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.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Church of St John and St Philip, The Hague

The Church of St John and St Philip in The Hague, Netherlands, is one of our oldest congregations in the Diocese in Europe. The present Church building is the fourth home for the congregation, which was founded in 1586. With this venerable history, it is still, after over 4 centuries, a vibrant parish with a very international membership. There are four services each Sunday. The chaplain is the Revd Andrew Gready who is assisted by the Revd Chris Nicholls, the Revd Dr Roland Price and the Revd Barry Birch.

On a recent visit 12 candidates were presented to me for confirmation.

The Church website is here.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Clergy from Turkey meet the Archbishop of Canterbury in Istanbul

Canon Higgins and Canon Sherwood with Archbishop Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury recently made a quick two day visit to Istanbul at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His All Holiness Bartholomew I. The British Consul General, Mr Leigh Turner CMG, gave a reception in the Archbishop's honour at the Pera House, the historic centre of the British diplomatic mission to Turkey since Ottoman times. Among the guests were two of our own clergy in Turkey, the Revd Canon Ian Sherwood, the Chaplain of Christ Church with St Helena's, Istanbul, and the Revd Canon Dr John Higgins, the Priest-in-Charge of St Nicholas's, Ankara.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bishop's Lent Appeal 2014 - for Afghan Women and Girls

Below is the letter which I sent out to the congregations of the diocese this week, to launch the Bishop's Lent Appeal for 2014. It is an exciting project, and we are grateful for the partnership with Christian Aid who have negotiated 3:1 matching funds from the EU.

Click on the page tab entitled "Bishop's Lent Appeal" for more information.
On Ash Wednesday, 5 March, we begin the 40 day journey of Lent when Christians, through the disciplines of prayer, fasting and self-denial, strengthen our relationship with God. We will seek to repent of the ways that mar God’s image in us, and keep us from his purposes for our lives. But we will also hear the Prophet Isaiah’s voice, “Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58.6). Our repentance is shown in action to address human need, and to set free our sisters and brothers from the slavery of injustice and oppression.
This year the Bishop’s Lent Appeal is in partnership with Christian Aid, to support the education and empowerment of over 1000 women in Afghanistan. Afghan women and girls, already at a disadvantage in a country devastated by years of conflict, have also been excluded from education and participation in community life under the oppressive rule of the Taliban. This project will help to set women free, through providing literacy and education, training in their rights, and providing funds in communities for small grassroots projects to benefit marginalised women and youth. The empowering of women in this ancient land is key to building the future of this country, which actually borders with our own Diocese in Europe. 
Christian Aid has given over this project uniquely to us in this Diocese, and has secured 3:1 matching funding from the EU. So our own gifts will be partnered with European international development money to provide substantial support to this work. I would like to challenge the faithful of our congregations to raise at least £15,000, which with EU matching funding will mean that a total of £60,000 will benefit this important project.
More information is in the accompanying flyer, on the diocesan website and available from Christian Aid itself (
Please give generously to this appeal, and help to transform the lives of Afghan women and girls and build a generation of hope.
With my prayers for a blessed Lent, Holy Week and Easter
+ David

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Not the easiest of days

I spent yesterday with the 100 or so other bishops of the Church of England and with the 8 women who are the regional representatives to the House of Bishops, discussing the content of the Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, known as the Pilling Report, after Sir Joseph Pilling who chaired the working group. It was a challenging day as we sought to share perspectives on the Report. It is clear that discernment in the midst of such potentially divisive issues is necessarily a lengthy process. 

The Church holds many dimensions of the matter of human sexuality in balance, even perhaps in tension. This is not an easy position for the Church to be in. Neither is such a complex set of  theological, missiological and pastoral challenges something which the world's media easily understands. For me, these are some of the questions we face, and about which I hope the people of God in this diocese might have opportunity for some honest, respectful and theologically informed discussion: 

Theological questions: What is the joyful and good news of the Gospel that the Church can proclaim with regard to human sexuality? How can the Church's traditional teaching, based on Scripture, and informed by Tradition and Reason, help the Church promote human flourishing? How do we listen to what the Spirit might be saying to the Church today, and discern the mind of Christ on these matters?

Missiological questions: How can the Church commend its teaching in the light of the profound shift in popular opinion in England, Europe and the West on matters related to human sexuality, not least among younger generations who find the Church's teaching to be a stumbling block? While the Church's mission does not mean a wholesale conforming to culture, does the truth of the Gospel need to be refreshed by new insights?

Pastoral: Within the framework of the traditional teaching of the Church, what pastoral approaches can be taken to welcome and affirm the presence within the Church of gay and lesbian people, lay and ordained?What approaches can the Church have which are loving and positive, while also provisional and not necessarily implying some ultimate change in doctrine?

