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.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

February 2013 Book Reviews

February is almost over, but here is this months book selection: 

Two books on Archbishops of Canterbury, a preacher's commentary on Daniel, books on pastoral and social themes, the Christian application of the works of Tolkein and Lewis and a volume to help straighten out any misunderstandings you may have concerning the theology of Arminius! These and much more are reviewed here for those who are interested in current theology.

For the reviews, click on read more.

Ecumenical Guests at Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Benedict's Ministry

Today is the last day of work for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. At 8 pm Rome time the See of Rome becomes vacant.

Last Sunday I had the honour of representing Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at a Mass of Thanksgiving for the ministry of Pope Benedict at which the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, presided. Other ecumenical guests came from the Orthodox, Armenian and United Reformed Churches as well as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Churches Together in England. We were able to convey to Archbishop Nicols the assurance of our prayers for the Roman Catholic Church at this momentous time.

In his homily, Archbishop Nichols said that now is the time to pray for the discussions and decisions of the Conclave, and to thank God for the blessings of the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and to pray that God will bless and preserve him. The Archbishop ended the service in the packed cathedral with this prayer: 
Almighty ever-living God, who has given your faithful servant Benedict grace to maintain his faith and hope in you amid the labours of his apostolic ministry; graciously bestow upon him, we pray, the consolations of your Holy Spirit and uphold him in serenity of life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(All photos © Mazur/

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Confirmation in St Mark's Versailles

It was fitting that the first celebration after the dedication of the new St Mark's Church in Versailles, was a confirmation service which was held on Sunday 17 February. 7 candidates (including one from St Paul's Chevry) were presented by the chaplain, the Revd Chris Maclay.

In a joyous liturgy, supported by the music group of St Mark's and the prayers of the community present, the candidates reaffirmed their baptismal promises, heard the words of the Father's love "God has called you by name and made you his own", were anointed with Holy Chrism, received the Apostolic Rite of laying on of hands for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and symbolically bore the light of Christ out into the world.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Revd Lars Nowen licensed in St Vincent's Algarve

In early February, the Ven David Sutch, Archdeacon of Gibraltar (3rd from left in Peruvian stole), licensed the Revd Lars Nowen as Senior Chaplain of St Vincent's Algarve. Fr Lars is in the centre of the above photo.
Fr Lars was born in Sweden, but spent much of his life in British Columbia, Canada. He is accompanied by his wife Claire, who is from Durham. 
St Vincent's Parish in the Algarve consists of four congregations in Southern Portugal. Fr Lars joins the Ministry Team of St Vincent's who are also pictured above: Fr John Wilson, locum priest, Fr Bob Bates, Chaplain, and Readers Ekhart Floether, Fiona Mayes, Maureen Kyle and Bob Kelly. 
We welcome Fr Lars and Claire to this Diocese in Europe.

Monday, 18 February 2013

New Church Building for St Mark's Versailles is Dedicated

"Now, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, + sanctify this place; for everything in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; and you are exalted as head over all." These words were part of the festive liturgy when on Saturday 16 February a new church building for St Mark's Versailles was dedicated. The service began with prayers outside the church, until at one moment the doors were formally opened and the threshold marked with the sign of the cross.  

There has been a Church of England congregation in Versailles since 1814. Now, almost 200 years after the first records of services, St Mark’s congregation has a new building, fitting for its worship. More than 250 people gathered for the formal opening and dedication service.

Assistant Chaplain, the Revd Elaine Labourel (left). Chaplain, the Revd Chris Maclay (right)
The Chaplain, the Revd Chris MacLay and the Assistant Chaplain, the Revd Elaine Labourel, were joined by many former clergy of St Mark’s, representatives of the Intercontinental Church Society, (the parish patron) as well as some of the priests from Anglican parishes in the Greater Paris area. Many former parishioners journeyed from far away to attend the service. They recalled the dream from many years back of having this new facility (architectural plans were first drawn up in 1988) and wished to be part of the historic opening ceremony. The spacious, bright and welcoming new church is completely paid for! A testimony to the generosity and stewardship of parishioners and other donors.

Long-time church member, Mr Peter Milner, prepared a historical review of St Mark’s, highlighting many moments from the past. He noted that  “the real history of St Mark’s is one of a church that has welcomed and comforted those who have felt the need of help in a foreign land. It has brought many individuals to know God and others to a deeper faith”. “This is the legacy of St Mark’s”, Peter said. “Let it continue for the next 200 years and beyond”. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Nerja and Almuñécar: youth, outreach and ecumenical relations

Members of the Church Council of Nerja and Almuñécar enjoying a lunch following a meeting

The majority of the members of the Anglican Parish of Nerja and Almuñécar are either resident retirees from the UK or “swallows”, retirees who spend part of the year in the UK and part in Spain. Nevertheless the Church Council is making efforts to attract younger families a matter of priority. One way is through the programme "Messy Church" which is held once a month. As a result, contact has been made with about 30 younger families, which gives much hope for the future.

