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.

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.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Revd Canon Nigel Elbourne, RIP

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of the Revd Canon Nigel Elbourne who died of a heart attach on 29th September at his home in Normandy, 20 days after his 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He leaves his wife Christine and a daughter, son and grandchildren. Canon Elbourne retired to France from Chester Diocese and was active in giving support to our congregation in Caen, for which he had Permission to Officiate.

Fr Nigel was committed to ecumenism throughout his priestly ministry. In retirement he continued his devotion to Christian unity and considerably strengthened ecumenical relations in Normandy. Right up until his death he was a frequent representative of our Church at regional ecumenical meetings, and had built up personal links with Roman Catholics, Reformed, Adventists, Russian Orthodox and others.

Fr Nigel was a frequent worshipper at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Sées, where he had been given personal permission to receive communion by the last bishop of that diocese. He has also preached there on occasion, helped with the music, and had a slot on the RC local radio station.

Fittingly, his Funeral Mass on 7 October was held in held in Sées Cathedral. The Diocese was represented by the Revd Matthew Harrison of St George's Paris, who reported on the extraordinary ecumenical welcome given at the Cathedral for Fr Nigel's requiem.

The mass was presided by the diocesan priest-administrator - as the see is vacant at the moment. The cathedral dean gave an appreciation at the beginning of mass. The priest with diocesan ecumenical responsibility preached the homily. There were nine concelebrating RC clergy, from the small diocese, and a permanent deacon. And a message from the last bishop, who is now at Bayeux/Lisieux. (And one from the bishop of Chester.) The Eglise Reformée pasteur read the gospel. The Orthodox priest from Caen offered the commendation prayer and censed the coffin. Fr Varty (another retired priest with Permission to Officiate in this diocese) also gave an appreciation and I did the general intercessions. The Cathedral also laid on a vin d'amitié in their rooms afterwards. Many people were there.
Thank you Fr Matthew for sending this account of what was clearly a moving occasion. It is heartening and humbling to us all to know of the sometimes exceptional kindness of the local Church in France. It is indeed an encouragement that Fr Nigel's faithful ecumenical work was acknowledged in such a way by our partners. We give thanks to God for his life and ministry. May he rest in peace.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Revd Canon Ben Eaton Retires from St John's St Raphael

The Revd Canon Ben Eaton retired as Priest-in-Charge of St John's, St Raphael, France on Sunday 26th September. Fr Ben has served 8 years in this Riviera parish, and has a long and very distinguished ministry in this diocese. Prior to St Raphel, he served for many years in St George's Barcelona, then later in Holy Trinity, Maisons Laffitte.

Fr Ben was born in South Carolina, studied in Lebanon, trained for the priesthood in Puerto Rico, was ordained for the diocese of Ecuador and served parishes in Exeter and Southwark. He is a truly international priest who has brought a richness of experience and a warm pastoral heart to his ministry.

On his penultimate Sunday, 19th September I was able to be present in St John's to share in the warm and moving tribute paid by the parish to Ben and his wife Anne. We also managed to squeeze in a moment for quiet refreshment and contemplation, pictured below!

We wish Ben and Anne a happy and blessed retirement.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Revd Hazel Door Appointed Assistant Chaplain, Poitou-Charentes

On 3 October, the Reverend Hazel Door, formerly Priest-in-Charge of the Anglican Church of Christ Church, Brittany, was licensed as Assistant Chaplain of the Anglican Church of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes. The Chaplain, the Revd Michael Hepper, conducted the service as commissary of the Bishop for this occasion.

The addition of Hazel to the ministry team of Poitou-Charentes is much welcome. Regular services are held in 10 different locations throughout this huge pastoral area. In addition to Hazel, Fr Michael is assisted by several retired priests with Permission to Officiate and 10 Readers. The parish website is here.

Hazel's own vocation to the priesthood was discerned in this parish and her curacy served here before her appointment as Priest-in-Charge of Christ Church Brittany several years ago. We pray for God's blessings as she settles into a new ministry back in her "home turf".

