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.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

February 2012 Book Reviews

Here is a selection of books reviewed for February. The Archbishop of Canterbury's 2012 Lent Book Love Unknown, is among them. Useful Lenten reading for those of us in consumer societies will also be found in the volume by Laura Hartman.

In addition there are meaty theological works on several topics: how we may have misread St Augustine,  missiology (important for our Diocese), the Cross and Resurrection and Liturgics. There are two challenging works on the place of religion in society, one looking at the erosion of its place in the West, and another on the role of the Established Church. We can read the latter with a certain objectivity, as we live in the part of the Church of England that is not estabished by law! (Except perhaps in Belgium, but now we're getting complicated...!)

As usual I am indebted to Dr Martin Davie, the Bishops' Theological Advisor, for these reviews.

Bonne lecture!

For the reviews press the read more button.

The Revd Alida Tollefsen to East Netherlands

The Reverend Alida Tollefsen van de Lans, formerly Vicar of St Cross, Knutsford (Chester) will become the Chaplain of the East Netherlands Group of Chaplaincies effect from 1 March 2012. The East Netherlands Group is a cluster of three congregations in Arnhem Nijmegen and Twente. 

Alida (also known as Alja) was born in the Netherlands, in Rotterdam. Before her theological studies and ordination in the Church of England, she trained as a medical doctor. We welcome Alja to this diocese in Europe.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

General Synod update

I have already reported that at the recent February group of sessions of the General Synod, first consideration was given to our Diocese in Europe Measure, the primary purpose of which is to allow the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council to apply funds for the development of the mission of our diocese. The draft Measure now goes to a Revision Committee.

But the General Synod acted on some other important matters too: 

Women in the Episcopate
An illustrative draft Code of Practice was presented; the Synod took note of a report from the Business Committee on the outcome of the reference to the dioceses; and the Synod debated a diocesan synod motion from Manchester (also passed by several other dioceses) and a substantial amendment to that motion from the diocese of Southwark. The result was an  acceptance of the Southwark amendment (itself in a slightly amended form), so that the motion as passed called on the House of Bishops ‘in the exercise of its power under Standing Order 60(b) not to amend the draft Measure substantially.  

What next? 
The draft legislation is now sent to the House of Bishops which will consider any amendments in May. It remains to be seen how any amendments they make will be judged to be substantial or not. At the July Sessions of General Synod in York final approval for the legislation could, in theory, be reached. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of the draft measure. After final approval, the timing passes out of the hands of Synod and over to Parliament. There are three parliamentary stages: consideration by the Ecclesiastical Committee, debate in the House of Commons and debate in the House of Lords. If Parliament were to conclude consideration of the legislation in time for Royal Assent to be given by December 2012, the House of Bishops could work on the Code of Practice to bring to the Synod for consideration in February 2013. Subject to receipt of the Royal Assent and Licence for the Amending Canon, it is possible for the promulgation of the Amending Canon to occur in July 2013. However, this is the earliest possible date and is dependent both on decisions that the Synod itself and its various Houses have yet to take and on how quickly Parliament and Her Majesty’s advisers respectively would be able to deal with the Measure and the Amending Canon.
Clergy Discipline Measure
The Synod completed the Revision Stage for amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure. The major amendment is to allow disciplinary proceedings to be brought against clergy who are members of, or otherwise support, organisations which have been declared by the House of Bishops to have aims which are inconsistent with the teaching of the Church of England on race equality.
Liturgical Business
Additional Eucharistic Prayers for use when a significant number of children are present were referred to the House of Bishops which will decide in May whether to amend the texts in any way and whether to return them to the Synod for Final Approval. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Reader Conference: a few places left. Hurry!

Readers and readers in training in the Diocese in Europe: if you have not yet registered for the Europe Diocesan Readers' Conference, there are still a few places left! 

