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

For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A ancient Christmas question: Who is Christ?

Christmas is not the most ancient of Christian feasts. There is little evidence of 25 December as a day to celebrate Christ’s birth before the mid 4th century. According to the Revd Dr Paul Bradshaw, an eminent liturgical scholar (and the Liturgical Advisor of this diocese in Europe) the earliest reference to 25 December as the Feast of the Nativity appeared around 354 in Rome. (However in other parts of the Church such as in Egypt, 6 January was observed from the late 2nd century as both the commemoration of the birth of Jesus as well as his baptism. The latter continues to be a theme of the 6 January feast of the Epiphany).

Why the slow start to dedicate a feast to the birth of Jesus? The hesitancy might stem from the Church’s theological debate with the Arians about the relationship of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. “Were they equal or not?” was the question. The Arians would be in favour of marking the Son’s beginning or birth in time as they were unsure about the equality of Father and Son. They argued that “there was a time when the Son was not”. On the other hand, the orthodox argued for the theological position which became enshrined in the Creed, that the Son was “God of God, light of Light, very God of very God” and “of one substance with the Father”.

Interestingly, traces of this early debate can be detected liturgically. For instance, although a feast of the birth of Jesus the oldest Gospel reading associated with Christmas is the start of St John’s Gospel which proclaims that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Even today in the Church of England, St Luke’s story of the birth in Bethlehem can be read at one of the Christmas services, (and is customary at Midnight Mass), but the Church states that the reading from the beginning of St John’s Gospel should be read at some celebration during the feast.

The mystery of Christmas is that the Eternal Word, the Son who is consubstantial with the Father, was made flesh and entered into the world, born as the babe of Bethlehem. A hymn from the Eastern Church enshrines this faith:

Today the Virgin gives birth to him who is above all being, and the earth offers the cave to him whom no one can approach; Angels with Shepherds give glory, while Magi journey with a star, for to us there has been born a little Child, God before the ages.
Happy Christmas to all readers of this blog!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Things are winding down for Christmas in the London Office

As the Christmas feast approaches the "Tufton Street team" (the staff of the diocesan office and my own office) took a moment away from their labours on Wednesday to enjoy the traditional "Secret Santa" exchange, and to munch through a mince pie or two. The (demob?) happy gathering is pictured above. Left to right: Yours truly, Adrian Mumford, Deacon Frances Hiller, Sylvia Brantingham, Nick Wraight, Jeanne French and Bron Panter. What a splendid and jolly group of colleagues (and jolly hard-working too).

This year my Secret Santa gave me with an essential piece of kit for an ecumenical bishop: a Benedictaphone! According to the packet, this "pocket pontiff" voice recorder keyring will help me remember things and add a little inspiration to every day.

Earlier in the week, the Worth team from Bishop Geoffrey's office joined the London based team for our annual Christmas lunch. With the usual attention to detail, the party hats in the crackers were chosen  to be in the correct "canonical" colour for bishops. Bishop Geoffrey is sporting his below.

BBC broadcast from St Clement's, Prague ... on the feast of Stephen!

This Sunday  26 December BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a special service from St Clement's, our Diocese in Europe church in Prague. The Revd Ricky Yates will lead the service which will reflect on the lives and deaths of two saints: St Stephen, whose feast it is on Sunday, and St Wenceslas, the tenth century Duke of Bohemia. St Wenceslas later became known as St Vaclav and is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. The idea springs from the old Christmas carol, "Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen". St Clement's is not far from Wenceslas Square itself.

Fr Ricky will be joined in leading the service by the Revd Petra Elsmore, another priest of the Church of England, now based in Liverpool. Petra is Czech by birth and was an ordinand from St Clement's several years ago. Ricky and Petra are pictured below.

The service will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 26 December at 08.10 GMT (that is 09.10 Central European Time).

For more information go to Ricky Yates personal website here. St Clement's website is here.  (Pictures of St Clement's and Petra are courtesy of Ricky Yates).

Monday, 20 December 2010

iPhone App for the Church of England!

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase

Those who know me, know that I am a bit of a gadget lover so I was pleased to discover (as will other iPhone users in the diocese) that the Church of England has developed a new "app" in partnership with the Diocese of Guildford. It enables individual dioceses to put their news into the hands of iPhone and iPad users, and gives access to resources such as an online version of Common Worship: Daily Prayer.

The Diocese in Europe is not yet one of the participating dioceses, but I hope that we might in the future.