Monday, 18 October 2010

October 2010 Book Selection

Here is a selection of books for October. It includes a critique of "Fresh Expressions". As someone deeply committed to the mission of the Church I welcome this book. Much in the Fresh Expressions movement is indeed refreshing but some of its theological presumptions need to be challenged. The Davison/Milbank volume is a start. Included in the selection are some good pastoral, biblical and historical studies.

Normally I like to list books that are not going to break the bank. However, there is one this month which is pricier than the normal works reviewed. I include the Lucien Leusteau volume (at a hefty £85) because it may well be of interest to some in this diocese as it deals with a period in the recent history of Eastern Christianity.

Just click on the read more link for the selection. Buona lettura!

Andrew Davison and Alison Milbank, For the Parish: A Critique of Fresh Expressions, SCM, ISBN 978-0-33404-365-2, £19.99.
The Fresh Expressions movement emerging out of the Mission Shaped Church report has become a central focus of the mission work of the Church of England in early twenty first century. However, in this new book Dr Andrew Davison of Westcott House Cambridge and Dr Alison Milbank of Nottingham University and Southwell Minster argue that is a mistake to reject the Church of England’s traditional parochially based approach to mission in favour of an approach based on Fresh Expressions. They argue that because the forms of the Church are an embodiment of the faith, they need to be determined by theological tradition rather than simply by accommodation to the surrounding culture, and that the traditions of the parish church represent ways in which time, space and community are ordered in relation to God and the gospel. In their view this means that the parochial system represents a more theologically adequate basis for mission than the network approach favoured by Fresh Expressions and is capable of bearing a more robust Christian witness to contemporary society. This book is worth reading both as a critique of Fresh Expressions and as an argument for the continuing missiological importance of the parish.

Lucien Leusteau (ed), Eastern Christianity and the Cold War, 1945-1991, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-41547-197-8, £85.00. This collection of essays edited by the Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Aston University examines the relationship between the Orthodox churches and the political regimes in their countries during the Cold War. It provides a comprehensive overview of the relationship between Eastern Christianity and politics from the end of the Second World War to the fall of communism, covering forty Orthodox churches, including the churches of the Orthodox diaspora in Africa, Asia, America and Australia. The essays in the volume, which are by an international collection of writers and which draw on research in recently-opened archives and publications in a wide range of European languages, analyse church-state relations on both sides of the Iron Curtain. They explore the following key themes: the relationship between Orthodox churches and political power; religious resistance to communism; the political control of churches; religion and propaganda; monasticism and theological publications; religious diplomacy within the Orthodox commonwealth; and religious contacts between East and West. Although this is an expensive book it is a very important resource for anyone wanting to understand the development of the Orthodox churches in second half of the twentieth century.

Michael Mitton, A Heart to Listen (revd. ed.), Bible Reading Fellowship, ISBN 978-1-84101-747-1, £8.99. Michael Mitton is a freelance writer and consultant and Adviser in Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of Derby. The premise of his book A Heart to Listen, which has now been re-issued by BRF in a revised edition, is that we live in a world in which listening has become a lost art. We forget about listening not only to others, but to God, to ourselves, to our communities - and even to the needs of our planet. However, if we do not listen, we cannot hope to grow in wisdom, to deepen relationships with others, or to share our faith in sensitive and appropriate ways. In A Heart to Listen Mitton explores how, with the help of God, we can relearn how to listen. He combines biblical reflection with insights from many years of listening ministry in the UK and abroad and concludes each chapter with an episode from a creative story that tells of people listening and learning from one another in a challenging cross-cultural setting. This is a very helpful book for anyone who wants to learn how to listen in order to build deeper and more caring relationships with God and others.

