to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.

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Saturday, 26 September 2009

“Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission”

The 2nd conference for the clergy of the Diocese in Europe ended on Friday. For 5 days in Cologne, 142 licensed priests and deacons (out of a possible 150), from Iceland to Morocco, and from the Canary Islands to Russia, gathered at Kardinal Schulte Haus for the conference which was entitled “Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission”. The programme was stongly geared to continuing education for our ministry in Europe. It included worship several times each day, and presentations from key note speakers, Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP (pictured above with the Revd Canon Debbie Flach), Professor Brian Thorne and Professor Musa Dube. These three speakers brought a richness of perspectives from their own experiences: a former Master of the Dominicans; a psychotherapist and lay theologian; and a female, African biblical scholar. 10 workshops on various topics were run, and of course there was time simply to enjoy each other's company around the bar. Many were meeting their colleagues for the first time as there has been a 45 % change in the clergy since the first conference in 2005. It was a packed agenda, with much stimulating input and presentation, but less time to digest the material during the conference itself. This will have to be done in the weeks and months ahead. I reported to the clergy on Thursday afternoon on some of the issues and themes that emerged during the life of the conference, and on which we as a diocese will be reflecting as we move forward in our mission and ministry. For example (and these are just a few of the areas we explored):

The diaspora: The gifts and challenges of being outside one’s homeland, learning what it means to “sing the Lord’s song in a strange land”; overcoming fear of losing identity, reaching out to people with greater sensitivity.

The Earth: keeping our planet as a beautiful, hospitable home for all, working to be better guests of God on earth.

Embracing difference: difference is to be celebrated; it is interesting, exciting. Community life, love as expressed in the doctrine of the Trinity and a moral (not moralistic!) vision will help equip our Church to be open to others in hospitality, compassion, empathy and friendship.
Rublev Trinity (Tretyakov)
We received a prayer card of the Rublev Icon of the Holy Trinity inscribed on the back with this prayer: God bless our diocese, inspire its worship, sanctify its people and make each of its churches a home for all who seek you.

The Revd Paul Needle, our diocesan communications officer, has prepared a short (4 minute) audio report of the conference which includes many participants speaking of their experiences and the blessings they have received. Click here to listen to it.

Some pictures are in my photo album here.

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