The app can be downloaded here.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

New Congregation in St Vincent's, Algarve

St Vincent's Algarve has added a fourth regular congregation to the existing three at Luz, Almancil and GorjõesThe newest congregation is on the eastern edge of the parish, about 40 km from the Spanish border where the RC Bishop of the Algarve has given permission for the Church of England to use the Chapel of Our Lady of Carmel just outside the town of Tavira. 

St Vincent's is served by two full-time priests, the Revd Haynes Hubbard and the Revd Bob Bates. There are two readers in the parish, Mrs Fiona Mayes and Mr Eckart Floether.

On the 3rd Sunday in Advent, among the celebrations in St Vincent's was a service of Confirmation at Luz (pictured above), at which two of Fr Haynes own children, Sebastian and Gabriella were among the confirmands.

St Vincent's website is here.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Mary, Joseph and the pizza

Nativity plays are not uncommon in our churches this time of year. Christ Church in Lille, however, staged a unique presentation of the Nativity story on Saturday 4 December. David Bolton, one of the young adults in the parish, was the author and director of a production which included donkeys as narrators, a cast drawn from every age group in the parish, and some "non-traditional" characters, such as a pizza delivery man, who was one of the visitors to the Virgin Mary, in addition to the Archangel Gabriel! It was great fun, faithful to the ancient story, while filled with contemporary references. 

Christ Church Lille, whose priest is the Revd Canon Debbie Flach, is a lively international congregation, which offers worship and programmes reaching a wide range of people, including children, young professionals and the large international student population of the city.

There is probably not a single continent unrepresented in the membership of Christ Church. In my recent visit which included the celebration of baptisms and confirmations, I had conversations with members from India, Hong Kong, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, France, Italy, the USA, Canada and, of course, England.

The website of Christ Church, Lille, is here.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

St Andrew's Pau: A beautiful building is home to a vibrant international community

The town of Pau in the Pyrenees once had three Anglican Churches: Christ Church (sold to the French Reformed), Holy Trinity (now a cinema) and the beautiful St Andrew's (above), which continues to be a thriving parish, under the leadership of its priest the Revd Ian Naylor.

The building is a fine example of the architecture promoted by the Cambridge Camden Society, a consciously medieval design, which was thought by the leaders of the Oxford movement to be the most dignified style for the Church's worship. The Church is adorned with some beautiful ironwork, wood carvings, sanctuary paintings and a splendid reredos.

But the parish is more than its beautiful building. The community, once largely British, is now very international. Some are retired and live in Pau or the surrounding region. Some are living and working in Pau, including a large number of families from Nigeria, who are employed by the oil company, Total. The Sunday eucharist is the centre of the Church's life, and the hospitality and fellowship following is an essential part of building community when people travel sometimes up to 2 hours to attend the service. There is a Sunday Club for Children, run by the reader Mrs Irene Brindle, as well as house groups scattered about the region. In the past year or so, St Andrew's has founded a daughter congregation in Condom, where a service is held each Thursday. In addition St Andrew's takes a full part in the ecumenical life of the region.

On the First Sunday of Advent baptism and confirmations were celebrated. The candidates are pictured below. Fr Naylor, the parish priest is on the left.

The parish has an attractive website here.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to Athens

Abbot of Penteli, Archimandrite Ignatios from the Greek Church Office at the EU, and Archbishop Rowan

From 25 to 28 November the Archbishop of Canterbury paid a pastoral and fraternal visit to the (Greek Orthodox) Archdiocese of Athens, at the invitation of His Beatitude Ieronymos, the Archbishop of Greece and All Greece.

The visit was to strengthen the already profound friendship between the Church of England and the Church of Greece and to learn more about the witness and outreach programmes of the archdiocese. There is already a recognition of many common pastoral issues that the two Churches are facing. During his visit Archbishop Rowan spoke of the dedication of the Church to those in need, especially the poor, "In times of economic crisis and poverty our common witness is becoming increasingly important".

The Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, Senior Chaplain of the Greater Athens Chaplaincy, is also the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarios, or representative to the Greek Archbishop. Fr Malcolm was heavily involved, alongside his colleagues in the Greek Orthodox Church, in preparations for the visit, and accompanied the Archbishop throughout. Already there is close cooperation between St Paul's Anglican Church and some of the outreach projects of the Archdiocese, particularly the "Church in the Street" programme for migrants, a centre for those with Downs Syndrome, and the emerging hospice movement in Athens.

The itinerary included meetings with key politicians (the President, Prime Minister, Education and Religious Affairs Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister), as well as with Archbishop Ieronomos and members of his synod, and many projects of the Church. During his visit Archbishop Rowan was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens (photo below).