The Conference is this June 15-18 in Cologne, Germany. The theme is Bearing the Word and a panel of speakers and resource persons will focus on different aspects of the ministry of Reader in the Church of England.
  • Nick Clarke (Senior Communications Officer for the Church of England): Communicating the Word in the Modern World
  • The Revd Elaine Labourel (Tutor for Reader Training in the Diocese): Bearing the Word in the Liturgy of the Church
  • The Revd Sara McVane (Assistant Priest, St Andrew's Zurich): Equipping Readers to address conflict in  the Church
  • Dr Clare Amos (World Council of Churches Executive for Inter Religious Dialogue): Reading the Bible and Contemporary Hermeneutics
  • The Revd Dr Paul Collins (Vicar of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne): Prayer and Spirituality, Rooted in the Word.
Daily worship drawing from the rich liturgical resources of the Church of England will undergird the days together. There will be time for sharing experiences and insights with Readers and those in training for this ministry of the word from across Europe.

The cost is £360. Licensed Readers in Europe can apply CME grant money towards this. (£150 is allocated per year, per Reader, so two years allocation almost covers the conference cost). Please contact your Archdeacon (or your priest). Readers in Training should also contact their Archdeacon or speak to their priest for grant support information.

The conference has been planned by a team which includes Readers and Readers in Training from the diocese who are aware of the particular joys and challenges of this ministry in Europe. The planning team is pictured below.

To download a registration form click here.

Ash Wednesday: the 40 day journey begins

....for in these forty days you lead us into the desert of repentance that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline we may grow in grace and learn to be your people once again. (Proper Preface for Lent, Common Worship). 

Christians journey in Lent towards the Cross and Resurrection. We recall the forty year pilgrimage of the ancient people of Israel, between slavery in Egypt and the security of the promised land. It was a prolonged time in the wilderness, the desert, with little water, food or resources. But in the poverty of that sojourn the people learned of God's covenant with them, revealed at Mt Sinai. So may our Lenten discipline renew our faith in the promise of salvation.
Lord, free us from falling into the sin of believing that the slavery in Egypt is better than the struggles in the desert. (A prayer from Nicaragua) 


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Fat Tuesday is here; you know what comes next...

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. The former name recalls this as a time to be shriven or for confessions to be heard, and penances imposed. The latter name, “fat Tuesday”, points to the need to use up the rich ingredients in the kitchen before the Lenten fast, hence the tradition of eating pancakes. Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. 

The Book of Common Prayer makes clear that the 40 days of Lent are days of “fasting or abstinence”. The 40 days do not include Sundays, which are always feast days. As a season to “tune up” our spiritual lives, there are many ways to observe this solemn period. Some suggestions include,
  • Carving out time for daily prayer, perhaps using one of the forms for the daily office of the Church, such as Common Worship: Daily Prayer. (This is available online here, by the way).
  • Switching off or reducing one’s wired connections, disciplining the use of the internet, facebook, emails etc, using the gained time for reading or time with family or friends.
  • Eating a vegetarian diet on certain days in Lent (Fridays are traditional). We in the Global North consume 46% of the world's meat, a luxury for most on the planet. Reducing meat consumption is also helpful to the environment as meat production uses more water, produces more methane and has contributed to loss of rain forests to make space to graze cattle. Some bishops of the Church of England are abstaining from eating meat altogether during Lent.  
  • Living like the poor for some of the 40 days. The abject poor of this world live on less than £1 per day. This may be virtually impossible in Europe, but one might try setting aside some days each week in Lent (perhaps Wednesdays and Fridays) to see how close we can come, then donate the money saved to a charity or the Bishop’s Lent Appeal.
Christian Aid has an excellent resource called Count Your Blessings, which offers suggestions for action and contemplation each day in Lent. It can be downloaded here

Monday, 20 February 2012

Heidelberg continues its anniversary year

The English Church in Heidelberg continues to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its refounding in 1971. However, Anglican services have been held in the city as far back as 1613. In that year, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of James I of England (VI of Scotland), moved to join her new husband the Elector Palatine Friedrich V. From that time, the chapel in Heidelberg Castle became an Anglican place of worship (and apparently still is!).

The present congregation shares the Old Catholic Church of the Redeemer, a former chapel of a Dominican  Convent, which had been the Anglican Church from 1847 to 1914. No regular Anglican services were held in Heidelberg from 1914 to 1971. The Church of England gave the building to the Old Catholics in 1936.

The congregation is led by the Reader in Charge, Dr Rosemary Selle, (2nd from right, above) with eucharists provided by locum priests and occasionally by the Old Catholic priest. As a congregation which is entirely dependent on the laity for its organisation and administration, no less than 7 former members have discerned a vocation and subsequently been ordained to the priesthood since 1990!

