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.

For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

An ecumenical Christmas service in Venice

On Christmas morning, the Italian State Television Channel RAI 2, broadcast a pre-recorded ecumenical service from Venice. Held in the German Lutheran Church, representatives from the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Waldensian, German Lutheran, Anglican, Adventist and Baptist Churches all made contributions. The music was varied ranging from Byzantine and Gregorian chant, to a songs by a Gospel choir and carols in Latin. German and Italian were the languages of the service. The Patriarch of Venice was one among others who provided brief reflections on the feast whilst children distributed candles lit at the close of the service.

It was a substantial ecumenical congregation which gathered, with limited standing room only at the beginning of the service. The picture above shows the Gospel choir standing to the side of the sanctuary in the Lutheran church.   

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw, the Chaplain of St George's Venice, who was of course present for the service, commented, "For such a wide grouping of Churches to feel at home in each other’s company and together deliver such an act of worship and to go public on it was a rich experience. I hope that perhaps the same can be done next year and following years as part of our bonding together."

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Happy Christmas to Eurobishop readers

We live in a time of tribulation for so many of our world's inhabitants who face persecution and suffering. What has broken my own heart this year has been the plight of the Rohingya people from my beloved Burma. But killing, war, destruction and extreme impoverishment continue in so many other places too, driving many to search for peace, security and basic human dignity here in Europe. We must not forget that the UN still considers Syria to be the locus of the world's greatest humanitarian crisis at present.

And now, in the land of the birth of Our Saviour, new tensions increase around the place of Jerusalem, the Holy City for Jews, Muslims and Christians, under a new threat of disturbance to the longstanding status quo consensus which is in place, pending the negotiation of a lasting and inclusive peace for all its peoples. 

But Christians believe that the birth of God's Son heralds a new way of living, a new love for all people, a solidarity with the meek and the poor, and a promise of joy and peace. This is summed up in the words of the great hymn writer and teacher of the faith, fittingly, from the heart of the Middle East, St Ephrem of Syria  (+373). 

This is the day on which the Saviour of the earth, the Light of the world, shone forth. On this day the Saviour of Israel came down from the pinnacle of heaven to set free all those whom the ancient enemy held captive by reason of Adam’s fault; he came down so that blind souls might have light and deaf souls might hear. The mountains and hills leap for joy, the very foundations of the world break into song, thrilled by the great mystery of his incarnation and all the good it has brought.
For our part, let us humbly entreat our Redeemer to show us his love and mercy. May our souls, begrimed by sin, be cleansed by heartfelt contrition, so that his light may shine gloriously in and about us, and the bliss of salvation be ours to enjoy for ever.
May all readers of Eurobishop find peace and joy this Christmastide!

Staff in London thank colleagues at the National Institutions at Church House

In the days before Christmas, the staff of the London office expressed their thanks to the many colleagues who work for the National Institutions based in Church House, on whose daily support and collaborative work we rely, in order to serve the people of this Diocese in Europe. This ranges from those who clean our offices to those who handle complex legal matters within the wider Church of England.

One of the latter is Mr Sion Hughes Carew, the Administrative Secretary to the Legal Office of the Church of England, who processes our requests for the Archbishop of Canterbury's Permission to Officiate, a legal preliminary for those clergy ordained outside the Anglican Provinces in Britain and Ireland, who wish to minister in our Diocese which is part of the Province of Canterbury. In the picture above, Mrs Emma Biaggi, Locum Clergy Administrator, and Deacon Frances Hiller, my Chaplain, who have much to do with Sion, present him with a small thank you gift.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The traditional Nine Lessons and Carols can lead to many things...

The Revd Roger Smith at St-Hippolyte Church
When Bishop Edward Benson first devised the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols back in 1880 he likely did not know how how that service would spread globally, and not within the English-speaking world. In this Diocese in Europe it continues to be an annual way to reach out to the community of both English speakers and local national residents in a given country, and uniquely brings them together in great numbers for this service of prayers, carols and readings. 

For instance, in one of our newer "parishes", the Church of All Saints, Hérault, in southern France, recently about 400 people filled the ancient 13th century Church of Saint-Hippolyte in the village of Fontès. In the service led by our priest in All Saints, the Revd Roger Smith, the traditional readings  were given in both French and English. The local Maïre was on hand to greet the assembly, marking this out as a significant gathering in this locality.  The customary festive English fare of mince pies served with the delicious local wine, concluded the service.