This is also the parish which pioneered an outreach project which is now being copied in other Spanish congregations: a charity shop. Apart from the income that the shop generates each year in support of the parish’s ministry, it provides a much needed service to many local people who are finding life increasingly difficult during these economic times.

Don Salvador, RC Parish Priest in Nerja, with Fr Geoff Johnston, Anglican Priest-in-Charge
Like so many of the Church of England parishes in Spain, maintaining good local ecumenical relations in Nerja and Almuñécar is a vital priority, given that we borrow Roman Catholic churches for our services. Fr Geoff Johnston, finds that frequent meetings with his Roman Catholic colleagues helps to keep up his Spanish as well. 

On Sunday 3 February, I celebrated the Feast of Candlemass in Nerja, with Confirmations and Receptions into the Church of England. The parish website is here.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Chrism Eucharists this Holy Week: Florence and Paris

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 (lay ministers) of the diocese are invited to reaffirm the promises they have made in their ministry, before the bishop. As in recent years, in order to include more clergy and Readers, the bishops will each preside at a Chrism Eucharist in different centres in the diocese on Tuesday in Holy Week.

Paris - Tuesday 26 March, 11.30 am, 
St George’s Church
Bishop Geoffrey presiding and preaching. 

Florence - Tuesday 26 March, 12.00 noon, St Mark’s Church
Bishop David presiding. Preacher: Canon Simon Godfrey, Chancellor of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, Valetta. 
A simple lunch will follow both services
As the laity play an important role in representing the whole body of the faithful, they are strongly encouraged to attend these services where possible.

Clergy and Readers attending the Eucharist at St George’s, Paris should inform the chaplain, the Revd Matthew Harrison, that you will be present ( 
Clergy and Readers attending the Eucharist in Florence should inform the chaplain, the Revd William Lister, that you will be present ( 
Clergy should bring an alb (or cassock and surplice) and a white stole or preaching scarf. Readers should bring 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 on + 44 020 7898 1155 (or, who will keep a list of requests.
Directions to the Churches are below. Please click the read more link.

Lent is the road to a new beginning

Today we enter the journey of Lent to prepare ourselves for the great Easter feast. Most of us lead lives that are far too busy. In these forty days we are invited to follow Jesus into the wilderness, a place away from distractions and frenetic activity, to reflect on our lives. The disciplines of prayer, fasting and self-denial, and reading and meditating on God's Holy Word, are aids to help us to refocus our lives and orient them once again towards God.
O Lord our God, when death had entered this world through sin, Jesus your Son, led by the Spirit into the wilderness of temptation, chose to worship and serve you alone. Lead us through these forty days of Lent to the font of living water where we find new birth, pardon and life in your word and living bread.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Pope Announces his Resignation

The dramatic news of the intention of Pope Benedict XVI to resign which was announced today has taken the world by surprise. I must admit that when I had some close contact with him last March during an Archiepiscopal visit to Rome, at that time I thought he was looking quite frail  Even though he was animated and in very good humour during the visit (as can be seen above), it did cross my mind whether his age might be making his ministry more difficult. 

However, just last Wednesday 6 February I saw the Pope again, this time at a General Audience in the Vatican. I was moved to hear him give a very capable and lively catechesis on God as Creator of Heaven and Earth, drawing on the Book of Genesis and delivered in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, with even some words in Polish and Arabic! I concluded that God had given him renewed strength. So, along with the rest of the world I did not expect today's announcement that he will resign on 28 February, as he put it, "recognising my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me".

Pope Benedict XVI at the General Audience on 6 February
We pray for Pope Benedict XVI who has made a momentous and prayerful decision. A resignation of a Pope has not occurred since 1415. In so many ways it shows the Pope’s mature, pastoral concern for the well-being of the Church that he leads.We pray for a restful and fruitful retirement.

We pray also for the Roman Catholic Church entering this time of transition, and particularly for the College of Cardinals who will assemble in Conclave in March to elect a successor.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has issued a statement here

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Carol Johnston: New Diocesan Mothers' Union President

On 1 February Bishop Geoffrey Rowell formally admitted Mrs Carol Johnston (above) as the Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union (MU). Carol assumes this post following on the pioneering work of Barbara Woods who was our first Diocesan MU President and who tirelessly worked for the promotion and support of the MU in our congregations.

The MU is one of the oldest mission societies of the Church. It is active in over 80 countries and has an extensive programme supporting marriage and family life and working alongside vulnerable and marginalized communities around the world. In the Diocese in Europe we have 13 branches and many additional individual members.