Last Sunday was a joyous occasion for the confirmation of two members and the reception of another (from the Roman Catholic Church).

The website is here.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chrism Eucharists in the Diocese in Europe

Every year during Holy Week the oils that are used throughout the following year for ministry to the sick, for Christian initiation, and for ordination are solemnly blessed in an episcopal service. This is also the occasion at which the clergy and Readers of the diocese are invited to reaffirm the promises and commitments they have made in their ministry, before their bishops.

As in recent years, in order to include more clergy and Readers in this significant event, the Diocesan Bishop and the Suffragan Bishop will preside at Chrism Eucharists in different centres in the diocese.

ZURICH - Tuesday 3 April, 12.00 noon
St Andrew’s Church, Bishop Geoffrey presiding and preaching. A simple lunch will follow the service.

BRUSSELS - Tuesday 3 April, 12.00 noon
The Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Bishop David presiding. The preacher will be the Revd Canon Dr Jack McDonald, Priest-in-Charge of the Church of St Martha and St Mary, Leuven, Associate Chaplain of the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Brussels, and Research Fellow in the Faculteit Theologie en Religiewetenschappen in the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. A simple lunch will follow the service.

The laity play an important role in representing the whole body of the faithful of the diocese in praying for God’s gifts of faithfulness, zeal and commitment for all ministers, lay and ordained. So members of the laity are warmly encouraged to attend these services.

We hope that those diocesan clergy and Readers who, because of distance, are unable to be present at one of these services will associate themselves in prayer with these celebrations and take the opportunity, whether together or alone, to make an act of rededication in Holy Week.

Clergy and Readers attending the Eucharist in Zurich should inform the chaplain, the Revd Canon John Newsome, that you will be present ( Clergy and Readers attending the Eucharist in Brussels should inform the chaplain, the Revd Canon Dr Robert Innes, that you will be present ( For directions to St Andrew's and to the Pro-Cathedral, see below.

Clergy should bring an alb (or cassock and surplice) and a white stole or preaching scarf, and readers a cassock and surplice or alb, and reader scarf. 

Oils will be available for distribution after the services. Clergy who cannot attend but who wish to receive supplies of newly-blessed oil for anointing the sick and candidates for baptism (the bishops bring Chrism oil with them for confirmations etc) should contact Mrs Bron Panter at the diocesan office before the end of April, on + 44 020 7898 1155 (or, who will keep a list of requests.

St Andrew’s Church, Zurich
Located at Promenadengasse 9, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 44 252 6024
Please be at the church not less than 30 minutes before the service which begins at 1200 noon.

The Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
Located at 29 rue Capitaine Crespel, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 511 71 83
Please be at the church not less than 30 minutes before the service which begins at 1200 noon.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Revd Hazel Door: New Chaplain of Good Shepherd Poitou-Charentes

Archdeacon Letts and the Revd Hazel Door
On Saturday 28thJanuary 2012 in the Church of St Nicholas, Civray the Revd Hazel Door was licenced as the new Chaplain of the Church of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes by the Anglican Archdeacon of France, the Venerable Kenneth Letts. Hazel had previously been an assistant curate in the parish, following on ordination. She then served as priest-in-charge of Christ Church Brittany from 2007 to 2010 before returning to Poitou-Charentes to take up the post of Assistant Chaplain in 2010. When the then chaplain, the Revd Michael Hepper left in 2011 to take up a new parish back in England, Hazel applied for the senior post and was appointed.

We pray for her new ministry, which, although back on her "home turf", now carries enhanced responsibilities, including the coordination of a ministry team of priests and readers who offer services and pastoral care in this vast area. The parish covers 4 departments in western France!

Their website is here.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bishop of Quebec at All Saints in Rome

One of the bishops who attended the recent Sant'Egidio meeting was the Rt Revd Dennis Drainville (2nd from right), the Bishop of Quebec in  the Anglican Church of Canada. Bishop Dennis and I were classmates at Trinity College in Toronto, but we have had little contact for over 30 years. It was good to re-establish our friendship and to reflect on our episcopal ministries together.