This was the third such official visit by an Archbishop of Canterbury: (Dr Michael Ramsey visited in 1962, and Dr George Carey in 1996). The warmth of this visit was evident. I felt very proud at several moments when our Greek partners spoke enthusiastically of the effective ecumenical engagement of Canon Bradshaw, who is clearly an excellent ambassador for the C of E in Greece.

Canon Bradshaw is in the photo below in conversation with the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Dimitris Dollis.

Monday, 6 December 2010

St Edward the Confessor Church, Lugano

Ticino is the Italian speaking Canton in the Swiss Federation and in the city of Lugano can be found a thriving Church of the diocese, St Edward the Confessor. The parish priest is the Revd Andy Horlock. The Reader, Mr Bob Gebhardt, is also one of the Churchwardens. Six young people were confirmed on Sunday 31 October, from left to right: Alessandro, Fiona, Camilla, Gabriela, Philip and Edo. A festive lunch followed which included the largest cake I have encountered in a while!

Anglican worship has been held in Lugano for over a century. The Church itself was consecrated in 1902. Among the features in the interior is a 12th century Venetian holy water stoup which is now the baptismal font. Worshippers on Sunday 31 October were delighted to find new seating when they arrived, a generous gift from a member of the parish.

Click here for the website of the Church of St Edward the Confessor, Lugano

Friday, 3 December 2010

Bishop's Advent Appeal

Clergy and people of this Diocese in Europe will already be aware that this year's Advent Appeal is to raise funds for two projects, one within the diocese, and one outside.

In the Diocese

Young members of the White Nile Community at Deanery Synod

The White Nile congregations in Oulu, Vaasa and Kokkola are made up of refugees from the Sudan who have been given asylum in Finland under UN auspices. They are now looking for the day when peace and stability returns to their homeland in Southern Sudan. The future of their country will be strengthened by educated Sudanese, now in exile, who hope to return to help rebuild their homeland. For this, a younger generation with English language skills will be vital. The young members of the White Nile congregations speak various Sudanese languages at home, use Arabic in worship, and, of course, are learning Finnish (and sometimes Swedish as well) in school! Funds from the Advent Appeal will support a project to enable them to improve their English, through tuition, books and other materials.

Their presence within our part of the Church of England has greatly enriched our lives, and the Church of England in turn can help, through this Appeal, to equip them to be leaders when they return to a new and peaceful land. I recently spent time with their priest, the Revd Amos Manga, in Oulu who shared with me the enthusiasm of his younger parishioners and the encouragement they feel from our support. (Please continue to hold Fr Amos in your prayers, as he is completing a final course of chemotherapy for cancer).

Outside the Diocese

Fr Chery (blue shirt) crossing the Artibonite River in Haiti

Our Lady of the Annunciation is one of the oldest parishes of the Anglican (Episcopal) Church in Haiti. It is located just outside the area of Port-au-Prince in one of the poorest zones in the country. The community faces so many difficulties (health care, accessibility, poverty) but remains a living community of faith. From this parish many vocations to the priesthood have been raised up. The Church and parish school were destroyed in the earthquake of last January 12th. The congregation and school have been meeting under tents since then.

The parish priest, Fr Jean Fils Chery, says the congregation has many young people. They are gifted with many talents. Our Appeal will support the rebuilding and re-equipping of the school. Also, as many of the youth who have finished secondary school cannot go on to college or university because of economic problems, the parish is embarking on a new programme to help prepare them for a trade or other profession.

The problems facing Haiti continue to be compounded. This past week I received an email from Canon Ogé Beauvoir, who is overseeing the reconstruction of Church properties in the country. He comments on the unrest following the elections held on Sunday 28 November.

Dear Friends:

After the earthquake, the cholera outbreak, and Tomas (the hurricane), Haiti is on the verge of serious political unrest following the violent and fraudulous election of today. Earlier last week, two of the nineteen candidates left the race. Earlier this afternoon, thirteen of the remaining seventeen candidates, including the leading one, Mirlande H. Manigat, asked the Electoral College and President Preval to void the election. Violence and fraud occurred in the today election were in favor of Jude Celestin, Mr. Preval’s candidate.
This afternoon, cities like Port-au-Prince, Petion-Ville, Petit-Goave, Gonaives, Saint-Marc, Cayes, Jacmel, Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye, and many other locations are dealing with big demonstrations. The days ahead will not be quiet.
Please continue to pray for Haiti as the country is facing another crisis.
Faithfully yours,

Please give generously to the Bishop's Advent Appeal to help us support these two outstanding projects. You can donate through your own Diocese in Europe congregation, or you can contact our Diocesan Finance Officer for advice.

