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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Friday, 24 April 2015

RIP: The Revd Canon Geoffrey Evans MA OBE

Today in the Parish Church of Chalfont St Peter, surrounded by his family, friends and former parishioners, we bade farewell to Fr Geoffrey Evans, one of the longest serving priests of this diocese in Europe. Bishop Geoffrey Rowell presided at the requiem eucharist and Archdeacon of Morgannwg Christopher Smith preached and and brought many memories of Fr Geoffrey, some very amusing indeed, as well as reminding us of the Church in Wales heritage which so shaped his priestly ministry.

Fr Geoffrey was born in 1934 and died on Easter Eve, 4 April 2015. The preacher noted how fitting it was that he died on Easter Eve, that great time when the Church gathers in darkness to then encounter the brightness of the Resurrection: Fr Geoffrey's entire ministry centred on bringing joy and light to those around him.

Fr Geoffrey was ordained when I was but one year old! Nevertheless, we got on famously. In fact it was hard not to get on with him. I enjoyed my many visits with him in Turkey when we would remember adventures, in different decades mind you, in Guyana where he was a missionary and where I journeyed frequently as the Latin America and Caribbean Mission Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada. There were also memorable visits to the Syrian Orthodox monasteries of Tur Abdin with Fr Geoffrey who was such a faithful friend to the beleaguered Syrian Orthodox community.

A younger (and bearded) Fr Geoffrey presiding at the eucharist in Ephesus

His first appointment in this diocese was in 1973 as chaplain in Izmir and Bornova. He also served in Rome, Moscow, Istanbul and Ankara. He was the last person to hold the glorious title of Archdeacon of the Aegean and the Danube!

This diocese and the Church is richer for his ministry. We thank God for this gift of a faithful servant.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with the saints: where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

With young Syrian Orthodox friends in Tur Abdin

Thursday, 23 April 2015

French Archdeaconry Synod is not afraid to engage in dialogue on controversial issues!

The Archdeaconry of France is quite possibly the largest in the diocese with over 65 regular congregations in France and Monaco served by about 30 priests and an equal number of Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers). From 15 to 18 April the clergy and lay representatives gathered for their annual Synod at St Jacut de la Mer in Brittany, under the presidency of Archdeacon Ian Naylor. The Archdeacon (front row 3rd from left) with some of his clergy can be seen in the above photo.

Dr Taylor and Dr Methuen
The synod invited the Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen to give two papers on "The History and Theology of Marriage". Dr Methuen was a priest of this diocese, first in Bonn/Cologne, then as Director of Training. She now teaches at the Faculty of Divinity in Glasgow University. Bible studies were led by the Revd Canon Dr Simon Taylor, the Canon Chancellor of Derby Cathedral and the Ministerial Development Officer of Derby Diocese. The theme of his Bible Studies was "Sex and Marriage". I commend the members of the French Archdeaconry for engaging with two scholars on one of the most discussed (and often divisive) issues in today's Church.

Not surprisingly, with a large number of congregations and clergy, the French Archdeaconry faces a steady turnover. So an important session at the synod was given over to the procedures and norms for recruitment and appointment of clergy. It was led by the Archdeacon and my Chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, who work closely with me and the Appointments Secretary, Catherine Jackson, and the Area Deans and Parish Representatives at the time of a vacancy in a congregation of the Archdeaconry. 
Archdeacon Naylor, Deacon Hiller
Photos courtesy of the Very Revd Walter Raymond, St Paul's Monaco

Monday, 20 April 2015

Churches unite in call for action to prevent further tragedy on the Mediterranean

Once again our Mediterranean Sea has become a grave for hundreds of migrants who drowned as they desperately sought a better life in Europe. We continue to pray:
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace to remember the plight of migrants, for they are all children of God. Strengthen all efforts to protect and keep safe those who flee poverty, violence, war and persecution. Hold those who have drowned in your loving heart and comfort their families. May our leaders work together to build a world of peace with justice and prosperity, so no one need risk their lives on the seas to seek a better life. Amen.
Below is a press release issued today, 20th April, by the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) following this latest tragedy.
Churches mourn loss of life on Mediterranean, call for preventative action

Together the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), the Conference of European Churches, and the World Council of Churches grieve the drowning of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. As many as 700 people are feared dead following the capsizing of their vessel just outside Libyan waters.  Rescue efforts are underway and so far 28 survivors have been found.

We remember in prayer those who have died and express our deepest sympathies to their families. “We deplore this loss of life,” remarked CEC General Secretary Revd Dr Guy Liagre, “and are deeply saddened by this tragedy on Europe’s doorstep.” We pray also for those involved in the demanding rescue and recovery mission.