I took Bishop Dennis to All Saints, Rome, on Sunday morning, the 5 February where he concelebrated with me and Archdeacon Jonathan Boardman (left).

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Ecumenical Bishops' Meeting in Rome

Bishops Jürgen Johannesdotter (retired Schaumburg-Lippe, EKD) and Ole Christian Kvarme (Oslo, Church of Norway)
About 100 bishops of the Sant'Egidio movement, mostly from Africa, but with a small number from Europe, Asia and Latin America met in Rome from 1 to 5 February. Most were Roman Catholic, but there were a handful of Anglicans, Lutherans and Orthodox among them. It was a time to reflect together on the effect of Vatican II on the life of the Churches, and to explore the words of Pope John Paul XXIII who opened the Council 50 years ago, calling for "a Church for all, particularly the poor".

It was a challenging theme: we were reminded as bishops that a poor Church is a Church that is a friend of the poor, that knows their world, that puts them at the centre of her life. "Only if we are friends of the poor can we be a Church of all".

Cardinal Levada
The meeting began with a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle St Peter, then a Papal audience. There were a number of times of common prayer and celebration including a eucharist in the Basilica of St John Lateran, presided by Cardinal Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and prayers in the St Bartholomew's Church on Tiber Island, where 20th centrury martyrs of all Christian Churches are commemorated, including three Anglican members of the Melanesian Brotherhood, Patteson Gatu, Alfred Hill and Robin Lindsay, who gave their lives for the Gospel in Guadalcanal. Some items belonging to the Brothers are displayed in one of the chapels.

During our time in Rome snows covered the city, a sight not seen since 1985! The African bishops especially enjoyed this experience, but the centre of the city was unusually quiet and deserted as schools were cancelled and people stayed home rather than venture out in the icy conditions.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Estonian Clergy Conference

At the invitation of the Archbishop of Estonia, the Most Revd Andres Põder, I attended the annual clergy conference of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was held from 24-25 January in Roosta, in the NW of the country. The theme of the gathering, which brought together over 100 priests from the Estonian Church, was preaching. The Bishop of Rochester and I (the diocese of Rochester and the diocese of Estonia are twinned) ran a workshop on preaching in the Anglican tradition. 

A highlight of the annual clergy conference is a banquet where several people are honoured, including the "priest of the year", who is chosen by secret ballot of clergy colleagues. The priest of the year must have had particular success during the past year in a particular project or parish programme. (I am not sure this would work in the Diocese in Europe; for one thing, we could not agree on what constitutes "success"!) 

The Church of England is in communion with the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, through the Porvoo Agreement. The Revd Gustav Piir (above) is licensed to serve our Church of England congregation of SS Timothy and Titus in Tallinn.


Friday, 10 February 2012

Parish life must go on, even in an interregnum

Even in a vacancy, Christian nurture in our congregations continues and candidates for confirmation are prepared and presented for this sacrament. For this we are thankful for the voluntary work of locum clergy and retired priests with Permission to Officiate who step in to provide essential pastoral care during an interregnum.

The parish of Pas de Calais in France is an example of this. The former priest-in-charge left towards the end of 2011 to take up a new appointment in Zurich. In the meantime, the Revd John Porter, a retired priest who lives in the pastoral area of Pas de Calais, has been "keeping an eye" on things. It was a moment of particular joy in the congregation when, on a recent pastoral visit, Fr John presented to me a candidate for confirmation at a packed service held in Hesdin.  

In the photo above, the Revd John Porter is on the right. The local curé who also attended the service (a sign of the excellent ecumenical relations) is third from the right.  

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Anglican Communion Lent Course 2012

In case your parish has not yet decided on a Lent programme for this year, you might want to have a look at "And it was good" 

This is the title of a  5-session course available for group or individual use in Anglican Churches around the world. It is based on the  fifth mark of mission as understood by the Anglican Communion:  ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth". It aims to help us discover how key aspects of the life, ministry and death of Jesus Christ also shed light upon this theme.

The course has been put together by Anglicans from around the world, which make it an ideal resource for our own multi-cultural diocese, which has often been described as "the Anglican Communion in miniature".