Below the fold is the statement which we released today about our discussions. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

St Andrew's Tangier explores the next stage in its ministry

The ancient city of Tangier lies on the southern shore of the Straits of Gibraltar, almost at the
westernmost tip of Africa and facing Tarifa, its closest European neighbour. The first English Church in the city was founded during the period of Charles II’s reign when Tangier came into English possession as part of the dowry of Queen Catherine of Braganza. The present St Andrew's Church stands on a site given by Sultan Hassan I in 1883. The building was consecrated in 1905.

The architecture combines English and Moroccan styles; the arch over the chancel is decorated the Lord's Prayer in Arabic calligraphy, for instance. There are other motifs throughout the building which point to the unity of the "People of the Book".

For many years there has been no resident priest. Sacramental services have been provided by visiting locum clergy. St Andrew's is now considering taking steps towards welcoming once again a resident priest-in-charge, who can lead them forward in outreach to the foreign Anglophone community as well as to many other foreign residents in the city. There is already a flourishing presence of African Anglicans from a variety of sub-Saharan countries, who also would value the presence of a resident priest to provide pastoral care and spiritual guidance.

On a recent visit, I was able to confirm several members from Liberia, UK and Nigeria.

St Andrew's was immortalised by Henri Matisse who painted the Church in 1912. The original now hangs in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Story of Solidarity with Refugees from the Church of the Resurrection, Istanbul

The Church of the Resurrection, Pera, is our Turkish-speaking Anglican parish located in the centre of Istanbul. For many years now this unique Church of England parish has been organising a party for refugee children and their families during the Christmas season.  It is a priority for the Church’s programme of “Mercy Ministry” to help the refugees in the city as much as they can. Of course, helping the refugees consists merely of “sticking a band-aid” on the wound, since finding a solution for the root of the problems is near impossible. The need is exceedingly great and complicated.

“All that we do is for the children,” says one of the Church volunteers who lovingly organised the games for the children at the party. “I wonder if there will be enough food,” muses another of the volunteers preparing sandwiches. “This year there are more people than the previous years,” says one who has been participating in this event for many years, happy yet slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of the need. “Thank you for the party and the presents. It’s so special for these children, because they usually never experience anything like this,” says the representative of the ecumenical refugee ministry, who ministers to them throughout the year. Many children from Iraq, Afghanistan, Cameroon and of course, Syria, leave the party with colourful presents and smiles. “Thank you for everything!” they say.

The Church of the Resurrection, Pera, began this accompaniment for refugees in the city out of a desire to provide an experience for the children and their families where they would feel special, wanted, valued and where they could truly have some fun. Every year more people join this event that has been on-going for many years now. Every child who comes to the party is given a unique  “shoe box” wrapped in cheerful seasonal paper, prepared individually for them. This year parishioners prepared over 100 boxes. And yet the need was even greater.

Although an Anglican initiative, the Church of the Resurrection members are joined by other Christians in the city. The hall for the event is generously offered by the (Roman Catholic) Caritas Ministry. Some volunteers are not members of a member of any church, but join in the preparation activities, games, crafts and face painting for the children. 

This year was the most crowded so far.  The war in Syria and the surrounding vicinity has vastly increased the number of asylum seekers in Turkey. The need is great.  “What we can do is a drop in the ocean,” says ones of the volunteers from The Church of the Resurrection, Pera, but then adds, “May God increase what we have given, just as He increased the loaves of bread and the fish. May He show us our part in this ministry and give us wisdom on this journey of solidarity”.

The Priest-in-Charge of the Church of the Resurrection, the Revd Engin Yildirim, says, “In the midst of uncertainty and hardship in the region, we must live the truth of the Gospel, helping the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Provision of Anglican worship and pastoral care for foreign Anglophones in Morocco is due to expand

Canon Sabry and Archbishop Landry
The English-speaking foreign community in Morocco is growing. Our established historic parishes are in Casablanca and Tangiers, but there are now communities of English-speakers from the UK, USA and other countries, who are in Marrakech and Rabat. 60% of all flights to Morocco from the UK are destined for Marrakech, where there is a large expatriate resident community as well as seasonal holiday-makers and business-folk. Rabat, the capital city, has in addition many staff from English-speaking embassies. 
Canon Medhat Sabry, the priest-in-charge of St John the Evangelist parish in Casablanca, accompanied me recently on visits to these two cities to explore how these Anglophone foreign nationals might receive pastoral care and attention and be able to participate in worship on a regular basis. Conversations were held in each place with British diplomats, and members of the foreign communities. The British Ambassador, HE Clive Alderton, is very supportive of this development. We are ensuring that the appropriate officials of the Moroccan government are kept fully informed of this pastoral initiative to serve our foreign communities, and their response has been very gracious and warm. 