The official Appeal information can be found by clicking the tab above called "Advent Appeal".

Monday, 29 November 2010

Assistant Priest In Anglican Church in Finland Appointed to University Post

The Revd Dr Mika Pajunen has been appointed Principal Lecturer in Church Life at the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Pori, a city in western Finland. Fr Mika is an assistant priest in the Anglican Church in Finland as well as a priest of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. After his ordination he served a curacy at St Nicholas, Helsinki, under the Revd Rupert Moreton - a tangible sign of the relation of communion and interchangeability of ministers which exists between the Church of Finland and the Church of England, through the Porvoo Agreement.

Fr Mika's doctoral dissertation was entitled Towards a Real Reunion? Archbishop Aleksi Lehtonen's Efforts for Closer Relations with the Church of England, 1945-1951. Lehtonen was the Archbishop of Turku during a critical post-war period when the Churches of Finland and England were engaged in tentative overtures complicated by the backdrop of the Cold War. Mika explores the ecumenical, ecclesiological and political questions which arose during Lehtonen's archiepiscopate, a fascinating historical background to the relationship between our Churches which preceded the Porvoo Agreement.

We congratulate Fr Mika who takes up his new academic position in the Spring of 2011.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wait and prepare

Advent puts the brakes on when much of the world wants to plunge right into full blown celebration of Christmas. Christians are invited to wait and prepare for the Lord who comes. A spirituality of waiting and preparation follows the biblical pattern set by the great Advent saints, St Mary the Virgin, waiting for the birth of her Son and St John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord. Both Advent saints are seen above either side of our Lord in this Cretan apse painting.

The poor of the world have no choice but to wait, for food, for shelter, for justice. Our Bishop's Advent Appeal is a way for us to be in solidarity with those who wait patiently, in this case the community of Sudanese refugees in Finland, waiting and preparing for the day when peace returns to their land, and young school children in Martissant outside Port-au-Prince Haiti, waiting for their school to be rebuilt, so they can prepare themselves to face the future with some hope.

God our rock and our salvation,
So much of faith is waiting,
Like a pregnant woman waiting in hope
Like a people under siege, holding out till relief comes
Like the soul lost in darkness, unable to see even a glimmer of light,
Yet stumbling through the night, because somewhere,
out ahead, day will surely break.
We pray for people who are waiting for the birth of a child
under the shadow of poverty or the uncertainty of displacement
We pray for people holding out till relief comes
from disaster, conflict or blockade,
We pray for souls lost in the darkness
of bereavement or sickness or despair
May we work and watch and wait with them
till the light of your day breaks through.

The Revd Peter Wolfenden: farewells in Málaga

On 24 October the people of St George’s parish in Málaga said farewell to their beloved priest, the Revd Peter Wolfenden. Fr Peter and his wife Elaine came to the difficult decision to return to England, rather sooner than they had anticipated. It seemed best for Elaine who has been receiving treatment for cancer in recent months. Fr Peter served the four congregations (Málaga, Torre del Mar, Cómpeta and Salinas) which make up the parish since May 2007. He came from a previous post in the diocese as chaplain in Malta and Gozo where he had special responsibility for Holy Trinity Sliema.

The parish is a joyous and welcoming one, made up largely of British expatriate residents and more recently many families and individuals from Africa. During Fr Peter’s time, with his wisdom, good humour and patience, he steered the parish through some turbulent moments caused by the activities of two unlicensed priests in the area. But through his strong leadership Fr Peter offered outstanding support for his parishioners and the congregations continued to flourish and grow.

Fr Peter has now taken up a house for duty post in Ovingdean in Chichester diocese, close to Brighton (where Elaine received her treatments). We continue to pray for Elaine health’s and wish them every blessing as they settle back into life in England. They are sorely missed in Málaga!

St George’s Church in Málaga, built in 1839, is the oldest of our church buildings in Spain. It is surrounded by a historic and beautiful English cemetery. The website of the parish gives much more information here.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

New head of the Vatican's ecumenical department becomes a cardinal

On Sunday 21 November, I was in St Peter's Basilica in Rome for the mass which celebrated the appointment of Kurt Koch as a cardinal, one of 24 new cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Koch is formerly the Bishop of Basel but now is the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (PCPCU). The PCPCU is the Vatican dicastery responsible for ecumenical dialogue including the official dialogue and relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He takes over from Cardinal Walter Kasper who retired earlier this year.

Our official relations with the Roman Catholic Church continue to be very good. Indeed, the next phase of our international dialogue, ARCIC, is in final preparations. The membership of the new commission has been decided by both Anglican and Roman Catholic authorities and plans for the first plenary session are under way. This next phase of ARCIC will look at the question of the nature of the authority belonging to the local Church and its relation to the universal Church.

