion website is here.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Visit to the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate

Pec Monastery @ Pec Kosovo SerbiaImage by MichaelTyler via Flickr

On 27 July, at the end of my recent parish visit to St Mary’s Belgrade, I paid a courtesy visit to the Patriarchate to pass along the greetings and the assurance of the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury. His Grace Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno and Deacon Alexander Sekulić welcomed me on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and Littoral and His Holiness Patriarch Pavle. (The Patriarch is seriously ill and should be remembered in our prayers).
As often happens when I meet ecumenical partners these days, there was some discussion about the present state of the Anglican Communion and about the Archbishop’s role in maintaining unity. The Serbian Orthodox authorities shared their concern, even sadness, at developments in our Communion. I found that they have an appreciation and understanding of the complex and difficult role of Archbishop Rowan Williams in trying

LONDON - FEBRUARY 12:  The Archbishop of Cante...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

to maintain Anglican unity.
We spent some time discussing the situation of Kosovo Metohija. I heard an urgent plea for wider international recognition of the plight of the Serbian community and the Serbian Church in Kosovo Metohija. We spoke about how Christian Churches might raise some voice of concern for the future of the Church in Kosovo and Metohija including the preservation of Serbian monasteries, churches and cultural heritage sites there.
I was moved by the expression of appreciation for our Anglican-Serbian Orthodox bilateral relations. Our own priest in Belgrade, the Revd Robin Fox, is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarios (rather like an ambassador) to the Patriarchate of Serbia and works hard to keep our links active.
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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Mission Development Seminar - A Pilot Project

In recent years my colleagues in the Ministry Team of the diocese have had to consider how candidates for ordination or readers in training could be supported, who are already functioning in sole leadership positions, without a resident senior priest to give supervision. In some other situations, licensed readers or newly ordained deacons and priests are de facto in charge of a developing new work and nurturing new congregations, functioning as "minister-in-charge". We are seeing this in a variety of places in the diocese from the Canary Islands to sub-Arctic Finland, from rural France to urban Turkey. I have proposed to my colleagues that we view this phenomenon, not as an anomaly or a problem, but an opportunity given to us by God, to be embraced and supported more fully.
The question we have wrestled with is how the diocese can offer the support, advice and oversight needed in such situations where new congregations and new vocations are organically linked (indeed often emerging together) or where new congregations are emerging under exclusively lay leadership. The Ministry Team came up with the idea of a Mission Development Seminar.
The members of the Seminar will be new ordinands, readers in training or licensed readers who carry responsibilities for new congregations, together with the Director of Training, the Diocesan Secretary, and one or two advisors on mission and congregational development, and myself. To save on costs we propose that the Seminar be bolted on to the twice-a-year existing Post Ordination Training sessions for an additional 24 hours, reducing travel costs, as many of the curates would be coming to the POT sessions anyway.
From 2 - 3 November this year we will run a pilot Seminar to see if a programme like this will meet the needs of those who are leading these new congregations.
The programme will focus on training and support for emerging Anglican congregations, addressing issues of church growth, congregational organisation, missiological questions and matters of Anglican identity. We hope that there can be mutual learning from the shared experiences across the diocese.
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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Anglican Airport Ministry - Schiphol, Netherlands

Schiphol Plaza/NS on Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.Image via Wikipedia

How appropriate in a diocese of people on the move that we are engaged in pastoral ministry at one of Europe's largest and busiest airports - Schiphol in the Netherlands. The Revd Joop Albers is a priest of this diocese who is an airport chaplain, and member of an ecumenical team ministry there. Fr Joop's ministy is supported by Anglican sources (financial as well as volunteer time) as well as by the Old Catholic diocese of Haarlem. Anglican Airport Ministry has its own website for more information. If you are every flying through Schiphol, visit the Stiltecentrum (Meditation Centre). For an insight into this unusual and important ministry click on the following link to a youtube video.

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Monday, 10 August 2009

CEC Assembly: Called to One Hope in Christ

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a regional fellowship of Churches and 43 associated organisations from many countries on the European continent. From 15th to 21st July this year the 13th Assembly since the founding of the Conference in 1959 brought together over 300 delegates, advisers, observers and visitors from 126 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic member Churches to celebrate the jubilee year under the theme ‘Called to One Hope in Christ’. The Church of England is a member Church and sent a delegation headed by the Bishop of London. Due to the way the General Synod nominations committee works, the Diocese in Europe did not have a member on the delegation from the Church of England. However, our Anglican parish in Lyon was active among the host Churches, and an ordinand from the diocese, and member of the Chemin Neuf Community in Lyon, Mr Tim Watson, was also involved. The General Secretary of CEC is the Venerable Colin Williams, a Church of England priest, who has permission to officiate in Holy Trinity Church in Geneva, the city where the CEC offices are located. (Archdeacon Williams is pictured above, with the Very Revd Margarethe Isberg, the Dean of the Cathedral in Västeräs, Sweden and a former deputy vice-president of the Conference).

