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.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Bishop Geoffrey Licenses the Revds Gillian Strachan and Elizabeth Morris

On 12 September, Bishop Geoffrey licensed two priests as assistants in the Anglican parish of the Aquitaine in France. The Reverend Gillian Strachan (above right) is well known in Aquitaine as she has been serving as Assistant Curate there. Having completed the formal period of post ordination training she has now been appointed Assistant Chaplain. The Reverend Elizabeth Morris (above left) is a new appointment in this diocese. She was formerly the Curate in Yoxmere (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich diocese). She now joins the team of clergy and readers in the Aquitaine, under the leadership of the chaplain the Revd Paul Vrolijk. We welcome Liz and her husband Richard to this Diocese in Europe

Bishop Geoffrey led the eucharist at which the licensing took place in the Limeuil congregation of Aquitaine, which was most fitting as both priests have strong connections to this particular community. Gill's own discernment of her calling to be a priest happened during the time she worshipped at Limeuil. Liz, together with her husband Richard, helped to found that congregation many years ago!

Bishop Geoffrey is in the photo below with the Chaplain of Aquitaine, the Revd Paul Vrolijk on the right and another of the clergy of the parish, the Revd Caroline Gordon Walker on the left.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

St Michael and All Angels

29th September is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. There are three Archangels mentioned in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Michael ("who is like God?") is best known from the Revelation to St John where in a heavenly battle he defeats the dragon, Satan. Gabriel ("strength of God") announces the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary in St Luke's Gospel. Raphael ("healing of God") brings sight to Tobit in the book of the same name. (Those interested in interfaith dialogue will also be aware that Michael and Gabriel are also mentioned in the Qur'an).

There is a beautiful doxological prayer in Common Worship: Festivals for this feast:

Father in heaven,
the angels sing by day and night around your throne:
'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.'
With Michael, prince of the angels, who contends by our side,
with Gabriel, your herald, who brings glad tidings,
with Raphael, the protector, who ministers your healing,
and with the whole company of heaven,
we worship you, we give you glory,
we sing your praise and exalt you for ever.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

400th Anniversary of the KJV: a Diocese in Europe Connection

Frontispiece to the King James Bible, 1611, sh...Image via Wikipedia
2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, also known as the Authorised Version. This historic translation published in 1611 has made an exceptional contribution to the life of the Church and to the language and culture of English speaking nations in general. Arguably it was this English text that set the path for the development of our language and has exercised a cultural influence far beyond the works of Shakespeare.

Events are being planned in England in 2011 to help celebrate this anniversary. A General Synod motion passed last February asked that “dioceses, deaneries and parishes undertake local initiatives to celebrate and teach the Bible both within the Church and throughout wider society”. I encourage churches in our diocese to find ways to join in the celebrations. Perhaps at the very least there might be planned a service of Evensong with the readings from the Authorised King James Version.

Some may not be aware of an historical link between the KJV of the Bible and one of the parishes of this diocese in Europe. The translators who met in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey to go about their work from 1604 to 1611 borrowed much from the text of pioneering translator William Tyndale. Tyndale (1494-1536), a priest of the Church of England, produced the first English translation directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts. Many of the great phrases in common use in modern English are from Tyndale’s pen which then passed into the Authorised Version. Such expressions as:
My brother’s keeper (Genesis 4.9)
Wit's end (Psalm 107.27)
Skin of my teeth (Job 19.20)
Signs of the times (St Matthew 16.3)  
It was while Tyndale was living in Antwerp in 1534 that he published his translation of the New Testament. Antwerp, then, has its place in the history of the English Bible. Our present parish of St Boniface continues to serve the English speaking community in Antwerp where there has been an English priest and congregation since before the Reformation!

There is a website devoted to 400th anniversary of the KJV here.
For information about the parish of St Boniface Antwerp, you can visit their website here. The chaplain of St Boniface is the Revd Andrew Wagstaff and the parish deacon is the Revd Ann Babb.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Church Welcome Centre Opens in Alcossebre, Spain

The Mayor of Alcalà de Xivert and Alcossebre welcomed a new initiative by St Christopher’s Church on the Costa Azahar, Spain, when he formally opened the El Camino welcome centre on Friday 10th September.

