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, 27 November 2011

Young families, musical talent and biblical preaching in Leipzig

The first confirmation in Leipzig English Church since 1999 was held on Advent Sunday 27 November when I administered the apostolic rite to 3 teenagers and 3 adults.

English priests were first posted to Leipzig in 1868. All Saints Church, which was located in the memorably named Sebastian-Bach-Strasse, was destroyed by allied bombing in World War II. A new congregation was planted in 1995 by the Revd Martin Reakes-Williams, who still serves as chaplain.

Leipzig English Church is a truly international community. There are many Germans who attend (even though the services are in English), but I also met members from Ireland, the USA, Iraq, Canada, Nigeria, Cameroon, and even some from England! The congregation is also supporting one of their members who is in the process of discernment of vocation to the priesthood. 

The membership was once largely students, but in recent years the congregation has seen a sizable growth among young families with children. Leipzig English Church is noted in the city as being a place for good biblical preaching. I discovered there is also a talented group of musicians in the congregation, including professionals in the historic Gewandhaus Orchestra (which counts Felix Mendelsohn among its past musical directors), and students at the famous University of Music and Theatre (founded by Mendelsohn). 

The Churchwardens, Stefan Seidel and Herman Speckman (pictured below behind the Revd Martin Reakes-Williams), are probably among the youngest in the Diocese.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Another parish the size of Wales!

It is not unusual for our parish priests in Spain to travel over 1000 km in a week in the course of their routine pastoral duties. Fr Hugh Broad, the priest-in-charge of Costa Almería and Costa Cálida, (a pastoral charge the size of Wales), has taken advantage of a provision in the diocese to authorise Congregational Worship Leaders to assist with the ministry and outreach over this vast territory.

Congregational Worship Leaders, after appropriate local training, are authorised to lead services of the word and assist in the liturgical life of the parish. Three new Congregational Worship Leaders were installed in the parish on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday 20 November. They are pictured above in the Church at Mojácar. In the background is Fr Hugh Broad (centre), Fr Alan Bennett (assistant priest) and Reader Duncan Burr.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Anglican Classic in Catalan

During a recent visit to the parish of Costa Azahar I was able to pay a courtesy call on the Bishop of Tortosa, the Most Revd Dr Xavier Salinas i Viñals, whose churches we borrow. 
My meetings with Spanish bishops are always interesting and very cordial. I wasn’t expecting, however, to  have a conversation with Bishop Xavier about the great Anglican classic text by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church. Much to my surprise I learned that Ramsey’s great work has just been published in Catalan translation!

Bishop Xavier is proud of one of his predecessors, (a Dutchman born in Utrecht), who became Pope Adrian VI in 1522, just five years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses against indulgences on the church door in Wittenberg. Pope Adrian VI apparently admitted that some of the disorder in the Church was the fault of the curia itself. He was Pope for only 18 months, but it is intriguing to imagine how Church history might be different had he lived longer and himself initiated some reforms!
The Parish of Costa Azahar, one of the newest pastoral charges in the Diocese, extends from Valencia to Tarragona in Spain and presently has 3 worship centres. The priest-in-charge, the Revd Paul Needle, (who is also our Diocesan Communications Officer) will be retiring from this parochial responsibility early in 2012 and the process has begun to recruit his successor. The parish website is here

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

New Assistant Priest in St Andrew's Zurich

On Sunday 20th November, the Feast of Christ the King, the Revd Sara MacVane was licensed as assistant priest in St Andrew's Zurich by the Archdeacon of Switzerland, the Venerable Peter Potter. Sara served her title curacy in All Saints Rome where she also worked part time at the Anglican Centre in Rome. She then moved to Pas de Calais, where she was priest-in-charge for two years.

Sara speaks fluent Italian, has a working knowledge of French, and will now add German to her language skills. She joins the team in St Andrew's led by the Chaplain, the Revd Canon John Newsome. One of the Readers in the parish, Brother Marcel Benedict, is in the photo above, along with Sara, Fr Newsome and the Archdeacon (in the chasuble). Of course, Sara is the one without the beard!

