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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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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Myths about the Diocese in Europe: Number 1 - "It's Just the Brits Abroad"


Many in the UK are surprised to discover that the Church of England has a diocese with significant, historic and expanding work on the continent of Europe together with Morocco, Turkey and "all the Russias".  And many who do know about this Diocese in Europe assume that we are simply "the Brits abroad”. But this is far from the case. Globalisation has brought to Europe peoples from every part of the world. Many of these are Christians whose mother tongue or international language is English.

Some of our 270 congregations have a majority of their members from one particular nationality or ethnic background. They might be English or British, but also Tamil, Nigerian, Sudanese, Congolese, Turkish, Ghanaian and American. The largest parish in membership could easily be the “White Nile Congregations” of Finland, whose priest, the Revd Amos Manga, cares for several hundred Sudanese families. But most of our congregations are made up of members from a mixture of at least a dozen different nationalities or ethnic backgrounds. Some churches have over 30 different nationalities present at Sunday worship. Our present group of ordinands and those in our Post-Ordination Training programme include men and women of Nigerian, South African, Sudanese, Turkish, Finnish, American, as well as English ethnic origin. No wonder my chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, calls the diocese “the Anglican Communion in miniature”.

This rich diversity is a gift. It helps to sharpen our understanding of what God is calling us to be and to do in Europe. The Church is to make visible, in her life and witness, the unity which is God’s will for all people. In a world of divided peoples and nations the Church is to be a beacon of a diverse humanity living in unity. The Bible does not speak of the peoples of the world as if we were a uniform monochrome mass; it speaks of the nations. St Paul teaches that distinctions of race and tradition are not barriers to unity (Colossians 3.11). The vision of the book of Revelation is of God's kingdom made up of people of "every language, tribe, people and nation" (Revelation 5.9). God brings us together as Church, rich in all our diversity, for a common purpose, to be a sign of unity, hope and reconciliation for the human family.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you +David. I don't like the term 'ex-pat' that people sometimes us of us (without having visited us!) because of its cultural connotations - and because it's simply not accurate. 'International' is better though even that doesn't quite communicate the richness of the mix that you describe. It produces some surprises. There are plenty of native English speakers who attend our french language service, and plenty of francophone people at our English language services - for a whole variety of reasons. It's also true that here British people are a minority (the largest one, probably, but still a minority) - and indeed that Anglicans are a minority (the largest one, probably, but still a minority) - which is why I like your definition (at least I think it's yours!) of an Anglican as someone who goes to an Anglican church.

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  2. +David - I just wanted to endorse what you have written here. Epiphany is not a public holiday in the Czech Republic, (though it is in neighbouring Austria and Slovakia), so I marked the festival with an evening Eucharist. We were only 10 adults + 1 child present but represented eight different nationalities. All except a Canadian visitor, are regular members of the congregation. Likewise, I think only three of us have an Anglican background before becoming part of the Prague Chaplaincy congregation.

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  3. Your experience CZ is duplicated in so many places across the diocese. It was a myth that needed "busting". Have you any suggestions about other myths that need to be addressed?

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  4. +David - To answer your question. The myth that somehow we are either financed by the Church of England centrally or by the British government as the spiritual arm of the Department of Social Security. Quite a number of visitors, particularly British ones, seem to consciously or subconsciously think that this the case!

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  5. Thanks for this post and comments. We have many nationalities represented here in BCN too, although it is a challenge to fully include everyone and help them feel valued as equal contributors to the life of the church. We are trying but many remain on the fringes, as if they are guests at the English/American church. Any suggestions?

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  6. Some places invite particular groups to host an event - say an African music event, or Malagasy feast.

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