A former shop unit in Alcossebre has been renovated by church members and will serve as a drop-in centre for English speaking residents and visitors. It also offers an outlet for second hand books and bric-a-brac to help fund the permanent ministry of the church.

The Reverend Paul Needle, priest-in-charge of St. Christopher’s, led prayers and blessed the new project with holy water at the opening ceremony at which the Mayor, Francisco Juan Mars, (pictured with Fr Paul above) cut the ribbon which was held by the two churchwardens. The Mayor promised the support and assistance of the ajuntamiento (municipality) to the church and community.

Fr Paul Needle says the El Camino welcome centre has been an aspiration for the past four years. It will also provide a venue for small church meetings and discussion groups, and will be available for other communnity groups to use. El Camino means “The Way” and thus the project is dedicated to Christ who called himself The Way to peace, faith and salvation.

Fr Paul commented that “People sometimes talk about churches ‘preaching to the converted’ or worshipping behind closed doors. At the church here we often do close the doors to keep cool in Summer and warm in Winter! But our church and its mission is about being active in the community and El Camino is proof of our commitment to work to serve the local people and visitors here”. St Christopher's is building on its experience of operating a similar centre in Vinaros every week for the past 15 months.

Information on the work of the parish in Alcossebre and Vinaros can be found on their website here.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Deacon Ank Robinson-Muller Moves to Rotterdam

The Reverend Ank Robinson-Muller, Assistant Curate of the Anglican Church of East Netherlands, is moving to be Assistant Curate of the Anglican Church of St Mary, Rotterdam. This position takes effect from 19 September 2010. Her new training incumbent (Ank is a vocational or permanent deacon currently in our diocesan Post Ordination Training programme) is the Revd Steve Axtell, the chaplain of St Mary's.

Ank's husband Remco is an Old Catholic priest serving in Vlissingen.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pope and Archbishop Reaffirm Ecumenical Commitment

On Friday 18 September, the second day of Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK, the Pontiff and the Archbishop of Canterbury, in their addresses and in their worship together at Westminster Abbey, gave prominence to the ecumenical relations between our two communions.

Bishops of the Roman Catholic and Anglican dioceses in England, Wales and Scotland met together with the Pope and Archbishop at Lambeth Palace in the afternoon. Archbishop Rowan recalled John Henry Newman's correspondence with Edward Bouverie Pusey, after the former's conversion to Roman Catholicism, that "it is what is unholy on both sides that keeps us apart". The Archbishop underlined the bishops' role as servants of the unity of Christ's people, and did not sidestep the seriousness of obstacles to full, restored communion. Nevertheless, he said that "no obstacles stand in the way of our seeking, as a matter of joyful obedience to the Lord, more ways in which to build up one another in holiness by prayer and public celebration together, by closer friendship, and by growing together both in the challenging work of service for all whom Christ loves, and mission to all God has made". Pope Benedict, in response, said "it is not my intention today to speak of the difficulties that the ecumenical path has encountered....Rather I wish to join you in giving thanks for the deep friendship that has grown between us and for the remarkable progress that has been made in so many areas of dialogue." He also recalled Newman's eirenical spirit to former Anglican colleagues and said to the Archbishop "in that same spirit of friendship, let us renew our determination to pursue the goal of unity in faith, hope, and love, in accordance with the will of our one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"

Later, at a moving celebration of Evening Prayer in Westminster Abbey, both Archbishop and Pope spoke of the role of the successor of St Peter with regard to the unity of Christ's Church. Pope Benedict recalled how he has "particular care for the unity of Christ's flock". The Archbishop responded by referring to Pope Benedict's predecessor's call "to reflect together on how the historic ministry of the Roman Church and its chief pastor may speak to the Church catholic - East and West, global north and global south, of the authority of Christ and his apostles to build up the Body in love".

Kneeling together at the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, as incense rose to accompany their intercession, the Pope prayed
Lord, hear the prayers of your people, and bring the hearts of believers together in your praise and in common sorrow for their sins. Heal the divisions among Christians; that we may rejoice in the perfect unity of your Church, and move toghether as one to eternal life in your kingdom. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Chrsit, your Son,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever

(Pictures from!/papalvisit?ref=ts

Friday, 17 September 2010

Ecumenical Significance of Pope Benedict's Visit to the UK

In his first homily on Thursday 16th September during his visit to the UK, Pope Benedict XVI has underlined the importance of ecumenical relations. At the mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, the Pope mentioned the trust and friendship between the Roman Catholic Church and the [Presbyterian] Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is, of course, the branch of the Anglican Communion in Scotland. "Let us give thanks to God for the promise which ecumenical understanding and cooperation represents for a united witness to the saving truth of God's word in today's rapidly changing society", said the Pope in his sermon.