The website of St Andrew's Zurich, one of the largest and liveliest parishes of the diocese is here. There are daughter churches served from Zurich in St Gallen, Turgi and Zug.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Anglican Old Catholic International Coordinating Council meets in York

Bishop Joachim Vobbe, Old Catholic Co-Chairman of AOCICC 
The other official Anglican-Old Catholic activity to report on this month was the meeting of the AOCICC in York from 4 to 8 November.

I have to admit it is not the most mellifluous acronym, but AOCICC stands for the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council. It is the official instrument serving the relationship of our two respective families of Churches, a relationship of full communion established by the Bonn Agreement of 1931. Two people from our diocese, myself and Mrs Maryon Jägers of Holy Trinity Church, Utrecht, are among the Anglican Communion representatives appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on AOCICC.

At the meeting an important paper on ecclesiology and mission, Belonging Together in Europe, was finalised and will now be presented to the authorities of our Communions for evaluation and reception.

The members worked hard and prayed hard for 5 days. The only time off was for a walk along the ramparts of York, to watch the final episode of Downton Abbey, and for a quick game of snooker!

The official communiqué from the meeting is below. Click read more. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Society of St Willibrord Meets in York Minster

November has been a busy month for official Anglican-Old Catholic relations. This note covers one aspect of that activity, the (English) Society of St Willibrord. 

The Annual General Meeting of the Society was held in York Minster on Saturday 5 November. St Willibrord is the patron of the relations between our Churches. He was the Northumbrian born missionary to Frisia and Northern Germany in the 8th century. He founded many bishoprics, including that of Utrecht. The Archbishop of Utrecht is, today, the first among equals in the Old Catholic hierarchy.

The AGM began with a solemn Eucharist in York Minster, at which the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill presided, assisted by the (Old Catholic) Bishop Emeritus of Germany, the Rt Revd Joachim Vobbe. The Bishop of Haarlem, the Rt Revd Dick Schoon preached. My chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, is a member of the executive of the Society of St Willibrord, and led the intercessions.

Although the relationship of full communion between Anglicans and Old Catholics is global, it is in Europe where Anglicans and Old Catholics actually live together, and where we enjoy good local relations. There is joint work between our Churches in Schiphol Airport and in the Port Chaplaincy in Rotterdam, for instance. After the AGM, in the 13 century chapter house of the Minster, I delivered a paper covering aspects of our life together as Anglicans and Old Catholics in Europe entitled “From Anomaly to Opportunity: Diaspora and National Churches with a Common Mission”.

For more information about the Society of St Willibrord, click here. New members are always welcome!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

November 2011 Book Reviews

Here are November's book recommendations. Thanks, once again, to Dr Martin Davie, the theological advisor to the Church of England's bishops, for these thorough reviews. (Martin - where do you get all the time to read?) 

This month's selection includes works on Methodism, Inter-faith relations, Anglicanism, preaching and the increasingly important area of Christian apologetics. Also, given the nature of the questions that come to my office each day, I would say that the volume on Church law should be standard reading for clergy, churchwardens and readers.

Feliç lectura!

Click on the read more link for the reviews.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Anglicans and Lutherans in Northern Europe meet to discuss the doctrine of marriage

The Bishop of Newcastle, Co-Chairman of the Consultation
From 1 to 4 November, the Churches of the Porvoo Communion held a consultation in Turku, Finland on the Churches’ teaching on marriage. Delegates represented the Anglican Churches in England, Ireland and Scotland, and the Lutheran Churches in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Observers were present from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, and the Latvian Lutheran Church Abroad.

The consultation was felt to be timely, given that in our countries legislation on marriage is changing, and these changes are drawing responses from our Churches. For instance, Sweden passed a gender neutral marriage law in 2009. The Church of Sweden subsequently revised its liturgy of marriage accordingly.