The five sessions are:
  1. The hope of something new (exploring Isaiah 11:1-9 and Mark 1:9-15)
  2. The place of humanity in the created order (exploring Genesis 1-2 and Jeremiah 4:11-28)
  3. Jesus – the centre and heart of all creation (exploring Colossians 1:9-29 and Mark 4:30-41)
  4. Creation blesses the Lord (exploring Psalm 104 and the Benedicite, the Song of the Three Young Men)
  5. Creation groans in painful hope (exploring Romans 8:12-27 and 2 Peter 3:1-13)
Each session contains:
  • Bible Exploration of one or two biblical passages related to aspects of creation.
  • Reflection on how our understanding can be deepened by the experiences of Anglican Christians throughout the world.
  • Reading the Bible with Anglicans around the world, reflecting on what our exploration suggests about the ways other Anglicans read the Bible.
  • Questions for discussion
  • Sharing our insights with other Anglicans
  • Closing prayer
The course is available as a free downloadable resource from here

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

General Synod Gives Approval to the First Reading of Diocese in Europe Measure

This morning, the General Synod passed, by overwhelming majority, the first reading of the draft Diocese in Europe Measure. There was clearly strong support for this legislation which will help to bring this diocese into line with the other 43 in the Church of England with regard to being eligible to receive funds from the Church Commissioners. A key part of the proposed measure reads:
That the Church Commissioners may, from time to time, pay, out of their general fund, such sums as they think fit for the purpose of the development of the mission of the Diocese in Europe.  
A revision committee will now prepare the measure for final approval at another session of the Synod.  Members of the diocese will know what good news this is, and we thank all who have supported the measure to this stage.

Cooperation with women bishops is not entirely new to the Diocese in Europe

The Church of England General Synod continues its process with regard to women in the episcopate this week. There is a range of opinion in our diocese about women bishops, as in the other 43 dioceses of the Church of England. But it is interesting to note (and perhaps this is a distinction from the other 43), that we already have routine collaboration and good working relations with women bishops. I am referring, of course, to such bishops already consecrated in some of the Lutheran Churches which have signed the Porvoo Agreement. 

One example is in Helsinki. The Bishop of Helsinki (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland) is the Rt Revd Irja Askola. Like her predecessor, Bishop Eero Huovinen, she is providing vital support and encouragement to the Anglican Church in Finland's chaplaincy of St Nicholas in Helsinki. We are grateful for funding from Finnish parishes in her diocese, as well as support from the Headquarters of the Finnish Church, which provides essential support for our own ministry. I was recently able to visit her to thank her for her Church's ongoing, and tangible, commitment, and for her role as bishop which serves to make this possible. 

Bishop Irja is an experienced ecumenist having given significant leadership in the Conference of European Churches and in her own country. She maintains particularly warm relations with the Orthodox Church in Finland, which, although a much smaller body, is also an official national church.

Monday, 6 February 2012

O Lord, save the Queen

On this day in 1952, while in Kenya, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father King George VI's death and her own accession to the throne. Her Majesty has issued this message to her people today:

'Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the Diamond Jubilee.
In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth. 
I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations. 
I send my sincere good wishes to you all.

Diocese supporting the education of future leaders for South Sudan

During a parish visit to the White Nile congregation in Vaasa, Finland, last month, I met with the church council for an update on the Education Project which was sponsored last year by our Bishop's Lent Appeal, and later had a meeting with the students themselves. 

The congregation of several hundred families, led by Fr Amos Manga, a South Sudanese non-stipendiary priest of our Diocese, established the Education Project to provide English language instruction. English is the official language of the newly independent South Sudan. Through this programme in NW Finland, those who once had to flee their homeland are now being equipped for an eventual return, ready to give leadership in the new national language.

About 15 men and women have completed the first module and will be revising for an exam soon. Already I was able to engage in conversation with them, about their jobs, their family life and their hope for the future. All of them had virtually no English capacity at all until starting the programme! Classes are held twice a week for 2 hours at a time. Their principal teacher, Owen Ndoromo, himself a trained language instructor and member of the congregation judges that after 4 modules, these keen students will be competently fluent in English. An amazing and encouraging feat!  

Phase two of the project is ready to commence. Support for the Bishop's Lent Appeal 2012 will enable the participants to buy the new books and resources needed, and thus help them build a new future.