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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Diocese in Europe: Synod of the Archdeaconry of the East

I am sure that the Archdeaconry of the East of the Church of England Diocese in Europe is the largest such jurisdiction in Christendom. The Archdeacon, the Venerable Patrick Curran, (left) who is also the Chaplain of Christ Church, Vienna, oversees Anglican work in Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, (FYR of) Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the countries which emerged after the collapse of the USSR. Even Mongolia (hardly Europe!) is in the ecclesiastical boundary of the Archdeaconry. Once a year, clergy and lay representatives from the churches of the Archdeaconry meet in a synod to discuss issues facing their congregations, for prayer and study, and to take decisions concerning the common life of our parishes in the region. This year's meeting was held in Izmir, Turkey, from 8 to 11 October, hosted by the Church of St John the Evangelist, a congregation which has had a continuous presence in that ancient city (Smyrna) since 1625 when the first Anglican Church was built. There has been a resident Anglican priest in Izmir since 1630. The present priest-in-charge of St John the Evangelist, Izmir (with St Mary Magdalene, Bornova) is the Revd Ron Evans.

This year, the representatives explored some themes related to Anglican identity, led by Dr Colin Podmore, a Church of England historian. Mr David Healey, the Chief Executive of the Intercontinental Church Society (ICS), a mission agency of the Church of England with long-standing links to this diocese, gave a presentation on "the influence of consumer culture on belief and unbelief". In the sharing of information, many congregations reported serious financial challenges, for a variety of reasons: demographic shifts, the economic downturn, changes in local tax regulations for Churches, just to name a few. The synod heard some encouraging news of emerging congregations, or new congregations which are continuing to deepen their development in Skopje (FYR Macedonia) and Crete. Ecumenical relations are an important dimension to our Church's work in the Eastern Archdeaconry and some very positive reports on ecumenical life were received from Athens (with the Greek Orthodox Church), Budapest (with Roman Catholics and Lutherans) and the Czech Republic (with the Old Catholic Church).
At the closing service of the Synod on Sunday 11 October, Tony Lane was ordained deacon. Tony serves one of the new congregations in the Archdeaconry, St Thomas the Apostle, Kefalas, Crete.

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