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.

Monday, 31 January 2011

St Vincent brings communities and churches together in Algarve

About 20 people from 10 different countries (mostly European but including China and Malaysia) form a group called the "Algarve Wednesday Walkers" headed by Fr Bob Bates, chaplain at St Vincent's Algarve. On a recent walk on 19 January, from Cape St Vincent to Sagres, Fr Bob stopped to lead prayers at a little chapel in the fortress in Sagres where St Vincent's body was washed ashore, according to tradition. Fr Bob is pictured above with a rare 6th century statue of the saint. The walkers have adopted St Vincent as their patron.

Later that week, on 21 January, the eve of St Vincent's day, an ecumenical service was held in the Cathedral in Faro which brought together clergy from several traditions including our own. The service was partly in English and partly in Portuguese, with a little Romanian thrown in! Below from left to right are Padre Oleg Trushko – Greek-Catholic; Fr Bob Bates, Bishop Manuel Quintas of Algarve; and Padre Ioan Rasnoveanu – Romanian Orthodox.

The delegation from our own congregations led the singing of the concluding hymn: “Thy hand O God has guided” with Portuguese joining in the “One Church, one faith one Lord!” verse endings.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Announcing a new resource for work with children and young people

The Church of England's Children's Advisor, Mary Hawes, has announced the launch of a new website of resources to support the Church's work with children and young people. It follows the Going for Growth report which went to General Synod last year. The intention is for the site to continue to grow with new resources, articles and information posted regularly. If you register, you are able to access all the areas, as well as contribute items if you wish.

Although the site seems to be a bit slow, after a quick glance through the materials which are already available I thought it looks very promising. Certainly in our scattered Diocese in Europe, congregations which have work with children or young people, or who are looking for ideas to begin and continue such work, will find web-based resources to be very handy!

You can reach the new website here.

If you are interested in the General Synod report of January 2010, Going for Growth, it can be accessed here. Much of the report assumes an English context, but there are some very good theological principles outlined in it, and some excellent mission challenges in terms of work with youth.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Monaco - Christian Unity celebrated at the circus!

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a busy time in Monaco. On Saturday 22 January, Fr Walter Raymond of St Paul's Church (above right) and I, joined with Reformed and Roman Catholic colleagues for a mass for unity in the Cathedral, celebrated by the RC Archbishop of Monaco, Bernard Barsi (above left). On Monday 24, Father Walter hosted a fraternal lunch for local clergy. Again, Archbishop Barsi attended along with clergy from the RC, French Reformed, Russian Orthodox, and Evangelical Churches. 

But the highlight was the Célébration oecuménique held on Monday evening. The International Circus Festival was in full swing and the service was held in the great tent, in the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco. The prayers, readings and chants were interspersed with circus acts selected from the competition that week. The performers (and even some animals) offered their own talents to God in a joyful and sacred event.

About 40 clergy took part: RC bishops and priests from Monaco and neighbouring dioceses in Italy, France, and Germany, Orthodox priests, and pastors of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. The Archdeacon of France, the Venerable Ken Letts, (above) was present joining Fr Walter and me as the Anglican representatives. The tent was filled with a couple of thousand people.

.... and I made a new friend.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Church of the Resurrection, Pera, Istanbul, hosts ecumenical service for the Week of Prayer

The newest Diocese in Europe congregation in Turkey has taken its place as a full participant in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is an important observation for the Christians who are a small minority in the country. For many years in Istanbul, the Unity Week events have been celebrated and supported by the long-established churches in the city. This year, the Turkish speaking Anglican Church of the Resurrection, was invited to take a full part in the week's events by being the hosts for one of the evening prayer services, as well as taking part on the other nights. So on the 17th of January, Fr Engin Yildirim (above at the lectern), the priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection, and members of his congregation hosted the service jointly with the Latin Catholic Church of St Pierre. It was well attended by clergy and laity from across the city, from a wide range of Christian Churches.

Ecumenical commitment remains strong in Brittany

The Revd John Marvel, a retired priest with Permission to Officiate in France, has been involved with local  local French clergy, Roman Catholic and Protestant for the last eleven years in preparing and carrying our the activities of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. For the last three years he has been the co-ordinator and organiser. This year unity services in this part of Northern France were held in Dinard and St Malo.