Anglican Communion officials, Secretary General  the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Director of Unity, Faith and Order, the Revd Canon Alyson Barnett Cowan were also present for the mass for the new cardinals. Just before the Eucharist began, Canon Barnett Cowan received a message on her mobile telephone that her daughter-in-law had given birth to twins. It is almost certain that never before has a priest received news that she became a grandmother while waiting for a papal mass to begin in St Peter's basilica!

Canon Barnett Cowan is the Anglican Co-Secretary of ARCIC. She is pictured below on the left, with  Canon Kenneth Kearon.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Fresh Expression in Rome

Mary Styles is an ordinand of the Diocese in Europe who lives in Rome and who is presently a licensed reader at All Saints Church there. In an article published in Centro, the bulletin of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Mary tells of her experience with a "Fresh Expression" and of her own connection with the Anglican Centre.

With permission from the Director of the Anglican Centre, the Very Revd David Richardson, I am pleased to publish the article below.

People sometimes enquire about "Fresh Expressions" in our diocese. Apart from the fact that in many ways the entire diocese is a "Fresh Expression", Mary's story of Footsteps is a good example of a particular way we can transcend more traditional, inherited ways of expressing the Church's life.

Visit the Anglican Centre in Rome Website Here. All Saints Church has a website here.

Follow the read more link for Mary's story of "Footsteps".

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Revd Patrick Irwin Licensed in Bucharest

On 9 October the Revd Patrick Irwin (above left) was licensed as Chaplain of the Church of the Resurrection, Bucharest, Romania. The Archdeacon of the East, the Venerable Patrick Curran, (above right) presided at the service. Fr Irwin is also responsible for the Anglican congregation in Sofia, Bulgaria and has an important ecumenical role as the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarios (legate or representative) to the Patriarchs of Romania and Bulgaria.

The service was attended by ambassadors from the UK, Ireland and the USA, as well as German Lutheran pastors, a representative of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch and other Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic priests.

Fr Irwin comes to this diocese following a distinguished career as an army chaplain. Most recently he was the British chaplain at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) in Mons, Belgium, the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations, one of NATO's two strategic military commands.

The Church of the Resurrection, Bucharest, has a website here.

Phases of response to natural disaster

Photo courtesy of Canon Bill Squire

Following a natural disaster there are several phases of response required from the international community. The first priority is to get emergency relief and humanitarian aid to those affected, as quickly as possible. At a later stage, attention must be focussed on the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and the rehabilitation of communities through rebuilding their systems of support, housing, education and health - in short, helping those who have survived to rebuild their lives.

The Diocese in Europe is committed to both such phases of response to the devastating earthquake which hit Haiti on 12 January this year.

1.  Emergency relief and humanitarian aid
The Church of England channels most of her international relief and development support through the ecumenical agency, Christian Aid. Our diocesan appeal following the 12 January earthquake raised £26,048.71 for the relief efforts supported by Christian Aid. This provided basic supplies such as tarpaulins, hygiene kits and blankets for those affected. There are still 1.3 million Haitians who remain homeless, living in tents or under tarpaulin in temporary shelters. In the months since the devastating earthquake hurricane Tomas recently swept across the country causing severe flooding and adding to the people's struggle to survive. Now on the heels of these disasters is the prospect of widespread cholera infection. According to Christian Aid, our diocesan support for emergency relief and humanitarian aid to Haiti has enabled direct emergency relief to 603 families. So, a very sincere thank you to all who supported the emergency appeal.

2.  Reconstruction and rehabilitation
The task of reconstruction in the country is now underway. The Episcopal (Anglican) diocese of Haiti, with 100,000 members and 37 priests, has 250 schools from primary to university level, a hospital, as well as the only nursing school and the only school for disabled children in the country. Much of this Church infrastructure has been destroyed. I will report on how we will support this phase of reconstruction and rehabilitation through the Bishop's Advent Appeal in an upcoming article. I hope we can be generous, as we were in response to the emergency relief phase.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Anglicans and Old Catholics meet in Germany

The Anglican-Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council (AOCICC) is the official organ for nurturing the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht. Anglicans and Old Catholics have been in communion since 1931 through the Bonn Agreement, and in this Diocese in Europe the relationship of communion is much valued. The Council has just completed a further round of meetings in Beuggen, Germany. The Church pictured above is St Martin's Old Catholic Parish Church across the river in (Swiss) Rheinfelden, where we met for a service of Vespers before being the hosted by the Swiss Old Catholic Diocese and its Bishop Harald Rein for dinner.

