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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Faith, hospitality and service to the needy: central to the life of Anglicans on the Costa del Sol

Anglicans continue to grow in faith and commitment on the Costa del Sol. On 30th October, the parish of Costa del Sol East hosted a joint confirmation service for their parish and the neighbouring parish of Costa del Sol West. It was an All Saints Day celebration and was held at St Andrew's Church in Fuengirola. 6 persons were confirmed that day.

The Revds Adrian Low (left) and Alaric Lewis
I was assisted by the priests of the two parishes, Fr Alaric Lewis (Costa del Sol East) and Fr Adrian Low (Costa del Sol West), as well as by Reader Caroline MacFarlane, also from the East. During the service two of the confirmands gave moving testimonies as to why they were taking this step in their Christian lives, to become active disciples of our Lord. The faith of all the candidates was inspiring.

Hospitality is a large element in the mission strategy of St Andrew's, Costa del Sol East. It seemed natural that following the Confirmation the Church was converted into a banquet hall for those attending.

The parish has a clear statement of its vision to be a welcoming spiritual home for English-speakers on the coast:
"As members of the Church of England, we seek first and foremost to offer praise to God through Jesus Christ, and fulfil Christ's commands to love one another, especially the poor. We have a vibrant worship life, and and are quite proud that we offer opportunities to praise God nine to ten times each week. Our services are rich and varied, and encompass the diversity that makes the Church of England so appealing. Whether one feels at home with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, or whether more contemporary praise is more to one's liking, Saint Andrew's offers something for everyone.
We are mindful that not all of our worshippers are Anglicans, and so we strive to make sure that Christians of all denominations find a warm welcome and a message based on the Gospels."
That warm welcome appears to be working. A letter from a recent visitor, far from her home, was published in the recent parish newsletter, in which she said:
"One of the curiosities of Christian hospitality is that we have to accept people as they come.... At St. Andrew's, I was loved for who I am. I was not told to stop waving my arms around when I talk, or ignored because of my endless questions. I was accepted as a person, And when I arrived in Canada (in a snow storm), I felt nurtured and accepted by the Christian hospitality at St. Andrew's, Los Boliches, Costa del Sol, sunny Spain." 
It is good to know that a parish vision at times seems to deliver! Well done, St Andrew's.

Although the service was in the Costa del Sol East parish, many parishioners from the West parish came to support their sisters and brothers being confirmed. Among those visiting was Paul Carr, a member of Costa del Sol West. who was just about to leave for another period in Greece helping to care for the refugees there, with a charity, "Collective Calling" which he founded. Here is a brief interview about his work, which is rooted in his Christian commitment:

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