Ecumenical work in the region is well organised and is led by the Groupement Oecuménique, a body registered with the Préfecture. (French laws of laïcité are very strict about church group activities). This group, consisting of both lay and clergy, has monthly meetings and bible studies. Fr Marvel has just stepped down from being chairman. We commend Fr John for his ecumenical work and commitment over many years which has nurtured a deep sense of unity among Christians in the region.

The photo above is of the final blessing at a service in St Malo, left to right, the Revd John Marvel, Père Jolivet (RC), Pasteur Fievet et Pasteur Eleonore Leveille Belutaud (Eglise Reformée). Another RC priest, Père Drougard was busy at the organ. The Revd Gareth Randall, priest-in-charge of St Bartholomew's Dinard, read the Gospel (below).

St Bartholomew's Dinard has a website here.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

News from St Andrew's Moscow following the bombing at the airport

Following on the news of the atrocious bombing at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow which resulted in so many deaths and hundreds injured, I contacted the Revd Canon Dr Simon Stephens, the chaplain of St Andrew's Moscow to enquire about the situation and the safety of our own Church members. Fr Simon sent back this message:

"One fringe member of the congregation was slightly injured, but it is the climate of both fear and hopelessness which is making the greatest impact upon the expat community here in the Russian Capital....As with other bombings, the [British] Embassy opened its EAC (Emergency Action Cell) of which I have been a member for ten years, and we finally got to bed at 0230 this morning [Tuesday 25th] having dealt with the two British casualties".
Members of the diocese are asked to keep the people of Moscow, St Andrew's congregation, and Fr Simon in your prayers this week, as they face the aftermath of this bombing, and witness to peace and hope in the midst of a city feeling vulnerable and insecure.

Fr Simon is pictured above outside the parsonage of St Andrew's.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Quadruple celebration in Monaco

It was a quadruple celebration at St Paul’s Monaco on Sunday 23 January: the parish patronal festival (the Conversion of St Paul), the confirmation of three candidates, the admission to Holy Communion of two young girls and the birthday of the parish priest, Fr Walter Raymond OGS (seen below with his cake, some younger parishioners and the parish dog, Sparky!)

St Paul's continues its outreach to the community with a thriving mothers and toddlers group which meets every Monday and Thursday. It has been going for 21 years and brings together a large number of mothers who can often find expatriate life to be lonely. There is also a growth in numbers of younger families in the congregation itself and the Sunday School is gaining strength. A January ski trip for the Sunday School has over 50 people signed up! The parish website can be found here.

During my pastoral visit I was able to enjoy one of the traditions in Monaco during this season: the Galette des Rois (Three Kings Cake). This special cake celebrates the Epiphany of course, but is now enjoyed throughout the month of January. A paper crown is given to the one who finds a fève in their piece of cake; quite by chance, I had a lucky slice. The little porcelain "bean" was inscribed with a cheeky saying in Monégasque, the ancient local language. Italian and French speakers should be able to decipher the meaning!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Ecumenical Vignette from Trondheim

The Revd Mary Strømmen
is an assistant priest in the Anglican Church in Norway. She is based in the ancient city of Trondheim where our congregation meets at the Cathedral. Mary writes of her experience of ecumenical life:
In Norway, Trondheim is considered strong on ecumenics, being the only town in the country to have its own Christian Council where all the different churches are members. This last year I have been deputy leader - quite a lot of leadership responsibility The Anglicans here are known for being dedicated to ecumenical work. Recently the local Lutheran bishop of the Norwegian Church acknowledged that it was the smaller churches that made most of the running in ecumenical efforts, and that he wanted to encourage the majority state Church to take more responsibility and initiative.
The Council mainly keeps the ball rolling by organising the regular annual events - Week of Prayer, Women's World Day of Prayer, Procession of the Cross on Good Friday, town procession on "national day", but sometimes there are additional special events and seminars. There is a feeling that it can be a bit of a struggle due to ongoing tensions between groups of Christians about women's roles, homosexual rights, Israel/Palestine support and so on, but there also seems to be enough determination to keep on seeking to work together anyway.
Personally I vary between thinking "Have I really got time for this?" to thinking that it may actually be the most important work I do!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Ecumenical Vignette from the Aquitaine