The Diocese in Europe has two members on the Council: Mrs Maryon Jägers (above) from Holy Trinity Utrecht and myself. The Revd Carola von Wrangel, Rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Frankfurt serves as a Consultant from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Schloss Beuggen where we met was founded in 1190 by the order of Teutonic Knights (Marienritter), who used to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. Carola, a descendant of one of these aristocratic families of knights, poses below with a relative.

Read the Communiqué by clicking on read more

Geneva in solidarity with Haitians as they “move forward in hope”

The faithful of the Diocese in Europe have been praying for the people of Haiti since last January's devastating earthquake. There has already been a very generous response to our appeal for the emergency relief efforts. (More about that in another article). Meanwhile, in Geneva, one of the cities in Europe where there is both a Church of England parish and a US Episcopal parish, the two Anglican congregations collaborated in an event at the end of October, in solidarity with their Haitian sisters and brothers. An old personal friend of mine, the Revd Canon Ogé Beauvoir, the Dean of the Episcopal Seminary in Port au Prince was an invited guest and witness. The report below was sent to me by Katie Foot in Geneva.

It started with a deafening drum roll “earthquake” and ended in joyful songs of praise. “Psalms for Haiti”, held in Geneva’s old town (Protestant) cathedral on Saturday 30 October, led more than 400 people in a moving exploration of past devastation, present recovery and future hope.

Speaking of his visit to Haiti just days after the earthquake last January, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, recalled seeing hopeless, “empty places” but also hopeful “people who cleared away stones and dust”. This hope was further attested to by Revd Canon Ogé Beauvoir (pictured left), who told of his fellow compatriots’ determination to “stand up and walk” in the face of adversity.

The event raised over 10,000 Swiss Francs to help rebuild the Episcopal Church of Haiti’s cathedral complex and adjacent schools. Canon Beauvoir said that the reconstruction of the cathedral complex had become a national symbol of resurrection. “Just as the cross is the way to the resurrection,” he said, “the rebuilding of the cathedral is a symbol of Haiti’s need for spiritual, mental and physical reconstruction”.

While Haiti continues to suffer – not least due to the recent outbreak of cholera and the 1.3 million people who are still living in makeshift camps – it is also looking to the future. The Church is committed to raising “the torch of hope for Haiti”.

The testimonies were framed by spoken and sung psalms set to traditional and contemporary music (by Arvo Pärt, Howells, Monteverdi, Brahms, Berkeley, and Bernstein) and dramatically performed by the combined choirs of Geneva’s Anglican and Episcopal churches, directed by Shauna Beesley (Episcopal) with Keith Dale (Anglican) at the organ. A song in Creole added a Haitian flavour to the evening’s meditations and prayers.

Monday, 15 November 2010

November 2010 Book Selection

Here is a selection of books for November. Included is a publication bringing together the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his recent state visit to the UK. Also there is a timely work, given the present discussion in the Church of England on women bishops, on the present and future of women's ministry in the Anglican Communion. As this diocese is seeking to improve our green credentials, you may find the collection of thought on ecological issues from the Roman Catholic perspective to be stimulating. Other volumes include some good resources for pastoral ministry, and works on Church history and economic justice (the latter co-authored by our Archbishop Rowan Williams).

Just click on the read more link for the selection. Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Thriving team ministry at Holy Spirit Parish, Costa Blanca, Spain

The Anglican parish of the Holy Spirit in Costa Blanca has eight congregations and is one of the largest in the diocese in terms of numbers on the electoral roll. It is staffed along the English model of "team ministry", adapted to our circumstances in Europe. The parish is served by 3 priests: the senior chaplain is Fr Peter Edwards, whose role is parallel to a team rector in England, his team includes Frs Robin Carter and Brian Griffiths, whose roles are similar to those of team vicars. In addition there are a number of retired but active priests with Permission to Officiate, as well as a reader, Mr Stephen Carden. An effective team is essential to the oversight and care of this parish which covers a huge area between Valencia and Alicante. The clergy can easily clock up over 35,000 km a year in the course of their pastoral duties. The three chaplains are below, left to right, Fr Griffiths, Fr Edwards and Fr Carter.

Although many of the regular worshippers are on the older end of the age profile, some of the congregations have active programmes for children, including a Saturday club at the congregation in La Fustera. There are also programmes of outreach to nursing homes and hospices. The opportunities for growth and new members often arise in the course of work done by the clergy and readers at the time of bereavement and funerals. These can be key opportunities for members of the families of the bereaved to begin to ponder matters of faith and consider connecting to the community of the Church, where they find spiritual care, friendship and support.