On Friday 17th, the Pope visits the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and later will pray with Archbishop Rowan at the shrine of St Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey, in the context of an ecumenical evensong. This will be a strong sign of the common Christian faith shared by Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The papal visit is not without some controversy, and there has been criticism of the visit by individuals and groups. Nevertheless, Christian witness to the Gospel in our complex society will be strengthened when Anglicans and Roman Catholics can speak and act together.

The ecumenical significance of the visit is attracting some widespread attention. Already today I have given two interviews to international media sources: one in French to CBC Radio Canada, and one in Spanish to RTVE, the Spanish National Public Radio.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Sudanese Joy in Vaasa, Finland

The Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, Jonathan LLoyd, visited our Sudanese congregation at Vaasa, Finland, last Sunday 12 September. In the above photo is Archdeacon Jonathan with Fr Amos Manga, our priest responsible for the Sudanese community in Finland and three newly baptised children, Joshua, Gyiniwa and Joanna, with their families.

Archdeacon Jonathan said "The Anglican community at Vaasa are worshipping God with joy and celebration. They yearn to return to their country from exile, when Sudan returns to peace. The election in January will be a key moment. It was wonderful to spend time with Fr Amos and the congregation. I was greatly encouraged by their Christian witness and real sense of joyful hope."

Please pray for the people of Sudan who go to the polls on 9 January 2011 to vote on the future of Southern Sudan - whether it should become a separate state. Please also pray for Fr Amos who is currently receiving treatment for cancer.
Some of the joy of the eucharist, which begins and ends with dancing, is portrayed in the photo below.The bottom pictures is of the Archdeacon with members of the Sudanese Mothers' Union in Vaasa.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Workshop for Lay Ministers: The Mystery of the Trinity

The Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, the Diocesan Director of Training, has informed me that there are two or three places still available for the upcoming workshop for diocesan Readers and Readers in Training. Entitled “The Mystery of the Trinity”, the workshop will take place at St. Columba’s House, Woking from 4pm (teatime) Wednesday 6th October to after lunch, c. 2pm on Friday 8th October. This event has been planned in response to the request by many of our lay ministers to spend some time to reflect together on a purely theological theme. Past workshops have been more focussed on practical or liturgical training in an area of ministry important to readers.

The resource person for the workshop will be the Revd Elaine Labourel. Elaine is the assistant priest in St Mark's, Versailles and has particular responsibility for the daughter Church of St Paul in Gif Sur Yvette, and is one of our Diocesan Reader Selectors. She is a tutor for readers-in-training at St. John’s Nottingham and teaches Anglicanism at the Institut Catholique in Paris. Elaine has a BA in Theology and Ministry from St. John’s College, Nottingham, and is currently completing an MA in Liturgy at the College of the Resurrection Mirfield. Prior to ordination Elaine was an adult education teacher.

St Columba's House has recently been refurbished and all rooms are en-suite. Woking is easily accessible from both Heathrow and Gatwick airports and from the Eurostar terminus at St Pancras International. Readers are eligible to request CME grant support for this event, and should approach their priest for information.

For further information please contact the Director of Training here.

Bishop Irja Askola Consecrated as Bishop of Helsinki

On Sunday 12 September the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland consecrated Irja Askola to be Bishop of Helsinki. Irja is the first woman bishop in the Finnish Church. She is pictured above, (second from the left, in the green vestments), flanked by women bishops from Sweden, Germany and Denmark.

Bishop Irja succeeds Bishop Eero Huovinen, a good friend of the Diocese in Europe, who had been bishop of Helsinki for nearly 20 years. Good relations with the Diocese of Helsinki are very important as the Chaplaincy of St Nicholas receives generous support from the Finnish Church towards the work of our own priests.

The two hour service was televised live across the country. The Archbishop of Turku, Kari Mäkinen, presided at the liturgy. He was assisted by co-consecrating bishops from Finland (Matti Repo, and Mikko Heikka, Espoo), Norway (Olav Skjevesland), Denmark (Elisabeth Dons Christensen) and Namibia (Thomas Shivute). The Anglican Co-Consecrator was Bishop Edward Darling, the former Bishop of Limerick in the Church of Ireland.