During the celebrations of CEC’s 50th anniversary, representatives discussed the achievements and failures of the past six years since Trondheim, the venue of the last Assembly, the fusion between CEC and the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe and the financial crisis. Assembly worship was according to the different forms and traditions of member Churches. The final message is addressed to member Churches and underlines many themes that touch upon the life and mission of congregations in this diocese, such as the unity of Christians, concern for the environment, work with migrant populations and building a welcoming and inclusive Europe. The message from the 13th Assembly to the Churches can be found here.

Happy Patronal Feast to Lanzarote

Vines growing in volcanic lapilli in the La Ge...Image via Wikipedia
St Laurence was a deacon in the Church of Rome, and was martyred on this day in 258. It was common in those days for a deacon to be in charge of the Church's finances. When arrested by Roman authorities, he was ordered to turn over the treasures of the Church. He pointed to a crowd of poor people and is reputed to have said "here are the Church's treasures". He was tortured to death on a gridiron.
Our Anglican parish in Lanzarote is dedicated to St Laurence. It includes four congregations on the island of Lanzarote itself, and is also overseeing the development of a new congregation of St James in the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura, all served by the priest Fr Idris Vaughan and the reader Mr David Dowdell.
The parish has an attractive website here.
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Friday, 7 August 2009

Scratchings about the Anglican way: Liturgical worship

Members of a free evangelical congregation in Europe interested in the Anglican way asked me some questions to do with liturgical worship. They wanted to know why liturgical forms were required in the Anglican tradition. This is part of my answer....

Some Christians are hesitant about liturgical worship. Of course, virtually all Christians have a liturgy. Even a service in the Free Church tradition generally has a form to it: it usually includes a greeting at the beginning, an act of penitence, readings from scripture, hymns or songs, prayers for those in need, as well as sacramental acts. The only Christian tradition I know of which has absolutely no structure to their worship is the Quaker – where all gather and await in silence until someone is moved to speak!
So the question about liturgy is not really about whether to have one or not, but which liturgical form to use. Worship is the deep response of the redeemed humanity to God. Liturgy is the pattern or way that the people of God together offer that response. It is more than texts, although these are important. It includes movement, music, silence, and very often a sense of “sacred space”. Christian worship, through its liturgy, is the way that the Good News of Christ is recalled, celebrated and transmitted from one generation to another. The liturgy of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, for instance, is the way that the memory of Christ’s sacrifice is made present. St Paul mentions in 1 Co r 11.23 how he received this tradition and passed it down to his Corinthian congregation.
If you look at any of the Common Worship resources you will see that each service has an outline which indicates the basic form and the elements that should be there. F

Collection of three books in the Church of Eng...Image via Wikipedia

or instance a service of the Word has the following structure:
Penitential prayers
Collect (prayer of the day)
Reading(s) from Holy Scripture
Intercessions and thanksgivings
The Lord’s Prayer
Blessing or dismissal
There is an important reason for certain specific texts to have a place in worship, for instance, a set Eucharistic Prayer, because there is a connection between liturgy and doctrine. The way we pray must be coherent with what we believe. Authorized liturgical texts give assurance of this. We certainly do not want the Church’s worship to be a slave to a written text. Neither is the Church’s worship uniform. There is a wide range of authorized texts in the Church of England which means that the Church’s worship can be true to our faith while reflecting local custom, preference, style and creative expression. Certain texts are standard the Lord’s Prayer and the Eucharistic Prayers for instance. The Eucharistic Prayer must be one of the authorised texts as this prayer summarises the heart of our faith, and in that sense is creedal in nature. It proclaims the heart of the mystery of our redemption and so it must conform to doctrinal standards. Also, the eucharist is the time when we are joined to all other Christians, so the central prayer should be one that embraces the faith of all Christians.
But there is considerable freedom, within the general pattern for the other elements of worship. I have worshipped in Anglican congregations in Burma where the congregation all remove their shoes before entering the worship space to acknowledge God’s holiness; in Kenya and Canada where the congregation turn to face the four directions of the world to acknowledge God’s omnipresence; in India where the congregation sits on the floor around the cup and plate which are on a cloth on the floor (as a meal would be in one of their homes). I have heard hymns and songs accompanied by drums, flutes, sitars, pipe organs or no instrument at all. There is great variety of contextual and cultural expression possible, but the liturgical forms help us to recognize that it is the worship of the One Church of God that is being offered.
Of course the Church’s worship should always be of the highest quality – well prepared and inspiring to her members and attractive to seekers and newcomers to the faith. It should be true to what we believe and to what the Church has always believed, and not simply left to an individual’s notion of what is the Church’s faith. One of the responsibilities of the bishop is to ensure that the people of God are offering what is worthy and faithful to the Gospel.