The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Rabat, Monseigneur Vincent Landry, has kindly offered the use of Roman Catholic Church buildings in Rabat and Marrakech, for these Anglican services. Fr Medhat has already made contact with the clergy of a Franciscan parish in Marrakech about arrangements there. Ecumenical cooperation is very good in Morocco, among the 4 recognised Christian Churches - the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, the French Protestant and the Church of England.

Fr Medhat with Franciscan Clergy in Marrakech

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Vocations to lay ministry being explored in St John's, Casablanca

Among the signs of new life and vitality in the parish of St John the Evangelist in Casablanca, are some possible vocations to licensed lay ministry (Readers). Two enquirers come from the USA, one from Liberia and one from Nigeria. Over the next months, Canon Medhat Sabry, the Priest-in-charge will be carrying forward these vocational explorations. Licensed lay ministers, theologically trained and episcopally authorised, would be a great help in this multicultural parish, to relate pastorally and spiritually to members of the many nationalities who are members of St John's.

There are two Sunday services in St John's, one largely with members from North America and one largely with members from Sub-Saharan African countries. The Anglican liturgy is lively and uplifting, supported by an enthusiastic and talented group of musicians. There is also a burgeoning Sunday School programme.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Re-imagining Anglican Ecclesiology - a week of theological reflection and conversation in Southern Spain

Los Olivos is a retreat centre in southern Spain whose director is an Anglican priest, the Revd Daniel Mu├▒oz. Daniel recently wrote to me to draw attention to a special week of theological reflection and conversation at the centre, exploring Anglican ecclesiology in the light of current challenges and opportunities. The event is called "Re-imagining Anglican Ecclesiology". It will be held from 14 - 18 July and is geared towards senior Anglican leaders and senior diocesan staff. 

If you are interested, more information can be found here

The full programme on offer at Los Olivos can be found here.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

First confirmations in St John's Casablanca since 1996

On the eve of the third Sunday in Advent, 19 persons from the parish of St John the Evangelist, Casablanca, led the congregation out into the cool evening air of the courtyard, bearing candles signifying the light of Christ. The 19 were the first persons to be confirmed in the parish since 1996. They came from the Philippines, the USA, Nigeria and Liberia.

The Priest-in-charge of St John's, Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, is encouraging members of his multinational congregation to strengthen their commitment to Christian discipleship, through this apostolic rite of Confirmation. This Anglican parish, founded over 100 years ago, in Morocco's largest city, serves foreign English-speaking Christians from around the world.  

Monday, 13 January 2014

Archbishop Sentamu to host a conference for 18 - 30 year olds exploring vocation

On 1 March, the Archbishop of York is hosting an event for anyone aged 18 to 30 who is wondering about ordained ministry in the Church of England. The event is organised by Cranmer Hall in Durham, in conjunction with the Directors of Ordinands of York, Durham and Newcastle. It is open to people of any diocese in the Church of England. 

It is organised by a team from Cranmer Hall in conjunction with the DDOs of York, Durham and Newcastle, but is open to people of any diocese.  

If you are interested or know someone who might be interested, more information and guidelines about how to register can be found on-line at 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Diocese in Europe and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland?

I have just returned from a meeting of the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, CTBI, a body of which I am a trustee. The meeting was held in that wonderful European nation - Wales. CTBI is the ecumenical instrument which serves the Churches of the four nations, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

So you might ask, "what is a bishop of the Diocese in Europe doing as a trustee of such an organisation?" The Church of England is of course a member of CTBI. It is also a member of the national ecumenical body -  Churches Together in England, or CTE. (It would clearly not be appropriate for the Diocese in Europe to have a presence on CTE,) However my presence on CTBI is helpful in a number of ways:

1.  First I believe it corrects certain assumptions about the Church of England itself. It is much more than the Established Church in England. It has over 300 congregations, 170 clergy and 100 Lay Ministers serving the English speaking diaspora in 42 countries of Europe, plus Turkey and Morocco. We are a diocese that is growing in numerically. (We are, statistically speaking, in the lower third of C of E dioceses in terms of many indicators such as numbers on electoral roll and numbers of clergy, but certainly not the smallest). 

2.  Second, the CTBI itself tries to keep an international perspective before the thinking of the member Churches from the four nations. The international outlook of this part of the C of E is therefore is able to make a valued contribution from this perspective. 

