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

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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Bishop's Council hears of the turmoil in Greece

Canon  Malcolm Bradshaw, Mrs Christine Saccali

While EU leaders struggle to find ways forward through the current crises in the Eurozone, the news from the ground, from our congregations in Greece, reveals feelings of fear and anger among the people. 
This week two members from Greece on the Bishop’s Council, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, in charge of the Greater Athens Chaplaincy and Mrs Christine Saccali, a Reader licensed to that chaplaincy gave reports on the situation in their country. According to Fr Malcolm, the overall level of social deprivation in Athens is growing rapidly. The austerity programme imposed consists of some very severe measures, and these have been implemented so rapidly that there has been no time for the general population to adjust their household budgets and lifestyles. Ironically, it is the very narrow band of people in Greece who actually pay income tax, such as civil servants, who are finding the measures very burdensome. With the cuts, the average family must now try to get by on about €450 per month. The sudden impoverishment of many in the parish has meant that fund-raising activities have had to be cancelled.
Fr Bradshaw commented that the media images related to the strikes and protests have generally been portraying activities of anarchist groups. The general strikes and protests have been largely peaceful, but these are frequently hijacked by the involvement of such groups. There have recently been two worrying “pitched battles” around St Paul’s Anglican Church in Central Athens, involving projectiles and Molotov cocktails.
Mrs Saccali spoke of the uncertainty which comes from having no idea about the ultimate level of cuts to be implemented. It makes household budgeting impossible as it is not clear from day to day what the new household tax burden will be. Pensioners are facing vastly reduced pension payments. The result is an angry and fearful people – suicide rates are up, for instances. “May God put his hand on this situation”, said Christine, quoting a common Greek saying.
The prayers of the diocese are encouraged for the people of Greece in this time of social and economic upheaval.
Gracious God, give us wisdom and compassion in troubled times. Listen to the cries of your people whose lives have suddenly become uncertain and whose daily struggle has become more difficult. Strengthen those who minister in the midst of unrest and help them accompany your people through crisis and fear. Hear us in your mercy and bring your peace and justice to a world in turmoil.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Diocese in Europe Bishop's Council Votes in Favour of Women Bishops Legislation

Today our Bishop's Council acted upon the Article 8 reference from General Synod, on the matter of women bishops and voted in favour of the motion: "this Council approves the proposal embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon No. 30".  

This is the text of what I said at the Bishop's Council Meeting:
"The presentation of the Revd Anders Bergquist clearly set before us that what we must decide upon is not whether or not women can be or should be bishops of the Church of England. That moment has passed. In deciding that in principle this is a right development, the Church of England still recognises that this is a decision that, like all major developments in the Church of God, must be subject to and tested within a process of reception, a process which naturally must include the whole of the Church.
The Church has made a decision about what it believes to be right about women bishops. But what is before us is the question of whether we approve of the proposals in the measure as the way to carry forward the decision of the Church, while maintaining the highest degree of unity.
In June at the Diocesan Synod debate I already stated my position. I repeated it here, in summary. I want a Church which teaches that women can be bishops, priests and deacons. At the same time I want a Church which, out of a profound commitment to receiving the truth of the Gospel and a profound commitment to loving mutual respect among her members, will not create difficulties for those who at this stage of the reception of this development find they cannot accept it. If this is a true development, we must and can find a way to move ahead so that it is a sign of the truth of the Gospel and of hope for the ecumenical movement and for the unity of our Church.
But the point I want to make at this stage is about confidence in who we are, regardless of the outcome of our decision. I would be cautious about acting in any a way that creates the illusion that the Diocese in Europe is an enclave within the Church. I say this because I am a Catholic and therefore not someone very well disposed to party or sectarian positions. We have watched how the grand proposals in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Ordinariate, seem to be creating a sort of “safe harbour” within the Roman Catholic Church, which, begins to look more like a cul-de-sac, rather than a place of hope and confidence and trust in God’s powerful Spirit which guides, moves, and sustains the Church of God into the future.
One of the most beautiful and moving aspects about this diocese which I serve and which you represent is that we are able to live very well with diversity and even, to a degree, untidiness. We are experts in serving our people and our Lord in the midst of this continent where divisions among churches evolved into schism, reformations, counter-reformations and wars. In this context, at the heart of our witness as a diocese, is a constant striving for unity, with those with whom we are in communion, with those with whom we are not yet in communion and within our own family of the Church of England. We already are experts in living with huge anomalies that other parts of the Anglican Communion, and even other parts of the Church of England could only imagine and in this context we flourish and grow. We do not shy away from challenges, for we have confidence in who we are and what we stand for.
For instance, in this diocese we already live side by side with another Anglican jurisdiction which has a woman bishop as its ordinary. I speak of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, is, in fact, the bishop of that jurisdiction, with Bishop Pierre, essentially her suffragan. This has not impeded relationships, neither do Bishop Geoffrey nor I consider that Bishop Pierre, as her delegate, is anything other than a bishop. This is a diocese where I have on occasion found myself at consecrations of bishops of Churches in Communion where other bishops who are present to lay on hands are women. This is a diocese where our Diocesan Bishop is an honorary assistant bishop in a jurisdiction which already accepts the blessings of same sex partnerships. I speak of the Christ [Old] Catholic Church in Switzerland. This is a diocese where we do not operate as if we were some enclave, safe from the storms of the Church around us. We live in the real world, we live in the real Church, and we live with and flourish in the context of huge ambiguity and change, with a confidence in who we are, as a true diocese of the Catholic Church of Christ, with a profound commitment to unity imbedded in our DNA. This is a gift which our Gracious God has granted us, and it is precious, and we should not ever sell ourselves short on what this will enable us to do.
Whatever the decision of this Council today, I pray that it will help us to continue to be a beacon of hope and unity, that it will strengthen our confidence in who we are: not a ghetto, not an enclave shielded and protected from the real struggles of the Church, but a diocese which lives confidently the Catholic faith as this Church has inherited it, trusting always in God’s Holy Spirit to strengthen and confirm us in that faith".  

