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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Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw MBE

Warm congratulations go to Fr Malcolm Bradshaw, the Senior Chaplain in Athens, who has been honoured with an MBE in the New Year's Honours List. It is a most fitting award recognising Fr Malcolm's outstanding achievements and extraordinary service particularly during this time of financial hardship facing the Greek people and the huge numbers of refugees arriving in Greece and transiting through the country. Fr Malcolm has been instrumental in bringing together Churches and other groups to work together to address these challenges.

When I spoke to him on the telephone to congratulate him, Fr Malcolm said, humbly, "but none of this could have been achieved without the collaboration and cooperation of others". That is true, of course, but it was Malcolm's drive, passion and vision that harnessed this collaboration. For that, this honour is most fitting.

The members of the diocese as well as ecumenical partners I am sure will join me in sending our congratulations to Malcolm and expressing our joy at this recognition by HM Government.

The official citation reads:
Rev Canon Malcolm McNeille BRADSHAW
Senior Chaplain, Anglican Church in Greece. For services to interfaith understanding and community charities in Greece

Thursday, 24 December 2015

A happy and peaceful Christmas to all

I find this particular icon of the nativity to be both moving and comforting.

Of course there are the angels, the shepherds on the top right, the Magi to the left. But it is the Virgin Mary who is unusual in this icon. She is looking not at her Child, (who is wrapped in burial clothes, prefiguring his sacrifice), but at St Joseph on the bottom left. Joseph is wrestling with his doubts about the significance of all this; he is goaded on by the devil who encourages his doubt.

People through the ages have found the Incarnation, the mystery that God became human which we celebrate in this Feast of Christmas, to be beyond reason and for many it is a doctrine too difficult to accept. Hence the presence of the midwives on the bottom right to affirm that Our Lord was truly born as a human being into this world; he needed washing, as any human baby would.  

So this icon is for us.The Blessed Mother looks on St Joseph, as the Church looks on us, with understanding and patience, and invites us, in love, to believe.

The 14th century carol puts it thus:

"Joseph, Dearest Joseph mine,
Help me cradle the Child divine.
God reward thee and all that’s thine,
In paradise," so prays the mother Mary.
"Gladly, dear one, lady mine,
Help I cradle this child of thine;
God's own light on us both shall shine
In paradise, As prays the mother Mary."
 Happy Christmas to all readers of Eurobishop!

Staff are beginning to unwind

Some shots from the staff Christmas lunch...

It is a very hard working team and there is rarely a chance to sit back and relax. The lunch was one such occasion. It was also a chance to say farewell to Vela (top right in red) who has been working with Bishop Robert.

At the Diocesan Office Secret Santa exchange, this year's prize for the most apt gift goes to Ian Carter's secret gift giver. Ian is our Safeguarding Manager, dealing, among other things, with criminal records bureaus around the world.

Churches in Athens coming together for joint action and for prayer

In the evening of Saturday 19 December representatives of the newly formed ‘Churches Together in Athens’ held a  Prayer Vigil in the remains of an ancient Athenian church situated in the centre of the library of the Archbishop of Athens.

‘Churches Together in Athens’ has grown out of a need to come together to address the refugee crisis. Monthly meetings are held for the purpose of passing on information as the crisis manifests itself, sharing resources, providing mutual support and the coordination of our various programmes so that they are effective and free of duplication.

A wide spectrum of Churches are represented stretching from the Greek Evangelical Church supported by the Evangelical Alliance of the USA, through to the Salvation Army, the German Evangelical Church, the Church of Sweden, the Anglican Church, the Jesuit Society for Refugees, the Society of Pope John XXIII, the Greek Orthodox Church and several Christian NGO’s focused on refugee work.

Such a level of co-operation between Churches in Greece has not been common in the past. Even less common have been gatherings to pray together. ‘Churches Together In Athens’ are most grateful to the Greek Orthodox Church for the hospitality it extended and its participation in the Vigil. The Vigil was focused on the refugee crisis and took the form of silences interjected with short Biblical readings, occasional chants, prayers from various traditions, extemporary prayer and stories, some bitter, arising from the crisis.

This prayer gathering was truly a significant moment in ecumenical history in Greece, and one which our own Anglican Church of St Paul has played a key role.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A bishop can be flexible when it comes to millinery

Just to prove that I do not always wear the same hat...