3.  Third, some of the programme priorities of CTBI relate quite closely to our own work: the role and mission of minority and migrant Churches, for example. Also CTBI focuses on some issues related to national and ethnic identity and culture. For instance, the referendum on Scottish independence this year is a national issue for Scotland, obviously, but also an issue for the whole of the UK and moreover a European issue. 

4.  CTBI also has a particular role in keeping the concerns of Christians in the Middle East before the Churches. In this regard, it is useful that this part of the Church of England, which borders on Syria, is around the table.

It is a privilege to be a trustee of CTBI, and I am grateful to the C of E for letting someone who serves its European work have this place.

Check out the CTBI website here. There is a huge range of useful resources, prayers and liturgies, studies, and links that can be of use to our Churches.

Margaret Swinson, CTBI Moderator and the Revd Bob Fyffe, CTBI General Secretary

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Licensed Lay (Reader) Ministry is on the increase in Europe

Debbie Cunningham, (above) the Ministry Team Administrator, has recently updated me on the growth of Reader Ministry in the Diocese in Europe. ("Readers" in the Church of England are theologically trained, licensed lay ministers). Debbie reports that
  • Besides about 100 already licensed, at the present moment there about 30 - 35 in training for this ministry. (The course of training normally takes 3 years).
  • There are 10 candidates who are just about ready to begin training, following selection for this ministry.
  • There are 4 persons who are in active stages of exploration of a call to this ministry
  • About 10 are in the process of transferring their Reader ministry from other dioceses in the Church of England to this Diocese in Europe.
All this is just one part of Debbie's role in the Ministry Team, but it is keeping her busy!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Environment Newsletter for January

Our Diocesan Environmental Officer, Madeleine Holmes, has just circulated this message to the people of the Diocese. It can also be found on the diocesan website.


My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
I pray you had a Christmas Celebration of joy and hope and now wish you every blessing for 2014

We have many challenges to face both in our church life, our personal lives and in the security and caring of our Wonderful World, for which we give thanks to God .

The first challenge will be the debate at General Synod in February on the Environment and the Environment team are working hard to make sure this is a good and encouraging debate. Please pray for this.

Our second challenge is to have taken account of the Report which we had on website last year telling us how the scientists view our progress with caring for our world and to act.

Our next challenge is to continue the progress but press on towards our goal of saving the planet and actually achieving change before the next Summit in Paris in 2015.

We have 24 months until the Paris Summit, the meeting that world leaders have decided will determine the fate of our efforts to fight climate change. It might seem like a long time - it's not.

This is what the experts warned us about. As the earth warms, it creates many "tipping points" that accelerate the warming out of control. Warming thaws the Arctic sea ice, destroying the giant white 'mirror' that reflects heat back into space, which massively heats up the ocean, and melts more ice, and so on. We spin out of control. In 2013 everything -- storms, temperatures -- was off the charts.

I am asking, suggesting, that the Environment features strongly on your Prayer Chains in your churches this year.

Secondly, that you look at the ‘wheel’ below, which was introduced at the Diocesan Environmental Officers' Conference in September by Elizabeth Gentil of Chester Diocese.
Environment WheelWheel in action

Elizabeth suggests you make one of these wheels and display it in your church.  Looking at each section the congregation can monitor what they are doing as a church and perhaps what more they can do.  You could perhaps get the Sunday School children to help make the wheel.  You may well find that you are doing more than you thought, which will encourage you to perhaps stretch and do a little more!

Please let me know how this works for you and send me a report and a picture that we can display as part of a collage on our website. I really care about our planet and I know you do too, so let’s getting cracking!!!!

With love and blessings,

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Anglican Church in St Petersburg

We do not hear very much about the Anglican Church in St Petersburg, Russia, even though this is one of the oldest congregations in the diocese. At present there is no resident priest for the parish. However, the congregation continues to flourish, and is a community of people of all ages, some from St Petersburg itself, but others from all over the world who find themselves in the city for study, business, or tourism.

It is a tribute to the commitment of the congregation and its Churchwardens that services, normally a sung Eucharist, are held each week at 11 am. The services are in St Katarina's Swedish Church and are led by locum Anglican clergy as well as clergy from the Finnish and Swedish Lutheran Churches who have been given authorisation, under the Porvoo Agreement. (This is a good example of the Porvoo Agreement having practical application in this diocese). There is also a Sunday School held each week during the 11 am service.

The Anglican Church in St Petersburg has centuries of history behind it, from pre-1917 days. The congregation is poised to embrace a new and exciting future, and key to that will be the recruitment of a resident priest.

The Church has a website with more information here.