People from the region arriving early to get a good seat at the Carol Service
But here is an interesting fact to add to Church of England mission strategy: The present flourishing All Saints Chaplaincy in Hérault can actually trace its origin, not to any particularly new technique or programme, but to the first such traditional carol service in the region back in 2001! Now the parish continues to grow in age groups and national background, celebrating the Eucharist regularly and with periodic services of Confirmation. It is engaged in outreach to the community, notably in support to Syrian refugees through a local group, the Languedoc Solidarity with Refugees. And it has a reader in training and a postulant for Holy Orders!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Diocesan Lay Ministers gather for retreat

Twice a year residential training events are held for our Diocesan Readers and Readers in Training. One such gathering has just finished. It had a more reflective and prayerful emphasis, as one of our trainee Readers, Simon Yallop, from St Mary’s Church, Twente writes in this report:

"In the first weekend of December 2017 a group of fourteen Readers and Readers in Training, under the very capable leadership of the Revd Canon Elaine Labourel, came together at St. Columba’s House in Woking for a retreat. The theme was ‘Listening to God’. With the help of a number of spiritual exercises we all heard God speaking ‘loud and clear’. 

It was a wonderful time of worship and fellowship, with a chance to catch up with news from fellow Readers. During the Retreat we were introduced to ‘Godly play’ by Reader Celia Patterson (St George’s Madrid). The carefully played out stories of Jonah and Samuel certainly helped us as we were invited to put ourselves into the story: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’. 

At the beginning of the weekend we read the story of the how the wise men followed the star. They did not know where it would take them, but they found themselves at the feet of the One they sought. We were each given a small wooden star to keep as a symbol that we would be led by the Holy Spirit to the Divine. We were not disappointed."

Canon Elaine Labourel, Director of Reader Ministry, adds, “It was truly a wonderful time being together and being with God. Quite amazing actually”. 

There are presently 101 Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers) in the diocese with another close to 40 in training. They are key leaders who, together with our priests, keep much of the worshipping and pastoral life of our over 300 congregations going!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Reader in Training in Venice writes thrillers

Philip Gwynne Jones is a Reader-in-Training at St George’s, Venice. After a career working in IT for the European Space Agency in Frascati, Italy, and following a stint with a Scottish bank during the global financial crisis, he dediced to return with his wife Caroline to Venice in search of a better and simpler future. ‘We were wrong about the “simpler bit”’, Philip wryly comments. Nevertheless, he is now established as a translator and teacher. Being Welsh he naturally has a love for music and so can be found singing bass with the Cantori Venezione and the Ensemble Vocale di Venzia.  During the lengthy inter-regnum at St George's he assisted greatly to keep the worship life going both in Venice and at Christ Church, Trieste.

But a new talent has come to light:  Philip has published his first novel – a gripping thriller called The Venetian Game. Full of contemporary local colour it portrays Venice as a city of secrets, shadows – and death. The story is built around a certain Nathan Sutherland, British Honorary Consul to Venice. Nathan’s life is steady and unexciting – a translator who helps tourists with such mundane things as lost passports and stolen purses. Things dramatically change when he is offered a large sum of money to look after a small package containing a prayer book illustrated by the Venetian master Giovanni Bellini…. For the rest of the story you will need to buy a copy.

The writer and literary critic Gregory Dowling has said of The Venetian Game "A playful novel, recounted by a witty and engaging narrator ... as Venetian as a painting by Bellini (or a glass of Bellini). Oh, and it's also an unputdownabale thriller".

This is not Philip’s last novel. He will publish a second one next year and a third is in the planning stage, each one based on Venice. Here is a link to Philip's own website:

Friday, 8 December 2017

Report from 2017 CEMES Study Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

The CEMES pilgrims at the Holy Sepulchre
Dr Clare Amos, Director of Discipleship of the Diocese in Europe and a mentor for the CEMES* programme in the Diocese has submitted this moving report from the Holy Land pilgrimage