I was invited to the consultation as a “keynote listener” - a kind of rapporteur - to feed back to the consultation what the participants were saying to each other. It was 4 days of honest exchange and dialogue. The Churches affirmed that their central and shared task is to witness together for Christ in a complex and changing Europe. The representatives recognised that throughout its history the Christian Church has had to face the challenges of a changing society. The consultation affirmed that the Church is in but not wholly of the world as she seeks to live and proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ afresh in each generation.

During the days together members from each Church shared their official teaching on marriage, as well as their pastoral experiences. There were also presentations covering aspects of the scriptural foundations for marriage, the development of doctrine, and human genetics.

The consultation concluded that differences over the introduction of same-sex marriage remain unresolved. The Churches hold a variety of views and pastoral practices along a theological spectrum. Some believe same sex marriage to be a legitimate development in the Christian tradition, whilst others see the potential for a serious departure from the received tradition. Nevertheless the consultation affirmed the benefits of "belonging to one another" and the value of honest encounter. The strong relationship of the Porvoo Communion, provides a “platform of sustained communication in the face of issues which raise difficulties for [the Churches]”

A communiqué from the consultation can be found here. A full report is to be made available later in 2012. 

The closing eucharist was celebrated in the 15th century parish church of St Mary, near the conference centre. 

St Mary's Church

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Revd John-Henry Bowden, new Priest-in-Charge of Malaga

The Diocese welcomes back the Reverend John-Henry Bowden who was licensed as Priest-in-Charge of the Anglican Church of St George, Malaga, on 11 November by the Archdeacon of Gibraltar, the Venerable David Sutch. Fr John-Henry comes with a rich experience of life in our diocese. He was formerly Priest-in-Charge of St George's, Venice (with St Anthony of Egypt, Padua and Christ Church Trieste) and subsequently served as Interim Chaplain to Bishop Geoffrey. 

The Very Revd John Paddock, the Dean of Gibraltar, and the Revd Canon Alan Maude, from the neighbouring parish of Costa del Sol West, attended the service in St George's at which Churchwardens Rosella Parmiter and Anne Ecclestone formally welcomed John-Henry and his wife Marilyn on behalf of the parish.

St George's Church has a special place in our diocesan history. It is the oldest Anglican Church in mainland Spain. The first priest was appointed in 1850 when services were held next door to the British Consulate. The building was once the cemetery chapel in what was established in 1829 as the first protestant cemetery in Spain.

As well as British nationals, members now include American, Canadian, French, Dutch, Scandinavian, Nigerian, Ghanaian and Spanish families. The parish includes 3 daughter congregations in Torre del Mar, Competa and Salinas. The website is here.

In the pictures from the service below, the Archdeacon is wearing a Peruvian stole and the altar is dressed with a Peruvian frontal, a reminder of the link between the Archdeaconry and the Diocese of Peru.

Canon Maude, Anne Ecclestone, Archdeacon Sutch, Fr Bowden, Rosella Parmiter, Dean Paddock

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Pro Cathedral in Brussels offers an "all-in-one" service

The Revd Augustine Nwaekwe

It felt like the Anglican Communion was gathered at Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral in Brussels on 9 October for a liturgy which was described by the Revd Augustine Nwaekwe, the Assistant Chaplain in Brussels, as an "All-in-One" service. As Fr Augustine noted, "it incorporated baptism, confirmation, admission into the Church of England, "churching"- thanksgiving after childbirth, and a memorial thanksgiving service for the father of a member! 

Candidates for confirmation from Holy Trinity Brussels were joined by others from from St Pauls Tervuren and the English Church at Oostende. Clergy present included the Reverends Clifford Owen (Oostende), Gillian Wilton (Tervuren), Jack MacDonald (Leuven), Robert Innes, and Augustine Nwaekwe (Brussels). 

The 2 1/2 hour service had a distinctive African style, with the multi-lingual music provided by Holy Trinity's African Choir "Living Waters Singers" led by Dr David Mitchell. The name of one of the confirmands, Omotayo, means "a child is more than joy" in Yoruba. "More than joy" summed up the feelings of the day, which ended with an African banquet in the parish hall of the pro-Cathedral. 

It was an elated but exhausted bishop that Fr Augustine sent off on a train back to London after the festivities!