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Soul in Europe Conference, Istanbul

It is not often that I get a chance to accompany clergy from other parts of the Church of England on an educational excursion into our own Diocese in Europe. But from 16-21 October I was invited to support the "Soul in Europe" event for clergy, organised by the Diocese of Bath and Wells. "Soul in Europe" is an educational conference which meets every couple of years in various European settings to explore issues related to faith, culture and the state. This year's conference met in Istanbul. The theme was "East Meets West: Social and Religious Identity in an Expanding Europe". 19 priests from the Dioceses of Bath and Wells, Chichester, Salisbury and Guildford took part.

It was a packed and stimulating programme which began, appropriately, with an audience and discussions with His All Holiness Bartholomew II, the Ecumenical Patriarch and His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Proussa. Other highlights of the week included:
  • Meetings at the Armenian Patriarchate with Archbishop Aram Ateshian (who heads that Church at this time as Patriarch Mesrob II is seriously ill). 
  • A presentation on interfaith dialogue with Roman Catholic Franciscan Friar GwenolĂ© Jeusset. 
  • An address by the Revd Canon Ian Sherwood of Christ Church Istanbul on the history of the Anglican presence in the city and the historic Crimean Memorial Church.
  • A presentation by the Revd Engin Yildirim of the Church of the Resurrection, Istanbul, who spoke of the challenges of identity faced by Turkish Christians. 
The delegation also explored several points of view related to Turkish accession to the EU from professors, a Muslim believer and human rights expert Mine Yildirim. Daily prayer, evening reflections and two eucharists gave a spiritual framework to the week, which included visits to the Blue Mosque, Agia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Drama, daily prayer and football

Ecumenical Guests with Fr Engin Yildirim (2nd from right)
The Church of the Resurrection, the Turkish-speaking congregation in Istanbul, headed by the priest-in-charge the Revd Engin Yildirim, continues to explore ways to deepen its spiritual and communal life. It is a challenge to nurture the faith of members in a country where there are few resources and opportunities available for Christians.

One new activity is a group which meets weekly to reflect on the Gospel and sermon from the previous Sunday, to explore ways of applying the liturgical Gospel in daily life. It seems that there is some acting talent in the congregation as well, so from time to time a drama group prepares a short play based on the scriptures of the day, as part of the Sunday liturgy. Fr Engin is also seeking to find ways to provide for some celebration of the daily office (morning and evening prayer) during the week, at times that will be suitable for his busy church members. And .... the parish has formed a football team!

