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, 29 July 2016

Church growth in Finland

Now here is a good pub-quiz question: What is the fastest growing religious group in Finland? Well, the answer is: the Church of England! According to Assistant Area Dean for Finland, the Revd Tuomas Mäkipää, our Anglican numbers in that country have grown over the past year by 20%. Our numbers are small to begin with, of course, compared to other religious groups, including our sister Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. But nevertheless, the graph is moving in the right direction.

But there is worrying news associated with this statistic: Much of this growth is as a result of continuing arrivals of refugees, including many from Sudan and South Sudan, many of whom are Anglican by tradition. Aid agencies warn that the upsurge of fighting in South Sudan will see the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of civilians worsening. The Finnish Government, working with the UN, continues to offer settlement to Sudanese/South Sudanese fleeing the violence and war.

As a consequence of this, the Revd Amos Manga, priest-in-charge of the White Nile Congregations, which are part of our Anglican Church in Finland finds his priestly work growing. Our Church is fully engaged in many parts of this Nordic country in providing care, a spiritual home and pastoral accompaniment to the new arrivals. Last Sunday in Helsinki Fr Amos presented several candidates for confirmation along with some from St Nicholas's Helsinki itself. The fellowship and joy in the congregation was infectious as the young people renewed their baptismal vows, were chrismated and received the Apostolic Rite of the laying on of hands. The service was in English, Arabic and Finnish. The priests assisting me were Finnish, Sudanese and Nigerian in origin. Yes, this is the Church of England!

Photos courtesy of Kaihsu Tai

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Message of condolence sent to the Archbishop of Rouen

Fr Jacques Hamel, RIP
Today, on hearing the news of the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in Rouen while he was saying Mass, I wrote this message of condolence to the Archbishop of Rouen, on behalf of Anglicans in this diocese. A quick English translation is at the bottom of the article.

May the Lord welcome his faithful servant Jacques into the fellowship of the saints in light.


26 de juillet de 2016

SE Monseigneur Dominique Lebrun
Archevêque de Rouen

Cher Monseigneur Lebrun

Nous venons d'entendre les nouvelles de l'assassinat du Père Jacques Hamel à Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Au nom du peuple et du clergé des congrégations de l'Église d'Angleterre en France, je vous envoie nos plus sincères condoléances à ce meurtre choquant.

Nous Anglicans se joignent à d'autres chrétiens pour exprimer notre solidarité et notre proximité avec les gens de votre diocèse face à cette attaque sanglante. Nous prions pour le Père Jacques, que le Seigneur le reçoive dans ses bras d'amour et qu’Il lui accorde le repos et la paix éternelle. Nous prions pour les fidèles de sa paroisse et de votre diocèse qui sont troublés et bouleversés par cet acte de violence qui a eu lieu au milieu de la célébration de la messe. Nous prions pour le peuple de France, qu'ils soient consolés par Dieu au cours de cette période d'insécurité, de la peur et de la violence.

Que le Saint-Esprit de la paix règne dans tous nos cœurs.

Encore une fois, je tiens à exprimer notre profonde tristesse et étendre l'assurance de notre communion dans la prière et l’amour dans le Christ.

Votre frère



A quick translation:

Dear Monsignor Lebrun

We just heard the news of the assassination of Father Jacques Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. On behalf of the people and clergy of the congregations of the Church of England in France, I send our deepest condolences on this shocking murder.

We Anglicans join other Christians in expressing our solidarity and closeness to the people in your diocese in the face of this brutal attack. We pray for Father Jacques, that the Lord may receive him into his arms of love and grant him eternal rest and peace. We pray for the faithful of his parish and of your diocese who are troubled and shocked by this act of violence that took place in the middle of the celebration of the Mass. We pray for the people of France, that they may be comforted by God during this period of insecurity, fear and violence.

May the Holy Spirit of peace in our hearts.

Again, I express our deep sorrow and extend the assurance of our communion in prayer and love in Christ.

Your brother


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Message of condolence to the Church of the Ascension, Munich

Fr Steven Smith
Today I sent the message below to the Revd Steven Smith, the Rector of the Church of the Ascension in Munich. His parish, while Anglican, is part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, under their Bishop Pierre Whalon. Church of England and Episcopal congregations in Germany have a common life in what is rather like a joint deanery - the CAECG, the Council of Anglican-Episcopal Churches in Germany.

Please pray for our sisters and brothers in Munich and for Fr Steven and his community in Munich


Dear Father Steven

Yesterday across this Diocese in Europe people learned with horror and disbelief that the inhabitants of yet another European city were under attack, this time in the city you serve, Munich.