The Revd Gill Strachan is one of the assistant chaplains serving the Anglican Church in Aquitaine, a vast parish with 8 regular congregations in SW France. She writes:
In 2008 for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity I was invited by the Benedictine Community of Sisters at Belloc in the Pyrenean foothills to talk about my work as a woman priest. I talked for about an hour, having prepared it all in French (of course), but then came the questions....They had SO many! The first was ‘Can you really do everything a male priest can do?’ Their interest was far-reaching and deep, ranging from a plethora of pastoral issues to what I wear! Many of them were passionate about women’s ministry. I was asked to robe up and to process to the chapel with the Mother Superior for Vespers, to read the Gospel and to give the blessing. That I did in both French and English, and I did fine it very moving indeed.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Ecumenical Vignette from Strasbourg

The Revd Christine Bloomfield is the Assistant Curate at St Alban's in Strasbourg, a city with a rich ecclesiastical history. She writes of her ecumenical experience:

I was asked to be a candidate for the Women’s World Day of Prayer, France, and was duly elected at the Annual General Meeting in October. I am the only Anglican on the Committee. I hope to build up relations and understanding between the denominations in this re. The AGM was a heart-warming and joyful experience with a great sense of Christian fellowship between women of different denominations. The fact that I am an Anglican priest is encouraging and exciting for Catholic women especially. This is a movement which I find quite wonderful and as it is fundamentally ecumenical with a powerful reality of Christian solidarity world wide I feel that it is a perfect opportunity for Anglicans to work and to pray with other denominations where we live.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Ecumenical Vignette from Paris

The Reverend Elaine Labourel is a priest working in Versailles and Gif sur Yvette to the west of Paris. She writes of her ecumenical engagement:

The Institut Supérieur des Etudes Oecuméniques is part of the Institut Catholique de Paris and you can take a two year diploma there in ecumenical studies and guess who teaches the module on Anglicanism – me! It’s great fun – usually about 30 students, RCs, L’Eglise Réformée, Orthodox, and cuddly charismatics and a few Evangelicals – all coming together to learn from and about each other. It’s an amazing and wonderfully fulfilling experience to get a glimpse of the Body of Christ. The Institut Catholique  has asked me to preach at the Eucharist during the week for Christian Unity in January, which is quite something.

Women Clergy and Ecumenical Experience in Europe

We are in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which runs from 18 - 25 January. The Diocese in Europe has an explicit ecumenical commitment written into our regulations and guidelines: “this Diocese [has] a particular obligation and opportunity to contribute towards the full visible unity of the one Church of Jesus Christ”.

Many people from outside the diocese ask me about how the ministry of our women priests affects our ecumenical relations, particularly in Roman Catholic and Orthodox majority countries. I can say that all our clergy, men and women, operate with an impressive ecumenical commitment and sensitivity, and serve the Church's call to unity with dedication. This clearly contributes to an overwhelmingly positive experience of ecumenical relations.

But in terms of the work of our women clergy, I thought that this week, if I have time, I would post a handful of brief vignettes from actual testimonies and reports. They point to a rich experience of ecumenical relations, with Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and Reformed partners.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Children's First Communion in St Andrew's Pau

On Sunday 5 December 14 children were admitted to Holy Communion in St Andrew’s Pau.  Many parishioners are from Nigeria and they prepared a festive celebration after the service which included singing in Igbo and English and a hot lunch with traditional Nigerian dishes, French wines and even Nigerian palm wine!  
Pictured below are the new communicants together with John Errey (reader in training), Irene Brindle (reader) and Fr Ian Naylor.

As usual when music and good food and refreshment are available, some spontaneous dancing ensued!

In the Church of England baptised children who have not been confirmed and who are not yet "ready and desirous to be confirmed" as required by canon law may be admitted to Holy Communion under certain conditions. In the Diocese in Europe there is a straightforward procedure if a Church is interested in this possibility. I then grant permission to the chaplaincy or congregation to implement this pastoral provision.

Of course, any children previously admitted to Holy Communion in any part of the Church continue to receive even in a congregation where this is not the practice.