Father Emmanuel Nazir is a priest who was received into the Church of England by me two years ago (pictured at his reception above). He is now in the final stage of Anglican formation in Westcott House, Cambridge. He and his wife Fauzia come originally from Lahore, Pakistan. They invited me for a festive Pakistani pre-Christmas meal, to have a chance to visit and catch up and learn of their adventures as they adapt to life in the Church of England. Oh, and to try on a different hat...

Thursday, 17 December 2015

St Francis Tenerife South - active in ecumenical outreach

The rucksacks for the homeless are blessed
Many people think of Tenerife simply as a destination for holidays, enjoying sunshine, and sitting back and relaxing. While this is true for many, our parish of St Francis, Tenerife South, is also a place for active Christian outreach in collaboration with our ecumenical partners.

Churchwarden Barry Bott recently updated me on the joint carol service held with the Roman Catholic parish of San Blas. At that time, rucksacks, purchased and filled by the Anglican and Roman Catholic congregations were presented and will be distributed to homeless persons on the island. In each Rucksack contains basic supplies and food.

Another project is the supplying toys as gifts for distribution in a home for handicapped children, and among poorer families in Santiago del Teide.

This outreach and ecumenical collaboration is in addition, of course, to the full schedule of services in three centres in the parish. At present the parish is in vacancy and an advertisement for a new priest will be made in January with interviews on 18 March. This is an exciting parish for a priest looking for active ministry, joyful eucharistically-centred worship, a collaborative team of ordained and lay, rich ecumenical relations - as well as the natural beauty and culture of this island.

Toys for the home for handicapped children

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A packed St Paul's Cathedral for Sankta Lucia

Photo: St Paul's Cathedral Facebook
On 13 December 304 a young Christian woman called Lucia was martyred in Syracuse, Sicily. She refused to marry a pagan nobleman and make sacrifices to the emperor Diocletian. The spurned prospective groom reported her to the authorities. She was killed in a horrid death which included the gouging out of her eyes, which were held to be particularly beautiful.

According to the Julian calendar used in Sweden until 1753, the night between the 12th and the 13th of December was Midwinter, the longest night of the year, when it was thought that extra protection was needed from the darkness of the world. As St Lucy's or Santa Lucia's name and story reached Sweden, it took deep roots in the culture of the land and her her feast on 13 December is celebrated as a powerful symbol of the light of the world, that "light which shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (St John 1.5).

Each year in London, the Swedish community celebrates Sankta Lucia. I am always invited to participate by Fr Michael Persson, the Dean and Rector of the Swedish Church in London and a close friend. It is a warm sign of our close links through the Porvoo Communion. Last night's noving celebration was in St Paul's Cathedral, with over 2000 in attendance. Other clergy, besides the Dean and members of the Chapter of St Paul's, included the priest of the Latvian Church, the Revd  Eliza Zikmane, the priest of the Norwegian Church, the Revd Torbjørn Holt, and the Revd Clare Dowding, rector of St Paul's North Marylebone.

Dean Michael Persson, Dean David Ison, the Revds  Eliza Zikmane, Clare Dowding and Torbjørn Holt
St Lucy's celebration is a time to pray for light in darkness, for hope this winter for all who need that light, especially all refugees and victims of war.
God our redeemer, who gave light to the world that was in darkness by the healing power of the Saviour's cross: shed that light on us, we pray, that with your martyr Lucy we may, by the purity of our lives, reflect the light of Christ and, by the merits of his passion, come to the light of everlasting life.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Old Master raises £550,000 for work with refugees in our diocese

Julia by Joseph Wright. Photo Credit: Sotheby's
I reported a little while back about a remarkable gift of a painting, Julia, by Joseph Wright, which has been given to United Society (formerly USPG) for auction at Sotheby's with the proceeds to go towards the United Society's support for the work with refugees in this Diocese, particularly in Greece. The Old Master was predicted to sell at auction for £100,000 to £150,000.

Well I have just heard from the United Society last night of the staggering success of the auction. The painting sold for £665,000. Once commission and the buyer’s premium have been deducted, around £550,000 will be realised and applied to the refugee appeal! The auction took a mere 2 minutes and 7 seconds, according to Janette O’Neill, the General Secretary and CEO of United Society.

This now means that we are in a position to prepare better for a longer-term strategic response to this crisis, which will continue for some years. 