You do not have to be a mother to be a member! You do not even have to be a woman! The MU is open to men, women, singles, married, parents, grandparents or young adults.

There is an excellent website for our Diocesan MU which can be found here. If you or a group in your church is interested in this work, do contact Carol Johnston. She would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Change of Area Dean in Gibraltar Archdeaconry

On the final evening of the Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod, Area Dean Hugh Broad (above left) was made a Canon of the Diocese by Bishop Geoffrey. This was an honour to mark Canon Broad's many years of service to the Diocese as Area Dean of Gibraltar, a position from which he stepped down on 31 January.

There were many moments during the synod when members could pay tribute to Fr Hugh for his remarkable and encouraging ministry. Following the eucharist on 31 January, there was also a moment of light entertainment when members of Canon Broad's parish of Costa Almería performed a tribute to his ministry, in pantomime form, with an astonishing array of characters, including a woman bishop!

At the same eucharist on 31 January, Bishop Geoffrey also commissioned the Revd Geoff Johnston as the new Area Dean of Gibraltar. Fr Geoff is the priest-in-charge of the parish of Nerja and Almuñécar  The job of the Area Dean of Gibraltar is rather like that of an assistant archdeacon, working alongside the archdeacon and bishops in providing pastoral care and support to the clergy and congregations. We welcome Fr Geoff to this new post.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

More news from the Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod

At the recent Synod of the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar in Torrevieja, Spain, an opportunity was given for two of their newest clergy to exercise their ministry on the feast of King Charles the Martyr. The Revd Jennifer Elliot de Riverol (above centre), assistant curate in La Palma who was ordained to the priesthood last June, presided at the eucharist, and the Revd Anne Jenkins (above right), who was licensed as priest-in-charge of Costa Brava last October, preached the sermon. The deacon for the celebration was Frances Hiller.

It was a packed agenda for the Synod. There were plenary sessions on theological, spiritual and missiological matters, as well as separate meetings devoted to the interests and needs of Readers and Readers in Training, and Parish Treasurers.

The Synod also discussed two items of business which are certain to have a wider interest in the diocese and beyond.

One had to do with the name of the Archdeaconry itself. It was agreed to forward to the Diocesan Synod the suggestion of a change in name of the Archdeaconry from "Gibraltar" to "Iberia and Gibraltar". Many felt that such a change would better reflect the geographical reality of the Archdeaconry which includes Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands), Portugal (including Madeira), Andorra, Gibraltar and Morocco, while maintaining the historic link to Gibraltar, the Diocesan See. This suggestion will now be considered by the Diocesan Synod in June.

The other was a follow up to the failure of the women bishops' measure in the General Synod. Recognising that the there is now an attempt to prepare fresh proposals for consideration at the next sessions of General Synod in July, the clergy and laity of the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar agreed, by an overwhelming majority, to pass the following motion to register the views of the Archdeaconry about the process. This motion will now go to the Diocesan Synod in June:
"The Archdeaconry Synod of Gibraltar endorses the efforts of General Synod to advance the process on the Ordination of Women as Bishops, with our hope for an expeditious and positive outcome."

Friday, 1 February 2013

Gibraltar Synod learns some lessons about mission

Archdeacon David Sutch (left), Bp Bill Godfrey (centre)
The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar, meeting in La Zenia near Torrevieja Spain from 29 January to 1 February, welcomed special guests, the Rt Revd Bill Godfrey and his wife Judith. Bishop Bill is the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Peru. The Archdeaconry has had a special link with his diocese for the past several years, supporting with prayer, resources and even through a partnership-work visit in 2010.
Bishop Bill led the daily bible studies, using the technique of group lectio divina which he promotes among his own clergy. We also learned of the growth and development of the diocese which had 4 clergy when Bishop Bill took over and which now has 46! It was a rich time of learning from the life of this diocese of the poor, as Bishop Bill describes it. We reflected on the ways the faithful of the Peruvian church are given very simple, yet at the same time profound, teaching on the nature of Christian discipleship, on what is required of parishes and missions and even what are the core responsibilities of the priests. There was much food for thought, and the clergy and people of our Archdeaconry of Gibraltar are very much enriched by this partnership.

As a constant reminder of this link the colourful altar frontal from Peru was in place for all the services of the synod.
Although they are not vastly different from what we expect our clergy to be about in the Church of England, Bishop Bill's summary of his requirements of his Peruvian priests is worth noting. In his diocese, the parish priests are responsible for 8 major things:
1. The worship and prayer life of the Church
2. For building up the community
3, Christian education in all forms
4. Pastoral care of the faithful
5. Oversight of the financial life of the church: tithing, stewardship, offerings, gifts, quotas etc
6. Oversight of parish administration: organisation of committees, buildings, registers
7. Raising up leadership for the work and mission of the Church
8. Promoting the mission and evangelism of the Church