May I, on behalf of your brother and sister Anglicans from the Church of England congregations on the continent, express our deep sorrow at these recent killings of at least 9 persons. This Sunday in our services we will pray for the victims and for all who have been injured, and for all who mourn the death of their loved ones and friends. We pray that God will strengthen all who serve and minister to those affected, including you and your colleague priests and pastors in Munich.  We pray for the German authorities as they continue their investigation and for faith communities that they may draw together and not apart as a result of this atrocity.

May God's loving mercy embrace all who have died, and His comfort be felt by the injured and bereaved. And may God’s support and care be with all of you at this tragic time.

Barmherziger Herr, alle Völker sind das Werk Deiner Hände: Wende sie ab von Hass und aller Schlechtigkeit, wende sie stattdessen Dir zu, damit sie Deine Liebe erkennen. 

Your brother in Christ

Emmauskirche - the home of the Church of the Ascension, Munich

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Turkey: Attempted coup has failed but the aftermath is not over

"The attempted coup has failed but the aftermath is not over". This statement from contacts in Turkey seems to summarise the situation today after a night of upheaval, violence, gunfire, explosions and political and military action. The attempted coup was bloody. A couple of hundred people killed and over 1,000 injured, military and civilians.

I was in contact with our clergy in Turkey late into Friday night. They are all safe and there are no reports of casualties from among our parishioners. But all are keeping vigilant.

We pray for wisdom for the authorities and for understanding, restraint and a way forward that is just and serves the good of all the citizens of the country.

Grant O God your help to the people of Turkey. May there be justice and peace throughout the land. May those who rule and govern make wise decisions for the well-being of the country, protecting the rights of all and breaking down walls of hatred and distrust. Give eternal rest to those killed in the violence and grant safety and security to all. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Our prayers for the people of Nice

The Revd Peter Jackson

This morning the city of Nice and the nation of France is in mourning, once again, this time for the victims of the horrific attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

The Promenade is just a couple of hundred metres from our Church of the Holy Trinity. I spoke to the Revd Peter Jackson, the Chaplain this morning. Like so many, Fr Peter is in shock at these events. Last night he was enjoying the national festival, and attended a reception with the Mayor and Prefet, a warm family occasion. At the reception, ironically, honour and tribute was being paid to the those who work for the emergency services in the city. On return to the presbytery, he learned of the attacks close by. One Churchwarden narrowly escaped injury.

Fr Peter reflected with me on the disconcerting feelings he has, since as a priest he was working in Washington DC at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and was working in London at the time of two tragic Tube bombings. There are certain to be many in our community who will be personally affected by this tragedy, and we pray for Fr Peter and all who minister and care for the survivors.

In the Churchyard of Holy Trinity Nice is buried Henry F. Lyte, the author of the loved hymn "Abide with me". In his words:
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. 
God of infinite mercy, we pray for the victims of the Nice attack. Remember them according to the favour you bear for your people. Comfort those who mourn and give strength to the injured. Deliver those whose hearts are hardened by hatred. Grant to us all your understanding, and your persevering love, for your mercy's sake. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ecumenical hospitality offered by Bishop of Tenerife is central to our Anglican life in his diocese

During a recent visit I made to see the Bishop of Tenerife, Don Bernardo Álvarez Afonso, he affirmed his welcome to Anglicans on the islands in his diocese (Tenerife, La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera). In our Parish of St Francis in the south of Tenerife, we borrow Roman Catholic Churches for our eucharists as we do in the Anglican Church in La Palma.

It was good to be able to thank Don Bernardo for his ecumenical hospitality. Together we reflected on the results of the referendum on EU membership which was held in the UK and looked at common challenges - reaching youth with the joyful message of the Gospel and helping our priests relate effectively to people who are seeking spiritual nourishment in an increasingly secular Europe.

Don Bernardo is looking forward to meeting the new priest--in-charge of St Francis, Tenerife South, when he arrives, and also to meeting whoever is appointed in due course as Chaplain of All Saints, Puerto de la Cruz, (The latter parish is still in vacancy). He already has met the Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol, the priest-in-charge in La Palma.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Canary Islanders reach out in solidarity to Sahrawi refugee children

On my journeys last weekend I was reading with disappointment the report from Labour Peer Lord Dubs that not a single child refugee promised sanctuary in the UK has arrived since the scheme was set up last May. Lord Dubs was himself an escapee from Nazi Germany thanks to the Kindertransport programme. But my heart was then warmed through a chance encounter with a marvellous programme for refugee children run by charities and the local Canary Island government.

I wondered who the rather excited and noisy youngsters were on my plane coming into La Palma from Tenerife North on Saturday. It turned out that the children were from refugee camps near Tindouf in SW Algeria. I must admit that I was not aware that there are 165,000 refugees, “Sahrawi” people, who have been living in these camps for 40 years! The camps are in a very inhospitable region of the world; the summer temperature rises to more than 50 degrees. The landscape is nothing but sand.