Melvin Tinker, Reclaiming Genesis: The Theatre of God's Glory - Or a Scientific Story? Monarch, ISBN 978-0-00727-612-7, £8.99. In spite of its misleading subtitle this new book by the well known Evangelical writer Melvin Tinker is not another attempt to address the question about how we should relate the early chapters of Genesis to discoveries in the natural sciences. His book refers to this issue, but that is not its focus. Rather, Tinker argues, when reading Genesis 1-12 we need to focus on the intended meaning of the text for its original readers. For example, God has no genealogy, unlike the gods of the surrounding nations. 'The two great lights' are so described because the words 'sun' and 'moon' referred to regional deities. The description of God resting on the seventh day, the day of contemplation of his good creation, would have been a challenge to the Babylonians who considered seven an unlucky number. When Genesis 1-12 is read on its own terms in this way, says Tinker, we find that it is full of meaning, that it challenges not only the ancient world but also the world today and that it presents us with the foundational themes of the Christian faith: God's mercy, human dignity and purpose and God's mission to heal the nations. This is a helpful study of the early chapters of Genesis that will be useful to anyone wanting to get to grips with its theological meaning.

Stephen Tomkins, The Clapham Sect: How Wilberforce's Circle Transformed Britain,
Lion Hudson, ISBN 978-0-74595-306-9, £10.99
The term ‘Clapham sect’ was first used in an article in the Edinburgh Review in 1844. As a title for the group concerned it is doubly misleading. The group was not a sect and only some of its members had links with Clapham. However, the name has stuck and is used to refer to a group of Evangelical Christians, linked by friendship and family relations, who were prominent in England from about 1790 to 1830 and who campaigned for the abolition of slavery and promoted missionary work at home and abroad. The group centred on the church of John Venn, Rector of Clapham (hence the name) and its other members included well known figures such as William Wilberforce, Henry Thornton, James Stephen and Zachary Macaulay. In his new book the writer and broadcaster Stephen Tomkins tells the story of the group and the religious and political campaigns in which they were involved and assesses their long term influence on Victorian Britain and the British Empire. This is a useful introduction for anyone who wants to know more about the Clapham Sect and even for those familiar with it the book addresses new issues, such as the issue of why Wilberforce and other members of the group were prepared to support the continuation of a form of temporary slavery in Sierra Leone.

Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, Eerdmans, ISBN 978-0-80282-989-4, £12.99. Professor Miroslav Volf is widely regarded as one of the most significant and creative theologians writing today. In this book, in which he draws on his own experience of persecution in the former Yugoslavia, he addresses the issue of what it means to remember rightly. We live in a time when it is generally accepted that past wrongs - genocides, terrorist attacks or personal injustices - should be constantly remembered. Volf, however, proposes that letting go of such memories - after a certain point and under certain conditions - may actually be the appropriate course of action. While agreeing with the claim that to remember a wrongdoing is to struggle against it, Volf notes that there are too many ways to remember wrongly, perpetuating the evil committed rather than guarding against it. In Volf’s view ‘the proper goal of the memory of wrongs suffered - its appropriate end – is the formation of the communion of love between all peoples, including victims and perpetrators’ and the achievement of this goal may involving releasing the memory of wrongs that have been done to us. This is another important study by Volf which will help anyone who reads it to think more deeply about what it means to remember as a follower of Jesus Christ.

David Wilkinson, Christian Eschatology and the Physical Universe, T&T Clark, ISBN 978-0-56704-546-1, £24.99 It has long been accepted that Christian thinking about the doctrine of creation has to take place in dialogue with what the natural sciences have to tell us about the origins of our world and of the universe. In his new book, Dr David Wilkinson, Principal of St John’s College Durham and previously lecturer in science and religion at Durham University, argues that the same is true of Christian thinking about eschatology. Overall, the picture that science paints of the future of the physical universe is one of ultimate futility and this raises a challenge to a Christian theology which speaks of hope for the future of creation. In Dr Wilkinson’s view, the best way to engage with this challenge is to take seriously the question of the relationship between creation and new creation and to look at this question in terms of the tension between continuity and discontinuity that we see in the resurrection. Viewed in this way eschatology involves the transformation rather than the destruction of this creation and this view of the matter opens up the possibility of a constructive dialogue with the scientific view of the future. As well as presenting this overall view about how we should understand eschatology, the book also explores the relationship of eschatology to our approaches to the biological world, providence, hope, ethics, and Christian apologetics and considers how a robust Christian eschatology can engage constructively with questions of hope in contemporary culture. This is an important study for anyone wanting to think more deeply about the nature of the Christian hope for the future of creation.