Ecumenical relations on the ground are very important and the clergy maintain good working relations with the Roman Catholic clergy, whose buildings we use, as well as wider links with Orthodox priests and Protestant pastors. Fr Juan Bautista, parish priest of Nuestra Señora de la Almudena, Benidorm, joined us for the confirmation service held n Saturday 6 November, and is pictured above left.  Among those confirmed Mr Bill Worrall (pictured below), a lively new disciple, aged 93!

Also during my weekend pastoral visit, after one of the Sunday Eucharists an impromptu celebration was held for another young parishioner,  Mary Robinson (below), on her 90th birthday!

The parish website is here. 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Word of Encouragement from the Finance Officer re: Gift Aid

The Diocesan Finance Officer, Mr Nick Wraight (above), recently reported on the income made available to churches in our diocese through the UK Gift Aid scheme. Through Gift Aid, donations made by UK tax payers are augmented by an extra 25%.  To date in 2010 over £72,000 of additional funds have been made available to our parishes through the scheme and the total amount for the year is expected to be more than £95,000! 

Donations under the UK Gift Aid scheme can be made on a one-off basis, at irregular intervals or by regular pledging. However, presently less than 50% of our parishes avail themselves of the scheme, so there is clearly room for further benefit. Any who wish to support financially our congregations who are UK tax payers should consider taking advantage of this way to make their donations more tax efficient. It could increase the amount given to the parish by 25%, at no cost to the donor!

Donors do not need to be resident in the UK but must be UK tax payers. So, for example, retired persons living in France, who receive a UK pension may be eligible to channel their support to their local church this way.

The Finance Officer can give further advice, information and help, and is able to supply the necessary forms for Gift Aid on request. He can be contacted here.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Revd David Phillips: From Saskatchewan to Sicily

The Reverend David Phillips took up his duties as Priest-In-Charge of the Anglican Church of the Holy Cross, Palermo, Sicily, on 17 October. He comes to this diocese from Spiritwood and Timberland in the Diocese of Saskatchewan, Canada. We welcome Fr Phillips to the Diocese in Europe!

Anglican services have been held in Palermo since about 1814. The beautiful Church of the Holy Cross was opened in 1875. One of the more famous worshippers in the past was General George Patton. The Church website is here.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Interview with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands

Many people ask about the path leading to ordination as a deacon or priest in this diocese. I am pleased to post an interview with our Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO), the Revd William Gulliford, which illustrates the role of the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO), the Revd William Gulliford in the process. The interview first appeared in Crossways, the parish magazine of Christ Church, Vienna and was conducted by Archdeacon Patrick Curran.

I have slightly edited the original interview but it is still longer than most posts on this blog, but press the read more button for the complete article.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Young People Needed for WCC Stewards Programme 2011

Young Christians from around the world are invited to apply to the World Council of Churches (WCC) stewards programme for one of two hands-on learning experiences at major ecumenical meetings in 2011, the WCC Central Committee meeting, 8-24 February, and the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, 12-26 May. Applicants must be between the age of 18-30 years.

During the meetings stewards work in the areas of worship, conference room and press office staffing, documentation, sound, and other administrative and support tasks. Details of the two meetings where stewards are required are as follows:

1.  The WCC Central Committee meets every 18 months in Geneva, Switzerland to monitor and set directions to the Council's work. The meeting brings together about 150 church representatives, advisers and observers from WCC member churches and associated organizations worldwide. Twenty stewards will help to make this event happen.

2.  The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) will gather some 1000 participants from all over the world in Kingston, Jamaica. Participants of many different backgrounds will witness to the peace of God as both gift and responsibility of the entire human family. The IEPC stewards programme will have 45 participants, with one third of them coming from Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Before the meetings, stewards follow an ecumenical learning programme which exposes them to the key issues of the ecumenical movement worldwide. The last phase of the stewards programme, following the meeting, focuses on designing ecumenical projects which stewards will implement back home. Being a steward means hard work, but it is also a unique ecumenical experience of togetherness with young people from different churches, countries and cultures.

I encourage young people from our diocese to consider applying to be stewards at either of these events. The cross-cultural and linguistic skills and lived ecumenical experience of many of our young adults will be valuable gifts to bring. I also invite the priests of the diocese to consider encouraging applications from suitable young adults in their congregations.