Following the Sunday Eucharist on 16 October, the congregation invited several ecumenical guests to a reception, providing an opportunity for me to hear how their own congregations and ministries are faring. Lutheran, Reformed and Roman Catholic clergy attended. This was followed by a time of dialogue and exchange with members of the congregation on subjects ranging from the role of Confirmation in the Church of England, and the ordination of women!

Friday, 14 October 2011

15 Postulants Attend Annual Vocations Seminar

Postulants at the Diocesan Office
From 11 - 14 October the annual Diocesan Vocations Conference was held at St Columba's House in Woking, England. This year 15 postulants for Holy Orders from across the diocese gathered for these intensive days of discernment led by the Director of Ordinands (DDO), the Revd William Gulliford. Fr Gulliford was assisted by the members of the Diocesan Ministry Team and Assistant Directors of Ordinands, the Canons Malcolm Bradshaw and Michael Bullock and the Revd Barbara Moss. The postulants, men and  women, came from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, France, Italy and Austria.

The journey to Holy Orders is a lengthy one, and requires patience on the part of those testing their vocation. In the Diocese in Europe postulants first attend an Enquirers' Conference then have interviews with the DDO and sometimes one of his assistants. After completion of various pieces of written work, they attend our Vocations Seminar at which their suitability for Holy Orders is explored according to these 9 criteria:
  1. Vocation
  2. Ministry within the Church of England
  3. Spirituality
  4. Personality and Character
  5. Relationships
  6. Leadership and Collaboration
  7. Faith
  8. Mission and Evangelism, and
  9. Quality of Mind  
After a positive recommendation from our Diocesan Vocations Seminar, postulants are then sent to a Bishop’s Advisory Panel of the Church of England where further discernment is undertaken, which results in a recommendation or non-recommendation to enter training.

During this year's Seminar the postulants visited the Diocesan Office and had a tour of Westminster Abbey which ended with attendance at the Eucharist for the Translation of St Edward the Confessor.

The postulants (and the Ministry Team) work hard over these days. A tradition which has developed over the past years is to have an evening of relaxation where the postulants share delicacies from the countries where they are living. It is always a highlight! 

Monday, 10 October 2011

October 2011 Book Reviews

October's book recommendations are here. As always these are based on thorough reviews made by Dr Martin Davie, the theological advisor to the Church of England's bishops. I hope that not only our clergy and lay ministers but also members of our congregations will find these to be useful and enticing abstracts of  recently published works of interest to Anglicans. 

This month's selection includes 8 volumes spanning works on liturgy and music, discipleship, missiology and ecclesiology, ecumenical themes, Sydney Anglicanism, and spirituality. 

Bonne lecture!

Click on the read more link for the reviews.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Canary Island Government restores British Cemetery

Photo courtesy of Fr Peter Ford
The Revd Peter Ford OGS, the Priest-in-Charge of Gran Canaria, has written with the news that the Canary Island Government has spent €91,000 to restoration of the historic British Cemetery in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The cemetery dates back to 1835 and predates our Church building. It is considered to be an important historic site on the island, bearing witness to the importance of Las Palmas as a busy port on the shipping lanes between the UK and Africa.

Holy Trinity Church itself was not founded until 1887. It was originally a parish in the Diocese of Sierra Leone, but we are very happy that it is now a vital part of the Diocese in Europe!

The website of Holy Trinity is here.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Why are you an Anglican?

An Anglican charity has announced a prize of £1,000 for the best 5000-word answer to ‘Why I am an Anglican and believe I shall remain so’. St Boniface Trust is running the competition which is open to both lay people and clergy of all ages. In a statement a spokesperson for the Trust said,
“The Trust feels that more attention needs to be paid to the understanding of Anglicanism as a distinctive witness in a time when its self understanding is at a low ebb.There is a degree of urgency and to further this understanding it is offering a prize of £1,000 which will go to the writer of an essay of about 5,000 words on the subject ‘Why I am an Anglican and believe I shall remain so’.Essay submissions by lay people and clergy of all ages must be received by 1 January 2012 and entries will be judged by 2 senior clergy. The result will be announced next Easter and the winning essay placed on our website together with other significant contributions.”
The St Boniface Trust was established following the closure of St Boniface College, Warminster, originally a missionary training college. The Trust is a small charity established to advance the Christian religion in accordance with the principles of the Anglican faith in all parts of the world, especially for the provision of education and training of clergy and lay people by the award of scholarships and maintenance allowance or any purpose concerning their spiritual or temporal welfare.