Nigel Yates, Love Now, Pay Later, SPCK, ISBN 978-0-28105-908-9, £ 16.99. Professor Nigel Yates, who died last year, was the Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Wales, Lampeter and specialised in the history of religion in modern Britain and Europe. This posthumously published study by him has the subtitle ‘sex and religion in the fifties and sixties’ and this subtitle explains what the book is about. There is a popular perception that the 1950s was a religiously and morally conservative decade with the 1960s reacting against it and introducing a period of rapid moral and religious change. Professor Yates challenges this perception. On the basis of a wide range of contemporary sources - books (including novels), magazines, newspapers, advertising, fashion catalogues, films and television, as well as a number of significant archive collections he argues that changes in attitudes to religion and morality in the 1960s were only made possible by developments that had already taken place in the 1950s. Because our contemporary society has been shaped by what took place in the two decades surveyed by Professor Yates, this is an important study for anyone who wants to understand the roots of attitudes towards religion and morality in Britain today.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Diocesan Vocations Seminar

From Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th October, 9 postulants for Holy Orders gathered at St Columba's House, Woking, for the Diocesan Vocations Seminar. This annual event, led by our Director of Ordinands, the Revd William Gulliford, is an important step for those in our diocese who are contemplating ordination as deacons or priests. The days together follow the pattern of a national Church of England Bishops' Advisory Panel (BAP), which selects those to be trained for the sacred ministry. Postulants from our diocese are first approved by our assessment team at the annual Vocations Seminar then proceed to a national BAP.

Fr Gulliford was assisted by other members of the Ministry Team of the Diocese, Canon Ulla Monberg, Deacon Frances Hiller, Ms Margaret Jeffery as well as Bishop Geoffrey and myself together with some of the Assistant Directors of Ordinands, the Revd Barbara Moss, Canons Michael Bullock, Robert Innes and Malcolm Bradshaw. Three of our former ordinands, now in training or ordained and serving other dioceses returned to give presentations on their experience of the process of selection and training. They are pictured below: Simon Durrant (studying in Bristol), The Revd Ngozy Njuku (now a curate in the diocese of St Albans), and the Revd Ruan Crew (now a curate in the diocese of Bristol).

This year we had 9 postulants (6 women and 3 men) come from 7 different countries across our diocese. Unfortunately a further 2 were unable to attend, one due to illness, and another due delays with his UK visa). Vocations to the sacred ministry are flourishing across the diocese. At any given time our Director of Ordinands is dealing with about 40 individuals in various stages of discernment.

Friday, 15 October 2010

General Synod Election Results

The votes for members of General Synod from this Diocese in Europe have been counted and the result verified by the Diocesan Registrar. The results are as follows:

For the House of Laity our members are:
Canon Ann Turner (Antwerp), Mrs Madeleine Holmes (Aquitaine)

For the House of Clergy our members are:
The Revd Canon Ian Hutchinson Cervantes (Madrid), the Revd Canon Debbie Flach (Lille)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

New Area Dean for Belgium and Luxembourg

The Revd Andrew Wagstaff (above), chaplain of St Boniface Church, Antwerp, was commissioned by Bishop Geoffrey as Area Dean of Belgium and Luxembourg on 9 October, at the Eucharist which concluded the sessions of the synod of the Archdeaconry of NW Europe. Fr Andrew succeeds the Revd Canon Ray Jones who retired earlier this year.

The Area Dean will work under Archdeacon John de Wit (who is based in Utrecht, Netherlands) in providing pastoral support to the clergy of Belgium and Luxembourg. He will also work with the President of the Anglican Central Committee for Belgium, the Revd Canon Dr Robert Innes, Chancellor of Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, Brussels. (A unique and helpful feature of our Anglican life in the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is that our clergy in those countries receive a traitement or stipend support from the state. Canon Innes represents our Anglican Church in all dealings with the Belgian State, including the matter of traitements).