Janette summed up our response in these words which echoes our gratitude for this extraordinary gift: "We give heartfelt thanks to the vision and compassion of the donor and his family, cheerful thanks to the purchaser, and pray for the wisdom and creativity to bring about good outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people on this globe".

The United Society appeal for refugees in Europe is here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Young faith celebrated in this ancient University city

Every Sunday, an English-speaking community in the heart of the ancient university city of Heidelberg meets for worship and fellowship. It is called the "English Church in Heidelberg", perhaps best understood as a home for English-speaking Christians (and those who choose to worship in English) rather than a place for the English. It is  part of our Diocese in Europe, but is home to people from dozens of nations - including a growing number of students from around the world.

The first Anglican services in the city can be dated back to 1613 and were held in Heidelberg Castle! In fact, John Donne, the poet-priest, once preached here. In 1971 the services which had been suspended since the outbreak of World War I, were restarted. Now, almost 45 years later, the congregation is growing and developing.

Two younger members were confirmed last Sunday, providing a joyous occasion for the parish to celebrate and to be reminded of their own calling as friends of Jesus, each day to bear his light in a darkened world.

The parish priest is the Revd Dr Elizabeth Koepping, who is ably assisted by the Reader, Dr Rosemary Selle. The website of the Church is here.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Notre Dame de Paris filled with people praying for the future of creation

Thousands gathered last Thursday evening 4 December in the 850 year old Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. They were Christians, pilgrims and many others who were engaged in the Climate Summit in Paris, and those who simply wished to part of this ecumenical prayer service for the future of our planet.

The service was organised by the Council of Churches of France and the three Co-Presidents, Pasteur François Clavairoly (Protestant), Metropolitan Emmanuel (Orthodox) and Archbishop Georges Pontier (RC) led major parts of the service. The welcome was given by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris. When he invited the assembly to share a sign of peace, the Cathedral was filled with voices of many nations greeting each other as one family.

Over 50 church leaders from around the world joined in the procession, including 6 Anglican bishops. Several Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church were present, a good representation of Orthodox bishops and others from Lutheran and Protestant Churches. The Archbishop of Uppsala, Antje Jackelén, read the Gospel in English.

Anglican Bishops Marc Andrus (California), Nick Holtam (Salisbury), Hamid, Fred Hiltz (Archbishop and Primate of Canada), Pierre Whalon (Convocation of TEC in Europe), John Stroyan (Warwick), with Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel
The liturgy was a rich service of psalmody, prayer and music, including choirs from Notre Dame, the Orthodox Church and a Malgache Protestant choir. The homily by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was read by Metropolitan Emmanuel. Unfortunately, the Patriarch had to cancel his attendance at the last moment. In his message, the 'Green Patriarch' underlined the need for conversion of hearts if we are to preserve our creation, stressing that Christians are called to lead in this as we are called to be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

Malgache Choir
A colourful procession of signs of creation was a highlight. Young people from around the world carried olive oil, a piece of pottery, cotton and flax, a musical instrument and a boat. At the end of this procession a large blue globe was brought forward as these words were read: "We are aware that creation is a gift entrusted to us and that we are responsible to future generations for the whole Earth."

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Patronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I

30 November, the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle, is a great celebration in the Patriarchate of Constantinople. His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is considered to be the successor to St Andrew himself, and St Andrew's Day is celebrated as the patronal festival of the See.

It was a privilege to be present for this patronal liturgy once again and to be close to the successor of the Apostle. My stall in Gibraltar Cathedral is that of St Andrew. And I am Scottish by birth! Liturgy at the Patriarchate is never hurried. This one was over 4 hours. Many young persons from the small remaining Greek speaking community were in attendance, and clearly have great affection for His All Holiness.

At the conclusion of the liturgy, His All Holiness exchanged formal greetings with the representative of Pope Francis, Cardinal Kurt Koch. The Cardinal read a message from the Pope. Patriarch Bartholomew spoke of the need to restore full unity between the Churches in a world torn apart by hatred and much turmoil. It was moving to hear such warm fraternal messages from the successors of the two Galilean fishermen brothers, St Andrew and St Peter, whose teaching and whose martyrdom were foundational for the Church.

Fr Engin Yildirim, the priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection in Istanbul also attended the Divine Liturgy.

Fr Engin with Bps Edward Holland, Geoffrey Rowell and Robin Smith