This catastrophe reminds us of near daily instances across the Mediterranean in which Italian, Maltese, and Greek coast guards are largely left alone in rescue efforts. Reacting to this latest tragedy, and following so many others, WCC General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit called for “renewed solidarity and action, and for a resumption and strengthening of a collective European response.” We ask for meaningful European search and rescue efforts and call on EU Member States to contribute substantially and speedily to such efforts in order to prevent future loss of life among people driven to this desperate crossing.

Tveit added “These tragedies are strong calls for strengthening the efforts to address the root causes for poverty, social insecurity and conflicts in the countries from where the migrants are coming."

“Only legal and safe pathways into Europe would help to prevent these tragedies from happening. This includes increased refugee resettlement and lifting of visa requirements for people arriving from countries in conflict, like Syria and Eritrea. We need safe passages,” said Doris Peschke General Secretary CCME.

The (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches in Europe, including the Church of England. The CCME is the ecumenical agency on migration and integration, asylum and refugees, and against racism and discrimination in Europe. Members are Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant Churches and Councils of Churches.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Stop Slavery Dallas!

Local and international dimensions of the Church's ecumenical justice ministry came together at an event at St Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas on Saturday 18 April. St Michael's had been hosting meetings of the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome (ACR) and the American Friends of the ACR. Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Director of the ACR and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See, took a key role in the event which was a symposium on human trafficking. Archbishop David is well known to this diocese, of course, not only in Rome and Italy, but from his presentation to our Diocesan Synod last year.

Abp Moxon, 2nd from rt

Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis are committed to working together with other ecumenical and inter-faith partners to fight human trafficking and modern slavery. Archbishop Moxon in his role as Director of the ACR devotes a significant amount of his time to promoting this ecumenical initiative. It is estimated that around 38 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery which takes many forms from forced labour and prostitution to organ trafficking.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas and the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, together with St Michael's parish organised the symposium. Over 300 people came to participate and to hear Archbishop Moxon. With him on the panel were local leaders who are working on the issue of human trafficking/modern slavery, a human rights worker from local family services, the anti-trafficking coordinator from the police department, an immigration lawyer and a former US ambassador who has established an organisation to restore and empower formerly trafficked girls and women. It was an impressive coming together of perspectives from the global level and the commitment to activity at the local level.

I was able to have conversations with some young Episcopalian students who are organising within their own university on this issue and have convinced the authorities only to buy and sell clothing on campus, including the extensive range of official sportswear one finds in a US university, which is "slavery free". I encouraged them to link to the global movement to combat modern slavery which is supported by the ACR, to see if Anglican young adults in other places could take similar initiatives.



Monday, 13 April 2015

A Heidelberg to Rangoon connection

The Revd Dr Elizabeth Koepping
I discovered a while back, to my surprise, that the Revd Dr Elizabeth Koepping, the Priest-in-Charge of the English Church in Heidelberg, is a well known theological lecturer in one of my homelands, Burma (also known as Myanmar). Dr Koepping is a researcher in the field of global Christianity. Among her many publications is a magisterial four volume resource entitled Studies in World Christianity, which she edited

On a recent family visit to Rangoon, I was able to deliver a set of these volumes that Elizabeth had given as a gift to the Association for Theological Education in Myanmar. The Executive Secretary, the Revd Dr Lal Tin Hre was thrilled to know of this connection and was delighted with the gift from Elizabeth. Up-to-date theological reference books are scarce in his institute.

Dr Lal Tin Hre
During the family visit I was also able to have some conversations on ecumenical matters in particular with my friend the Archbishop of Yangon, the Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo. His Roman Catholic counterpart, Charles Maung Bo, was recently made a cardinal by Pope Francis. Archbishop Stephen is keen to support the work of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, (IARCCUM), of which I am the Anglican Co-Chairman.

Archbishop Stephen

Back again

I'm back.

I did not do too badly with my intended 2 months study leave. Since 18 February when I signed off I was able to have 38 days out of the 56 which were completely free from any diocesan or ecumenical activities or concerns. It was a gift: time to pray, to catch up on reading, and enjoy quality time with family and friends, especially some whom I do not see too often.

I am indebted to the Senior Staff of the Diocese who supported this time of leave and shouldered some extra work on my behalf. I thank Deacon Frances particularly who has been brilliant in keeping things moving which come to my desk, and for ensuring that I was not disturbed except in unavoidable circumstances.

So as I get back into the swing of things again, there will be a resumption of articles on this blog.