Now, I know there are people in our diocese, steeped as we are in an ecumenical context, who could write a very engaging essay on this topic. If you are seriously interested in entering please contact the Trust secretary for further details. or write to David Prior, Secretary, St Boniface Trust 4 Cley View, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 8NS, UK.

Further information is available on the Anglican Communion Website.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Nordic / Baltic Synod: communications, women bishops and new Area Dean

The Revd Paul Needle

The Diocesan Communications Officer, the Revd Paul Needle, led a workshop for the members of the Nordic / Baltic deanery which met in Kungälv, near Gothenburg, Sweden from 30 September to 2 October. Clergy and laity from congregations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Latvia were present to hear Fr Needle present guidelines for good communications in church magazines, websites, blogs and to lay out some principles to bear in mind when facing the media. 

The Deanery Synod voted to send a note to Bishop's Council urging it to heed the mind of the diocese expressed in Diocesan Synod concerning the issue of ordination of women bishops. (The Diocesan Synod voted to accept the proposals of the General Synod, but due to our Diocesan Constitution, it is our Bishop's Council, a much smaller body than Synod, that makes the final decision on such matters).  

During evening prayer on 30 September, Archdeacon Jonathan LLoyd presented the Revd Barbara Moss to me to be commissioned as Area Dean, to serve for the next three years. Barbara is the chaplain of St Andrew's Gothenburg, where the Synod gathered on Sunday morning for a festive eucharist, with confirmations.

The meeting room was named the Snorre room, but it was, nevertheless, a lively gathering!  

Area Dean the Revd Barbara Moss
St Andrew's Gothenburg. Photo courtesy of Anglican Church in Finland

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Revd Dan Morrow leaves Zurich to take up a post in Oregon

The Chaplain of St Andrew's Zurich, the Revd Canon John Newsome, reported on a celebration of Harvest Festival last Sunday 2nd October. Over 200 people attended the service when the congregation also said good-bye to the Revd Dan and Teresa Morrow. Fr Dan has been the Assistant Chaplain for the past three years and came to Zurich from the Diocese of Los Angeles.

During his time in St Andrew's he won the hearts of many with his radiant smile and warm-hearted nature. His ministry was especially appreciated by  the children and teachers of Junior Church and by the youth of the  parish. (Fr Dan built up the youth group from the beginning). He also has primary pastoral care of three daughter communities. Dan was also an enthusiastic and valued participant in the Diocesan Post Ordination Training Programme, run by the Director of Training, the Revd Ulla Monberg.

Dan and Teresa's stay in Switzerland was somewhat frustrated by problems with the Swiss immigration and labour authorities. They are both US citizens and since the bilateral arrangements between Switzerland and the EU have come into effect it has become more difficult for non-EU citizens to live and work in Switzerland but easier for EU citizens. There was time last autumn when a two week vacation turned into 6 weeks as there was difficulty getting re-entry permission into Switzerland!

Dan has now completed his three year contract and is moving to become Rector of St Paul's Church Oregon City, in Oregon diocese in the USA. We wish him and Teresa evey blessing for the challenges ahead. We have all be greatly blessed through his presence in St Andrew's and with his ministry here in the Diocese in Europe.

A new Assistant Chaplain has been appointed to succeed Dan, the Revd Sara MacVane, currently priest-in-charge of Pas de Calais. Sara joins the Zurich team in November.

The website of St Andrew's is here.