Fr Andrew's duties as Area Dean will include chairing the Anglican Council for Belgium, which is more or less equivalent to a Deanery Synod, constituted as a sub-committee of the Archdeaconry Synod.

We offer Fr Andrew our congratulations and the assurance of our prayers as he takes on this additional responsibility. The appointment is for three years. St Boniface Church website is here.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Readers Explore Theological Theme Together

From 6th to 8th October several of our licensed Readers and some readers-in-training gathered at St Columba's House, Woking, for a workshop to explore a theological theme together. The topic was "The Mystery of the Trinity" and the facilitator was the Revd Elaine Labourel, Assistant Chaplain of Versailles.

The Director of Training, the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg is delighted that our Readers and trainees wish to spend time deepening their theological knowledge. Past training events have tended to focus on some practical aspects to the ministry of Reader, such as preaching and funeral ministry, but our Readers take very seriously their role as lay theologians and enjoy the opportunity to hone these skills as well through engaging in theological exploration together.

The participants are pictured above. In the back row left to right: Julian Simpson (Copenhagen), Michael Brooke (Coutances), John Matthews (Poitou-Charentes and the Vendée), Celia Paterson (Madrid), Debbie Geater (Costa del Sol East), the Revd Elaine Labourel (Versailles). In the front row, left to right: Barry Mason (Costa del Sol West), Sheila Marshall (Aquitaine), Grada Schradee (Rotterdam), Canon Monberg (Director of Training), Mary de Vachon (Monaco), John Errey (Pau). Missing from the picture are Jan Waterschoot (Eindhoven) and Roy Damary (Geneva).

There are over 100 licensed readers in the diocese and about a further 40 in training. They offer invaluable help to the clergy in parish ministry, particularly in leading services of the word, preaching and teaching. The preparation to be a Reader, following selection for this ministry, normally takes three years of theological study and practical learning.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Area Dean of France Appointed

The Revd Canon Trevor Whitfield, the Chaplain of Holy Trinity, Maisons-Laffitte, has been appointed Area Dean for France.

This is the first time there has been an Area Dean in this Archdeaconry, and although it does not easily fall into natural “areas” we drawn on a model already in place in the Gibraltar Archdeaconry where the Area Dean functions as an assistant to the Archdeacon, working with him and with the Lead Bishop in the oversight and pastoral care of the Archdeaconry as a whole. Thus as Area Dean, Canon Whitfield will be responsible to Archdeacon Ken Letts and through him to me as lead bishop for France. Any new enquiries or new issues should still be directed to the Archdeacon in the first instance, who will then consult with the Area Dean about which of the two will take the lead in follow up and support.

We offer Fr Trevor our congratulations and the assurance of our prayers as he takes on this additional responsibility, sharing in the overall pastoring and oversight of this exciting archdeaconry with its many pastoral and mission challenges. The term of the appointment is three years.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011 Resources

The Churches of Jerusalem have prepared the material for the 2011 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which will be observed from 18 - 25 January. A phrase from the Acts of the Apostles (2.42), "One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer," has been chosen to be the theme by representatives of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Orthodox, Syrian, Armenian and Melkite Churches in the Holy City. The Week of Prayer is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church.

Jerusalem is the mother church of all Christians. The 2011 material encourages a divided Christendom to rediscover the values that bound together the early church in Jerusalem, and to seek a renewed commitment to unity based on the experience of the first Christians. WCC General Secretary Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit says,
"For Christians in Jerusalem, who live in continuity with the apostolic community of Jerusalem, the mother church of us all, such unity entails prayer, reflection and a cry arising within a context of despair and suffering. Together with them we trust that God is ever vigilant as we pray for peace and justice for all inhabitants of the Holy Land."
Most of the congregations in the Diocese in Europe already join with Christians of other tradtions in celebrating the Week of Prayer each year. Perhaps those who have not taken advantage of this ecumenical opportunity might begin to make contact with neighbouring churches to begin some joint planning for January 2011.

Resources, including biblical reflections and prayers for each of the eight days, are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German on the website of the World Council of Churches.