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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Diocese in Europe Swine Flu Guidelines

On 22 July the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to the bishops of the Church of England concerning the pandemic “swine flu” in England and recommended that those presiding at the Holy Communion suspend the sharing of the chalice. The Archbishops’ advice was based on UK Department of Health information. Our situation in the Diocese in Europe where we serve in 44 countries is not so straightforward. I therefore asked our Archdeacons and Area Deans to seek details of current public health advice in the countries under their oversight and to instruct the clergy if and when the diocesan guidelines must come into force as a consequence of that advice.
The diocesan guidelines can be found here
To date the guidelines have been put into place in our congregations in Russia, Gibraltar, and Tenerife South.
The Church of England has published prayers for individual and church use pertaining to swine flu which can be found here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

L'Eglise d'Angleterre - en France?

These days when English newspapers run stories about the Anglican Church I often tend to cringe. However, last Saturday I was pleasantly surprised by a very friendly feature in The Times on the life of our diocese in France. It underlined the warm ecumenical relations that exist between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in that country, relations that make a practical difference to the life of our diocese. We are grateful for the hospitality that is shown to our congregations by Roman Catholic bishops, clergy and people, and for the support we feel from them for our own pastoral work. Three of our own priests, the Revds Gill Strachan, Peter Dawson and Paul Vrolijk get special mention in the article as does our Archdeacon of France, the Venerable Ken Letts.
Read The Times article here.
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Saturday, 1 August 2009

Scratchings about the Anglican way: Lay and Ordained Ministry

The members from the free evangelical congregation interested in the Anglican way asked about ministry, lay and ordained. They were wanted to know about who can preach in the Church of England. Some of their members, with varying levels of training, currently do preach, and they wished to know that, if they became Anglican, could they continue. My response went along these lines.....

A 6th century mosaic of :en:Jesus at Church Sa...Image via Wikipedia

All members of the believing community, ordained and lay, are inter-related. In a very real sense it is strange to speak of lay ministry versus ordained ministry in the Church, as all ministry has the same root in Christ. The scriptures teach us that there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, varieties of service but the same Lord; varieties of working, but the same God who inspires them all in every one (1 Cor 12.4-6). The Spirit gives gifts or charisms to all the baptised.
Within the fellowship of the baptised, there are those who are entrusted with permanent, lifelong, public and representative roles. These we call the ordained. In the Church, there are three orders of such ministers – bishops, priests (presbyters) and deacons. Ordination is about a ministry that is universally acknowledged and interchangeable, a ministry that is in principle recognizable throughout the universal Church. The three-fold order relates to three dimensions of the Church’s life – the word, the sacraments and pastoral care and oversight.
When we look at the ministry of lay people, there is, of course, the fundamental work of daily Christian discipleship, embraced by all the baptised. Then there are those who have taken on specific tasks in the life of the congregation; these we may call lay ministers. In the Church of England there are a number of lay ministries – Churchwardens, musicians, those who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion, pastoral visitors, Sunday School teachers, youth workers, evangelists, administrators, just to name a few, the list can go on. The vast majority of these are recognized in some way for their work in their local community.
In addition the Church of England has also a category of lay ministry known as “reader” for which people are selected, trained, and eventually authorized by the Bishop. They have specific theological and pastoral formation which enables them to be regarded as official teachers and preachers of the Church’s faith. Their ministry is transferable between parishes and dioceses – once a reader in the Church of England, that ministry can be authorized by a bishop to be exercised in any congregation in his diocese. It is because the Church understands the teaching of the faith to be so important that its official teachers are under the authority (licence) of the Bishop who is the guardian of the Apostolic Faith. It is ultimately the Bishop’s role in the Church to ensure that what is taught and lived is in accordance with the faith of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.
It may be that there are some in your own congregation who are possible candidates for a ministry which we would call Reader – who would be entrusted by the Bishop as official teachers and preachers, working in collaboration with the ordained. There may be others who have been preaching but who have not yet achieved a solid, formal theological training. Their ministry can continue, as long as those who have responsibility for the Church’s teaching are able to supervise them and monitor their their preaching. One possibility would be for such individuals to enter a programme of theological study, which would lead them to having authorized status as a reader, in due course. Their preset ministry of preaching in the meantime could be considered part of their practical formation and training.
In all this I would emphasise that my job as a bishop is to encourage, support and nurture the ministry of the people of God. I would want to recognize gifts that have been given, and set in place a way to let such ministry flourish and find its proper place within the life of the Church. In a situation of development and growing together, there can be flexibility as we seek a way forward in our interim situation, always with a view to honoring both an individual’s charisms and the more general norms of the Church.
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Scratchings about the Anglican way

Early Christian ichthys sign carved into marbl...Image via Wikipedia

Recently I received a letter inquiring about some aspects of Anglican Christianity from a free evangelical congregation in one of the countries in this diocese. The members of this congregation are exploring a formal affiliation with the Church of England. Their questions ranged from the form of worship to the ministry of bishops. In a series I will post my answers to their questions, which caused me to think afresh about my own tradition!
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