Applicants are invited to send in the application form by 30 September 2010 for the Central Committee by 30 November 2010 for the IEPC.  More information on the WCC stewards programme can be found here.
Download the information brochure (pdf, 275 KB) here. Download the application form (pdf 60 KB) here.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Revd Bramwell Bearcroft joins the team in Aquitaine

The Reverend Bramwell Bearcroft takes up the position of Assistant Chaplain of the Anglican Church of the Aquitaine, France from 1 November 2010. (A date for his formal licensing has not yet been set).

Bramwell and his wife Jennifer is already well known to the parish as he has had Permission to Officiate for a couple of years already. The Chaplain of the Aquitaine, the Revd Paul Vrolijk, is delighted that Bramwell was willing to be appointed to this position and looks forward to his full integration into the pastoral team. The parish of the Aquitaine covers a huge area of SW France with many worshipping centres. As Assistant Chaplain, Bramwell will give particular attention to developing the work in the region of Bordeaux. He has already helped to establish a new congregation in Doudrac which attracts about 50 to 70 worshippers on a regular basis!

Bramwell and Jennifer have two daughters, Naomi and Hannah, both in university. We formally welcome Bramwell into our diocesan clergy.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Revd Howard Levitt SSC Licensed in Venice

On Saturday 16th October the Revd Fr Howard Levitt SSC was licensed by Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, the Venerable Jonathan Boardman, as Chaplain of St George's Venice with St Anthony the Abbot, Padua and Christ Church, Trieste. Fr Howard comes to this diocese from the diocese of London where he was vicar of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, a famous Anglo-Catholic shrine in the capital. We welcome Fr Howard to the Diocese in Europe.

The photo below was taken after the service, with some of the visiting clergy and the Curate of the parish, the Revd Sampson Ajuka.

The chaplaincy website is here.

Friday, 29 October 2010

New Canons Collated

At the annual Friends of the Diocese in Europe Eucharist on 27 October in St Matthew's Westminster, 5 new canons of the diocese were collated by Bishop Geoffrey. They are pictured above, from left to right: Christopher Jage-Bowler, Ian Hutchinson-Cervantes, Ulla Monberg, Trevor Whitfield and John Wilkinson.

The canons of the diocese form, with the Bishops, Dean, Archdeacons and Chancellors, the Cathedral Chapter of the diocese. The principal function of the chapter is to support the Bishop by prayer and counsel.

Normally there is only one cathedral in a diocese. It is the place where the bishop's cathedra or chair is located, as a sign of the bishop's ministry as guardian and teacher of the faith. Thus the cathedral is a physical sign of the unity of the people of the diocese with their bishop and with one another in that faith. The size of our diocese and its history have led to the granting of the status of pro-cathedral to two other churches. Each canon is assigned to a stall in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Gibraltar, or in either the Pro-Cathedral of St Paul in Malta or the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Brussels.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Bishop Geoffrey's Chaplain Moves to Diocese of Chichester

On Monday 25 October the Revd Kevin O'Brien was instituted and inducted into the parish of St John the Evangelist, Burgess Hill, in the Diocese of Chichester. Fr Kevin had served as Bishop Geoffrey's Chaplain and Office Manager for over 4 years. As the service was to take place during the time of our Bishop's Staff Meeting, we managed to field a good representation of archdeacons and bishops from our Diocese in Europe to support Fr Kevin and support him with our prayers as he undertakes this new ministry.

Fr Kevin is pictured above, 4th from the right, in the back row, surrounded by his close former colleagues, the archdeacons of the diocese, Bishop Geoffrey, Deacon Frances and myself. Bishop Mark Sowerby of Horsham who presided at the service is pictured in the back row with his crozier.

The Revd John-Henry Bowden, formerly chaplain of St George's Venice, with Padua and Trieste, is presently working as interim chaplain to Bishop Geoffrey until a permanent successor to Fr Kevin is appointed.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Canon Innes in Consultation with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme

On 12th October, the Revd Canon Dr Robert Innes took part in a consultation of Belgian church leaders with their Prime Minister Yves Leterme. The one hour meeting took place under the Lisbon Treaty provisions for dialogue between political and religious leaders. Canon Innes is 3rd from the right in the above picture.

Canon Innes, besides being Chancellor and Senior Chaplain of Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral in Brussels, is the President of the Central Committee of the Anglican Church in Belgium. Other Belgian religious leaders involved in the consultation included the Roman Catholic Bishop Harpigny and the head of the Belgian Protestant Council Dr Guy Liagre.

The discussion was wide-ranging, including themes of globalisation, poverty and ecology as well as the specific topic of the persecution of Christian believers in countries where the EU under its Belgian Presidency may be able to exert influence.

The Lisbon Treaty in Article 17 calls for the EU to "maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue" with churches and religious organisations.