Information about admission of children to Holy Communion before Confirmation in this diocese can be sought from my chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

An Announcement: Email Addresses Changing

Please note that email addresses for the bishops, their staff and all in the diocesan office have changed from the start of 2011. The new email format is:

So, for example, my email is now and that of my chaplain is

It is felt that this format is more memorable and much easier to explain than the old one which was cluttered with with hyphens! The old email addresses will still be usable for all of 2011 but please do make this change to your own contact lists now.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

January 2011 Book Selection

Here is a selection of books for January. For those planning parish programmes for Lent there are a couple of volumes worth considering. The Stephen Cherry book is the Archbishop of Canterbury's 2011 Lent Book. Stephen Croft's volume is another suggestion. If you are looking for further theological preparation for the women bishops discussion in the Church, there is an interesting book from an evangelical perspective. As we have an ecumenical vocation in this diocese, there are also three volumes dealing with aspects of Orthodox, Lutheran and Reformed theology. Plus much more!

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

Friday, 14 January 2011

Diocese in Europe and the Royal Maundy

Westminster Abbey announced yesterday that the Royal Maundy Service will be held at the Abbey on 21 April this year. The Queen ad the Duke of Edinburgh will attend. By coincidence, 21 April, besides being Maundy Thursday, is also the occasion of Her Majesty's 85th birthday.

Traditionally on Thursday in Holy Week the Queen gives a gift of specially minted coins to a number of individuals (corresponding to her age), in recognition of their long and valued service to church and community. So this year, 85 men and 85 women will be so honoured. They are to be selected from the Abbey community, from the Diocese of Sodor and Man and from our own Diocese in Europe.

The official announcement on the Westminster Abbey website is here.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Bishop Kenneth Stevenson RIP

With great sadness I announce that Bishop Kenneth Stevenson died during the night of 11/12 January. Bishop Kenneth was the former Bishop of Portsmouth, a constant friend of this diocese, one of the Church's greatest supporters of the relations between Anglicans and the Lutheran Churches of the Nordic and Baltic countries, and an outstanding spiritual and intellectual leader of the Church of England.

He took early retirement due to ill health, but until his death was deeply engaged in the Church's life and work. Bishop Kenneth was part Scottish and part Danish. His grandfather was a Danish bishop and he was was instrumental in enabling the Church of Denmark to sign the Porvoo Agreement last October. Sadly, he missed the occasion itself, due to his deteriorating health. He was a Knight Commander of the Kingdom of Denmark's Order of the Dannebrog, a sign of the esteem with which he was held in that country, as well as in England and in our Churches.

We entrust Bishop Kenneth to his Lord, and pray for his widow Sarah and his family and friends in their sorrow.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Revd Roger White retires from St Thomas a Becket in Hamburg

On 2 January, the Church of St Thomas a Becket in Hamburg was full for a special service of farewell for their priest, the Revd Roger White. The Eucharist included special music, some from Africa, some instrumental, some favourites of Fr Roger, himself a keen singer, as well as poetry and tributes. A festive meal followed, a tradition in St Thomas's, heartily encouraged by Fr Roger himself.

In over 10 years of ministry in St Thomas's, Fr Roger has been a much loved pastor to this multicultural community. His care for fine liturgy, and his preaching and teaching have been widely appreciated. Through quiet pastoral outreach he brought many to faith during his time in Hamburg. Among his ecumenical colleagues he is widely respected and his impeccable German has enabled him to be an outstanding ambassador for the Church of England. He has also served the wider church through time on Diocesan Synod. As bishop I have many very happy memories of visits to St Thomas's during Fr Roger's time, and have much appreciated our working relationship.

At the celebration Fr Roger and his wife Heidi were presented with a gift of two splendid photos by the Ghanaian members of the congregation, depicting the couple in traditional African dress. It was a moving expression of the affection of the entire community for them both.

The diocesan family send warmest wishes to Roger and Heidi, and every blessing on their retirement.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

New Bishop of Turku: Kaarlo Kalliala

On the feast of the Epiphany, in the ancient Cathedral founded in the 13th century, surrounded by representatives of the diocese, bishops of his own Church and representatives from sister Churches, Kaarlo Kalliala (above) was consecrated bishop of Turku by the Archbishop of Turku and Finland, Kari Mäkinen.