Wooden crosses near the entrance to the holy s...Image via Wikipedia

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Autumn 2010 Book Selection

It has been a couple of months since I posted book reviews on this site. Now that the more relaxed pace of summer is well and truly over in the northern hemisphere, here is a selection of some current books for solid, autumn reading. I have included 9 reviews below. They come from Dr Martin Davie, the Theological Secretary to the Bishops. There are works on Pauline theology, ecology, ethics, a timely book n Pope Benedict's thought, "fresh expressions", and much more....

Just click on the read more link for the selection. Feliç lectura!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

International Interfaith Meeting for Peace, Barcelona

The Community of Sant’Egidio and the Archdiocese of Barcelona are hosting the International Meeting for Peace in Barcelona from 3 – 5 October. The theme for this year’s gathering is “Living Together in a Time of Crisis: Family of Peoples, Family of God”.

This annual gathering is part of the legacy of the historical Day of Prayer of Assisi, convened by Pope John Paul II in 1986. It brings together leaders of Christian Churches, world religions, distinguished representatives of international politics and culture, men and women, searching for peace through dialogue throughout the world. Approximately 500 representatives are joined by thousands of other people, especially youth, who meet explore how religious faith, dialogue and mutual understanding can help people face the challenges of the contemporary world.

One panel on Monday afternoon on “Alms Giving and Justice” particularly intrigued me as I recall a time when Christians were challenged about their views on "charity" as being a limited response to the needs of the world which called for "justice". The presentations were stimulating and encouraging, and pointed to the ways that charity and justice are related in the theologies of the great religions.

Dr Mustafa Çagrıcı, the Grand Mufti of Istanbul began by reflecting on how the Ramadan fast reminds Muslims of the plight of the poor. He commented that every human being, no matter how impoverished, can offer something to society –and that offering is charity. Professor Guiseppe Laras, the Chief Rabbi of Milan reminded us that we are all called to do our part in alms-giving, but that we are not necessarily called to finish the work of charity, that others come after us and build on what we have done. Albanian Orthodox Bishop Andon Merdani spoke of how our religions call us to treat people in their wholeness as children of God, attending to their physical as well as spiritual needs. Dr Alexander Agorodnikov, a survivor of the Soviet Gulag from 1986 to 1997, reflected on his experience of torture and deprivation in those years, yet how he experienced a deep conviction in the worst of prison conditions in Siberia: “love will save the world, and love is made visible in charity”. U Uttara, a Burmese Buddhist monk (above), exiled from his homeland since 1988, spoke of the joy of giving and sharing in wholesome actions. Dr Francesa Zuccarí, the coordinator of the Sant’Egidio programme for the homeless in Rome, affirmed how acts of mercy breaks down isolation of the poor, helps them to survive, and brings some, even if small, measure of justice.

The meetings continue today.

The Community of Sant’Egidio started in 1968 in Rome. It is an association of over 50,000 laity in over 70 countries. Their website is here.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Canon Alan Maude Celebrates Ruby Anniversary of Priesthood

The Revd Canon Dr Alan Maude (chaplain of Costa del Sol West, Spain) recently celebrated 40 years as a priest. He is pictured here (third from the right) with his wife Marjorie. Special guests for the celebration included Lord Carey of Clifton, (the former Archbishop of Canterbury), Archdeacon David Sutch and colleagues from the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar. Warm congratulations to Fr Alan!

The Costa del So West chaplaincy includes congregations in Sotogrande and San Pedro de Estepona

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Church of Denmark Signs the Porvoo Agreement

Ecclesiastical history in Northern Europe was made on Sunday 3 October. After close to 500 years of separation, visible communion has been restored between the Anglican Churches of Great Britain and Ireland and the Church of Denmark. On Sunday 3 October, following a Eucharist in Vor Frue Cathedral in Copenhagen, officials of the Danish Church signed the Porvoo Agreement.  All the Lutheran Churches of the Nordic and Baltic countries (except the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia) have now signed this ecumenical statement which brings those Churches into a living relationship of shared life and mission, including the interchangeability of ministers. The Church of Denmark comprises 10 dioceses in Denmark itself and one in Greenland. There are 2,200 parishes served by about 2,400 priests.