Several Finnish national figures were present including President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi. Guests from other Churches included my good friend Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki who represented the Orthodox Church. (Metropolitan Ambrosius and I worked together on Anglican-Orthodox dialogue for many years. He and I are pictured below). Fr Heikki Huttenen, an Orthodox priest and General Secretary of the Finnish Council of Churches, read the first lesson. Vicar General Fr Wieslaw Swiech, represented the Roman Catholic Church. The Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, and I were both guests from the Church of England.

In his introduction to the service, Archbishop Mäkinen spoke of the ministry of bishop as being simultaneously one of fellowship and of separation, of unity and of loneliness. He stressed the demands of episcopal ministry in the Capital Region where "a plethora of lifestyles, a multitude of different cultures, the separation of individuals one from another, loneliness and diversity of religious life are facts of everyday life". The sermon was preached by Irja herself who spoke of a spirituality which stresses three things: a yearning for a merciful and gracious God; a yearning for trust and communication between peoples; and a call to a lifestyle of moderation.

The Church of Finland and the Church of England are in communion through the Porvoo Agreement.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Greetings and a message of peace to Muslim dialogue partners

Inter-religious dialogue has an important place in the work of any bishop. On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I carry some responsibility for relations with Muslim leaders who are engaged in Muslim initiatives, such as the dialogue resulting from A Common Word Between Us and You, a letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars in 2007 and sent to Christian leaders throughout the world. Additionally, this vast diocese which I serve includes two countries where the majority of the population are Muslim: Morocco and Turkey. Consequently I sent a letter of friendship and greeting to dialogue partners and Muslim contacts, on this the feast of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. The text of the letter is below.

I send you warm wishes on the great feast of Eid al-Fitr which concludes the holy month of Ramadan. As the Muslim community throughout the world has been observing this sacred time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, your Christian friends have been accompanying you in our prayers that God will bless your faithfulness.
In recent weeks the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan has underlined the need for Muslims and Christians to unite our efforts and encourage governments, international agencies and our faith communities to respond generously to assist our brothers and sisters who are suffering great loss. Such joint commitment and action will help to show the world the compassion and love of Almighty God. Many of us will be aware of individuals who do not share our view of friendship and cooperation and who have even threatened to commit acts of desecration to sacred scriptures which will cause deep offence to the faithful. We distance ourselves from all such acts of irreverence, disrespect and provocation.
I pray that in the face of the challenges in our world, our interreligious dialogue will go from strength to strength, and that our friendship, mutual understanding and trust will grow deeper. It is also my prayer that as Christians and Muslims we may find ways to bear witness to the values we share: compassion, generosity, charity towards our neighbour, and mutual respect among all peoples.
At this joyous season, may God bless you and your family and friends with peace.
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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Revd Canon Andrew Hawken to be the Chaplain of Midi-Pyrénées and Aude

On 1 September, the Revd Canon Andrew Hawken began a new ministry as chaplain of Midi-Pyrénées and Aude. He comes to us from the Diocese of Oxford where he was vicar of St Helen's, Benson.

Midi-Pyrenees and Aude is large and vibrant parish in the South West of France consisting of 6 congregations. It covers an area of 46,000 square kms. (In this diocese we often use a more convenient measure - Wales! Midi-Pyrénées and Aude is twice the size of Wales). There are over 100,000 English-speakers living in the area.

The work in this part of France began back in the 1960s in Toulouse, stimulated by the growth of British collaboration in the aircraft industry, initially Concorde and then Airbus. In more recent years, the vineyards, quieter pace and congenial climate have contributed to an influx of more, mainly retired people from the UK.

Canon Hawken will head up a team of two assistant priests, the Revd June Hutchinson and the Revd Canon Tony Jewiss, and three licensed readers, Mel Fancy, Adrian Wilson and Judy Wilson. There are also 8 clergy and 1 reader retired in the area with permission to officiate.

Excellent relations are maintained with the local Roman Catholic bishops. All our congregations use Roman Catholic parish churches for our services.

We welcome Fr Andrew and his wife Sylvia to our diocese. (Archdeacon Ken Letts will license Fr Andrew as chaplain on 23 October).