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Friday, 26 June 2015

St Ursula's Berne squeezes in double the usual capacity for a service of Baptism and Confirmation

Anglican worship in Berne, the Swiss capital, dates back to about 1832. The present church building St Ursula's was built in 1906. It holds 100 comfortably, but on Sunday 21 June, over 200 squeezed in (and spilt outside) for a festive service of Christian initiation. It certainly does not feel like the Church of England in Europe is on the decline!

Candidates for Holy Baptism an Confirmation from Berne were joined by others from Christ Church Lausanne and the Anglican Church in Neuchâtel.

The chaplain of St Ursula's is the Venerable Peter Potter, who is also the Archdeacon of Switzerland and Acting Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe. He is assisted by the Revd Linda Bissig. The Revd Adele Kelham accompanied her candidates from her two Churches in Lausanne and Neuchâtel.

A moving part of the confirmation rite itself was when each sponsor presented their candidate to me, mentioning a couple of biographical details. It is humbling to take part of the lives of such interesting and beautiful people!

As is typical of our parishes in Europe, the candidates came from backgrounds in 4 continents. I had great conversations with people from Kenya, Nairobi, Zimbabwe, Iran, Sri Lanka, the USA, and Canada, not to mention Switzerland.

St Ursula's clearly enjoys their fellowship meals. Groups of families and friends gathered for a multicultural feast in the gardens around the church as well as in the parish hall.

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