Turku is unusual in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in that it has two bishops. The Archbishop of Turku and Finland has many national and international church duties and is the Primate of the Finnish Church. His own jurisdiction in Turku is essentially the centre of the city. The Bishop of Turku is responsible for the rest of the diocese.

Bishop Kaarlo was previously the dean of the diocese. He is also familiar with the challenges of overseas work and chaplaincy having previously served as a Finnish Seamen’s priest in Rotterdam. Bishop Kaarlo is married to Eija, who is a priest. They have two grown sons and two grandchildren. He is an avid blogger and has a facebook presence!

It is the tradition in the Finnish Church for the bishop-elect to preach at his or her own consecration service. In his sermon, Kalliala recalled the story of the Magi, and spoke of our own Christian journey. “When you set out across the desert, supposing that the meaning of life and of all being must be hidden somewhere out there, you do not face royal grandeur, but only something human, small and bare. You will see a little child as it is....This is God’s policy, the great scandal of Christianity: God, who holds the universe, becomes like us, steps down to human history and becomes one of us.”

I was privileged to represent the Archbishop of Canterbury and to be invited to be one of the co-consecrators. It was a time to meet several old ecumenical friends, including the Lutheran Bishop of El Salvador, Medardo Gomez. He is a heroic man with whom I had much to do in the 1980s during the civil war in his country.

There is an English-language congregation which meets in the Cathedral each Sunday, under the joint auspices of the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church in Finland, a ministry made possible by the Porvoo Agreement. Information can be found here.

It was brisk weather in Turku. In the photo below Frs Mika Pajunen and Rupert Moreton (Assistant Priest and Chaplain, respectively in the Anglican Church in Finland) head to a tent after the service for some mulled wine.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Women Bishops - how the legislation will be considered in the Diocese in Europe

How is the draft legislation concerning women bishops to be dealt with in our diocese?

Article 8 of the Constitution of the General Synod provides that certain kinds of legislation may not receive the final approval of the General Synod unless they have first been approved by the majority of diocesan synods. The draft legislation to permit the consecration of women bishops falls into this category. Due to a quirk of our diocesan constitution (which was put in place before we had a diocesan synod), it is to our Bishop's Council that Article 8 business must be referred.

In October the Bishop's Council looked at this matter. It took account of the fact that we now have a diocesan synod, so it makes sense for this wider body to have an opportunity to give the proposed legislation full consideration. The Bishop's Council thus noted the Article 8 referral and then resolved:
(a) to remit discussion of the matter to the next meeting of the Diocesan Synod;
(b) to request the Standing Committee to ensure that all the relevant papers (which shall include a copy of chapter 5 of the Rochester Report and any additional background material as the Diocesan Bishop and the Suffragan Bishop may consider appropriate) are made available so as to allow adequate time for full consideration by members of the Diocesan Synod in advance of the meeting;
(c) to request the Standing Committee to allocate sufficient time for a full and comprehensive discussion during the Synod;
(d) to request the Bishop, following consultation with senior colleagues, to invite an informed speaker in favour of, and an informed speaker who is not in favour of, the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon to address (for equal periods) the Diocesan Synod in May 2011; and
(e) to commend the matter to Archdeaconry and Deanery Synods for informed discussion
The key documents referred to us by the General Synod can be found here. The 2004 Rochester Report on Women in the Episcopate can be found here. It is 302 pages long, but it does merit close attention if we are going to be well informed for the coming debates at diocesan (and archdeaconry and deanery) synods. It is a comprehensive study on

(a) the nature of the episcopate in the Church of England;
(b) whether it be right in principle for a woman to be a bishop;
(c) whether this is an appropriate time for the Church of England to make such a move; and
(d) the nature of the provision, if any, that should be made for those who would be unable to accept such a move
We have a major piece of work ahead of us in the diocese. Bishop Geoffrey and I are considering possible additional resources and possible speakers for Diocesan Synod.