The weekend celebrations began with a service of Evensong on Saturday in St Alban's Anglican Church in Copenhagen. I welcomed the international gathering to the service which the Venerable Jonathan LLoyd, Chaplain of St Alban's and Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, led. Bishop Martin Wharton (Newcastle), the Anglican Co-Chairman of the Porvoo Contact Group, read the sermon which was to have been delivered by Bishop Kenneth Stevenson, who was not able to attend due to illness. Bishop Stevenson, the former Bishop of Portsmouth, is himself part Danish, and is a Knight Commander of the Kingdom of Denmark's Order of the Dannebrog. In the photo above are some of the bishops who were at the service in St Alban's, along with Archdeacon LLoyd. (From left to right: Bp David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Abp Kari Mäkinen of Turku, Abp Andres Põder of Estonia, Bp Ragnar Persenius of Uppsala, Bp Michael Jackson of Clogher, Bp Kresten Drejergaard of Fyens, Bp Helga Haugland Byfugligen of Borg, Bp Karl Sigurbjörnsson of Iceland, Bp Martin Wharton of Newcastle, Archdeacon Jonathan LLoyd, Bp Peter Skov Jakobsen of Copenhagen, and yours truly).

At the Sunday morning Eucharist in Copenhagen's Cathedral, our own Director of Ministry, the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, was one of those administering Holy Communion to the congregation. It was personally a moving celebration for Canon Monberg, who told me that at the service two strands of her life came together: her Danish birth and culture, and her Anglican priesthood. In the photo below from left to right, Bishop Christopher Hill (Guildford), me, Canon Ulla Monberg, Mrs Hanna Broadbridge (chairman of the Council of International Relations of the Danish Church), Bishop Peter Skov Jacobsen (Copenhagen) and Archdeacon Jonathan LLoyd.

When the eucharist had ended the actual signing of the declaration by Danish Church officials took place. Pictured below, Mrs Hanna Broadbridge, Bishop Karsten Nissen of Viborg Diocese (signing) and Jørgen Skov Sørensen, the General Secretary of the Council on International Relations. 

A hymn by the great Danish theologian N.F.S. Grundtvig, sung at the service, captured the mood of joy and commitment to our common mission as a Communion of Churches in Northern Europe:
O Loving Spirit from above,
infuse the church with Your eternal love,
so we gladly wander,
sister close to brother,
as God loves his children,
loving one another!
Spirit, hear our prayer!

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Revd Adèle Kelham Elected President of Swiss Ecumenical Council

At its General Meeting in Lausanne on 22 September, the Revd Adèle Kelham was elected President of the Swiss national ecumenical body (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in der Schweiz AGCK-CH – Communauté de Travail des Eglises Chrétiennes en Suisse CTECH). She will take up this office on 1 January 2011, and will serve for a term of 2 years in succession to Bishop Vitus Huonder, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Chur. Bishop Huonder is pictured above congratulating Adèle. This is not only a great honour within Switzerland, but is an appointment with global significance; Adèle will be one of very few women worldwide to hold the office of president of a national council of churches.

Adèle is the priest-in-charge of our parish of Christ Church, Lausanne. She is also our Diocesan Advisor on Women's Ministry with a specific responsibility to support the ministry of women clergy in the diocese. (Over 20% of the licensed clergy of the Diocese in Europe are women). Before her theological training Adèle first studied physics. She commented that the two subjects complement one another, "One looks at creation, the other at the Creator". Adèle is deeply committed to ecumenism as being central to Christian witness and mission. She says, "Divided, the Church cannot properly fulfil its tasks. How can we show the love of God in the world, if we fail to love our fellow Christians respectfully and from the heart? How can we foster God’s peace and justice in the world, if we do not show mutual support for one another?"

We offer our congratulations to Adèle as she takes up this vital ecumenical office and assure her of our prayers.

The website of the Swiss National Ecumenical Body, 
AGCK-CH is here. Christ Church Lausanne's website is here.