Monday, 3 October 2011

How the new Ecclesiastical Offices Measure applies to clergy of the Diocese in Europe

The Revd Amos Manga  and Archdeacon Jonathan LLoyd 

The clergy of the Nordic / Baltic deanery met outside Gothenburg, Sweden on 28 - 30 September. Priests from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Finland were present and among the topics discussed was  the implications for our Diocese of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009, which came into force in the Church of England on 31 January 2011.  For the sake of our licensed clergy beyond the Nordic/Baltic Deanery, here is a summary of those implications: 

The Measure gives clarity to the rights, responsibilities and accountabilities of the clergy, who are not employees but office holders. It brings the status of the clergy onto a more equal basis known as common tenure. Previously, in England there was a range of "employment status" depending, for example, on whether a priest had the freehold or was on a fixed term appointment or a priest-in-charge, team rector, team vicar, assistant priest etc. The Measure preserves the traditional concept of “cure of souls” and the relationships between priest and people on the one hand, and priest and bishop on the other. Common tenure provides a framework for clear Terms & Conditions of Service, such as entitlement to stipend, expenses of office, rest periods and holidays, pension provision and housing. 

There was never any freehold in the Diocese in Europe, and framing the deployment of the clergy according Terms & Conditions of Service is something we have had in place for a long time, so this part of the legislation will not require much adjustment to our present practice. There are some new aspects, however, which now apply to the Diocese in Europe clergy: 
  • access to a grievance procedure to address issues arising from the Terms and Conditions of Service
  • subjection to a capability procedure focussing on enabling improvement when  performing below an acceptable standard
  • the requirement to participate in ministerial development review (MDR)
  • the requirement to undertake appropriate continuing ministerial education (CME)
The law of England does not apply on Continental Europe, of course, so these aspects of the legislation have force under an Archbishop's Instrument, as provided for by our constitution. 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

No rest for the wicked? A note about clergy stress

One of the most frequent pastoral issues I face as a bishop is clergy stress. It may not be widely recognised that the ordained ministry is among the most stressful of occupations. Nevertheless it is true. Priests and deacons are highly dedicated individuals who invest much of themselves in their vocation. This alone has the potential of increasing levels of stress and burnout. They are also working with people and are constantly required to motivate and inspire a volunteer community which adds additional emotional demands. Some of the key contributing factors to clergy stress include:

  • Too many competing demands on time and energy
  • Unrealistic expectations:  perfection and omnicompetence! 
  • Conflict about the nature of their calling. In the 21st century religion is increasingly consumer-driven, and churchgoers often want clergy to soothe and entertain them rather than challenge and guide them as  spiritual leaders and pastors.
  • Unclear boundaries. A combination of long working hours and a generally porous boundary (even in terms of physical space) between work life and personal life has its hazards.  
  • Loneliness
  • Poor eating habits
  • Lack of physical exercise
There are circumstances in our Diocese in Europe which contribute additional stressful challenges for our clergy in comparison the situation in the rest of the Church of England. These include:
  • a sense of isolation in one's ministry and physical distance from colleagues 
  • the congregationalist tendency of some of our parishes
  • cross cultural and linguistic challenges
  • the distances that need to be covered to carry out normal pastoral duties
  • generally less housing than the normal living and working space provided in an English parsonage
  • finding appropriate and / or affordable schooling for children and employment possibilities for clergy spouses
  • different de facto employment status as Diocese in Europe clergy are paid locally, which can lead to confusion about who is the priest's "boss". In the extreme, there can be inappropriate exercise of power by laity. 
  • the limitations of time, energy and financial resources to address real growth and development needs  
So what is a priest or deacon in parochial ministry to do? There are a some ways for clergy to help keep stress at an appropriate level. It is not rocket science, as the saying goes, but we all need reminders from time to time!

  • Nurture a set of spiritual disciplines including daily office, retreats and quiet days, meditative and other forms of prayer.
  • Take regular time off. I am convinced that the assumed pattern of clergy only having 1 day off a week is probably not enough. But time off also includes moments for daily relaxation, and taking full entitlement of annual leave. Remember the importance of "unplugged" time - away from the mobile phone and computer. For clergy in this diocese interested in sabbatical leave, there are guidelines available here. 
  • Get proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
  • Find intentional support systems. Although easier said than done in our scattered diocese, there may be ecumenical possibilities (where language is not a barrier). Some clergy are meeting in clusters or chapters in a given region. Electronic communication such as skype conversations can also be helpful.
  • Set realistic time management goals. Don't be afraid to say "no".   
The laity can support our clergy to keep a proper balance.

Churchwardens have a key role as they are given particular responsibility to cooperate with and care for the priest.