When we come to the Diocesan Synod in May, we should bear in mind the qualities of listening and theological engagement that we should embrace as we look at this question. In his presidential address to the General Synod in November, Archbishop Rowan said:

... it is important that, here and in the dioceses, we should not be afraid of discussions that clarify the theological issues. It will be a great pity if we come to our final decision without having confidently articulated why women bishops would be theologically in tune with our deepest commitments. Those like myself who believe women bishops to be a development both good and timely for the Church and wholly consistent with its mainstream understanding of ministry and sacraments should be ready to make the argument in the strong theological terms in which it can be made. And those who do not share these convictions have both the right and the responsibility to articulate the theology of the Church and its authority which makes them hesitate, because listening to these points is a necessary part of the whole body's discernment..Of course it is a matter of real sorrow that some have already decided that they cannot in conscience continue this discussion within the Church of England. They remain in our prayers and we continue to give thanks for the ministry they have offered all of us.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Revd Brian Davies to the Aquitaine

On 1 January, the Reverend Brian Davies, formerly Priest-in-Charge of the Anglican Church of All Saints in the Vendée, took up a new position as Assistant Chaplain of the Anglican Church of the Aquitaine. 

Fr Brian pioneered Anglican work in the Vendée beginning back in 2001 while he was still a reader. Following his ordination, he worked to build a fledgling outreach work into what is now a three point parish with 85 on the electoral roll and a wider "membership" of close to 200.

Last year Brian and his wife Pam considered that the time had come after 9 years to pass leadership of the Vendée to someone to carry things forward to the next stage in its development. By happy coincidence a position for an assistant priest became available in the Aquitaine, and the chaplain, the Revd Paul Vrolijk, invited Brian to consider the post. We wish Fr Brian every blessing as he joins the Aquitaine team.

The website of the Aquitaine is here. The website of All Saints, Vendée, is here.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Pray for Christians in Egypt this Sunday

Icon from St George's Coptic Cathedral, Stevenage

Christians around the world have been shocked by the attack on worshippers in a Church in Alexandria, Egypt on 1 January. Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, a personal friend and a friend of this diocese, sent this invitation to join with Coptic Christians across Europe this Sunday 9th January.

Dear Friends,
Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to start by wishing you all a blessed new year filled with joy in the Incarnate Lord of the holy Nativity Who gives us all a message of hope and promise of life in and with Him, in this world and in the life to come.
Following the painful events in Alexandria in the early hours of this year which led to the death of 22 innocent church-goers, the wounding of more than 80, the traumatisation of a whole community and the transformation of joy and hope to suffering and despair, we will be joining in our prayer together.
At 12:00 GMT this coming Sunday, 9 January, all of our churches across Europe will be praying a general funeral service for all those Coptic Christians who have lost their lives in 2010. This will be a peaceful and spiritual remembrance of painful and heinous targeted acts of violence against innocent worshippers.
Our main service in the United Kingdom will be conducted in the Cathedral of Saint George at the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage.
I therefore, personally, and on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, invite you to share this day with us. I am very aware that it is short notice at a difficult time of the year, but we did not want too much time to pass after the event.
I await your replies, and leave you in the love and care of our gracious Lord.
+Bishop Angaelos
I am unable to attend the service in Stevenage, but have sent this message on behalf of our diocese:

Dear Bishop Angaelos, dear Brother in Christ
Unfortunately I am unable to attend the service this Sunday in the Coptic Centre in Stevenage, but on behalf of the clergy and people of the Diocese in Europe I want to send this message to express our deepest sorrow and condolences to your community following the attack on worshippers in the Church of St Mark and St Peter in Alexandria on 1 January. Please be assured of the prayers of your brothers and sisters of this Church of England diocese this coming Sunday as Coptic parishes across Europe join in memorial services for the victims. We pray for those who have died in this tragedy, for the many wounded, and for the families and friends of all who are affected. We pray for God to bring comfort and steadfastness of faith as Christians in Egypt face the aftermath of yet another violent assault.
We also pray for the President of Egypt and all in authority to take immediate action to protect people from such attacks, but especially the minority Christian community whose right to worship and continue to live the Faith must be guaranteed. Together with international leaders, the government of Egypt must work to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice.
May God's love made known in the Incarnate Word embrace you and your people at this time and may all the departed be welcomed into the fullness of joy and peace.
With deep fraternal love in the Lord
I invite the congregations of our Diocese in Europe to remember our Coptic brothers and sisters in the intercessions this coming Sunday.