Each year, children from the camps are brought to stay with Spanish families for about two months, July and August, to given them a chance to enjoy a fresher climate, the sea, and to receive medical and nutritional care, as well as to build friendships and cultural links for them beyond their refugee camp existence. The programme is called Vacaciones en Paz (holidays in peace). The love and solidarity shown by ordinary Canarian families was deeply moving.

Our parish priest on La Palma, the Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol, will be looking into possibilities for our Anglican community to assist with this programme in some way.

Refugee Camp in Tindouf, Algeria. Photo by Jørn Sund-Henriksen, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 11 July 2016

First confirmations in new parish of La Palma - with an ecumenical flavour

One of the newest parishes in the Diocese in Europe is the Anglican Church in La Palma, a pastoral charge in our growing Archdeaconry of Gibraltar. The Revd Jennifer Elliott de Riverol is the parish priest.

On this island (in the Canaries) services are now held each Sunday, enabled by the outstanding hospitality offered by the Roman Catholic Church. Our services are held in three different Roman Catholic Churches or chapels: twice each month in San Martín de Porres, El Paso, and once a month in Nuestra Señora de Bonanza, also in El Paso, and in the Hospital Chapel near Santa Cruz. (Surely, Nuestra Señora de Bonanza is the best name anywhere in the Anglican world for one of our churches!)

San Martín de Porres
The Hospital Chapel
Nuestra Señora de Bonanza
Last Sunday was a special celebration: the first confirmations since the parish was formed. The liturgy was in the delightful San Martín de Porres, located on a hill-top surrounded by pine forest.

It was an ecumenical occasion too. My chaplain for the eucharist was a young RC seminarian, Francisco, who was back home on the island during the break from his studies in Málaga. One of the local priests, Fr Bernabé, rushed to join us for the refreshments after his own celebrations were finished. The congregation included Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

Jennifer gives priority to nurturing and deepening the ecumenical relations on the island. Thanks to her work there is a growing understanding of the Anglican tradition among her Roman Catholic colleagues. Thus in this parish on the westernmost fringe of our diocese, our ecumenical commitment is being lived out in dialogue and friendship with our Roman Catholic hosts.

Marian (RC friend of the parish), Parish Priest Jennifer, Fr Bernabé, and Seminarian Francisco
Friends from the "mother parish" of All Saints Tenerife flew in for the occasion, marking the close links and support from the community out of which the Anglican Church in La Palma grew.

A Palmarian Festive Lunch!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Worthy! Panta axia! The shout of the congregation when Deacon Christine Rosamund Saccali is ordained in Athens

Under some shade in the patio of St Paul's Church in Athens, where the temperature was in the mid-30s, the solemn declarations and oaths required of those entering Holy Orders were taken by Christine Saccali on Sunday 3 July, the day of her ordination to the diaconate. Archdeacon of the East, the Venerable Colin Williams, was on hand to witness to these legal preliminaries to the ordination rite itself.

The lessons at the ordination service were read by parish Reader Sherri and British Ambassador to Greece, HE John Kittmer. Deacon Frances Hiller, my chaplain, was the preacher for the occasion and the deacon of the mass, a most appropriate role as Frances, like Christine, was a Reader before her calling to the distinctive diaconate became clear.

The heart of the ordination liturgy is the laying on of hands with prayer. But just before this moment the ordinand lies prostrate before the altar. Prostration is an ancient biblical sign of humility, attested to in the Book of Deuteronomy, signifying that the ordinand is completely dependent upon God, as the ordinal says “you cannot bear the weight of this calling in your own strength, but only by the grace and power of God”. During the prostration the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus and the litany are sung, in which the community invokes the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit on the ordinand.

The congregation of the packed church proclaimed Πάντα άξια! (Panta axia) when the newly ordained Deacon Christine Rosamund Saccali, vested in dalmatic, the traditional vestment of her order, was presented to the people. This traditional cry "worthy!" was just one of many expressions of exuberant joy on Christine's ordination day.

Ecumenical guests from the Salvation Army, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church joined parishioners and family and friends of Deacon Christine. Diocesan colleagues from the Canary Islands, Varese, Madrid, Belgrade and Crete flew in for the occasion. Archdeacon of the East Colin Williams and Director of Ordinands Canon William Gulliford presented Christine and her tutor, the Revd Charles Read, represented the Eastern Regional Training Course in Cambridge where Christine did her pre-ordination studies.

Deacon Christine will serve as assistant curate in the Greater Athens Chaplaincy, under the supervision of the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw MBE, the Senior Chaplain.