‘I found the peace of Galilee fantastic, but Jerusalem somehow made me feel closer to Christ, precisely because he came for reconciliation, and in Jerusalem you can see how much reconciliation is needed.’ 
‘We explored the multiple dimensions and many sides of stories, and we learned that nothing is as simple as it might seem. Perhaps that was partly exemplified for me by the need to go through a metal detector before one could access some of the holy sites.’
‘I will never forget listening to Julius singing the Magnificat in the Church of St Anne and Ubi Caritas in the Crusader Church of Abu Ghosh.’
‘Somehow we experienced the joys and sorrows of ecumenism. In the Holy Sepulchre we witnessed several different Christian churches living together under one roof, but certainly they were not actively working for the unity of the Christian household.’
‘I came to understand something about holy places. Sometimes a site can be rather dubious historically, but be made holy by the prayers and experiences of the pilgrims who have visited it over the centuries.’
‘I find myself looking at the Bible in new and different ways.’
‘The messiness of the incarnation has become more real for me.’
‘The words of Patriarch Theophilos – that living and working in this land requires a willingness to participate in the divine kenosis – made a deep impression upon me.’
‘Our experiences in this land have made me reflect on the importance of human rights.’
These are some of the immediate comments made by the group of six CEMES interns from the Diocese in Europe who participated in a six day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, 23-29 November 2017, based in Jerusalem. The pilgrimage formed a key part of the year’s experience that the CEMES programme offers to young people who are actively thinking about the possibility of full time ministry in the church.

Dr Amos lecturing outside Jericho
Accompanied by some of the mentors on the scheme, as well as a few older friends, the young people had the opportunity to explore and reflect on several dimensions of what it may mean to call this land holy: the sites – most especially the Holy Sepulchre – which commemorate fundamental events in the life of Jesus Christ; the importance and difficulties of ongoing Christian presence in the land; the complicated and sometimes competitive interreligious dimensions; the political and social realities in Israel and Palestine today.

The Separation Wall at the foot of the Mount of Olives
The group was honoured to be received by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, as well as by Archbishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem. They participated in the Sunday Eucharist at St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem.  They were blessed with the adaptable welcome given to them by the community at St Peter in Gallicantu, their base in Jerusalem and were also grateful for the generous Sabbath evening hospitality shown to them by members of the Kol Ha-Neshema synagogue in West Jerusalem.

The Greek Chapel of Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Undergirded by common prayer and worship the pilgrimage also provided an opportunity for community building among the group of interns, who because of the special nature of the Diocese in Europe are quite widely spread. None of those who participated will forget the special quality of the two Eucharists they celebrated as a group – held in God’s love in front of the tranquillity of Dalmanutha by the Sea of Galilee, and the painful sweetness of preparing to depart from Jerusalem.

Fr William celebrates mass for the pilgrims at the chapel in Tabgha on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

The pilgrimage took place due to the vision and hard work of the Director of Ordinands for the Diocese in Europe, Rev Canon William Gulliford. ‘I know what impact the opportunity to visit Jerusalem as a young man made to me, and how it affected the path of my own ministry. I wanted these young people to have a similar privilege. It is an important way that the church can invest in the future, and I am really grateful to the trusts and organisations who generously gave grants to make this possible ’, said Fr William.

The CEMES interns
*CEMES = the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme. This national Church of England programme encourages young people under the age of 30 to take a year working in a parish or chaplaincy to explore whether they have a vocation to ordained or other forms of Christian ministry. This is the third year that the Diocese in Europe has participated in the scheme.  Currently in the Diocese in Europe interns are based in Bruges, Brussels, La Cote (near Geneva) Leuven, Lyon, and Vienna.

The Revd Canon William Gulliford, DDO

Monday, 4 December 2017

Church life evolving in Gran Canaria

Since the early part of the 19th century Anglicans have been worshipping together in Gran Canaria. The present fine Church of the Holy Trinity in Las Palmas was built as the community became larger and more settled, and celebrates 125 years this year. When founded the parish was in the Diocese of Sierra Leone!

A recent parish visit gave an the opportunity for me to discuss with members of the parish the budget proposals for 2018 and 2019 which have recently been communicated to our congregations by the Interim Diocesan Secretary, Mike Fegan. We were also able to share an update on matters to do with safeguarding as well as look at the opportunities for outreach to other areas of the island.

The historic centre of the parish is in Las Palmas where Holy Trinity Church is located in the North East of the island. (Other older institutions that served the English speaking population such as the British Club are also located here). Today, however, it is in the south of the island where tourism has rapidly developed and many people have settled there in recent years, either full-time or part -time. It is also in the south where many thousands of tourists come on shorter holidays. The challenge facing the parish then is how to reach these newer arrivals and visitors to the island from a historic base elsewhere.

Outreach to the south was started several years back and the present Chaplain, the Revd Canon Brian Stares, continues two weekly services in the southern centres of Playa del Inglés and Puerto de  Mogán.  Playa del Inglés is well known internationally as a LGBT-friendly resort and our Church services there seek to make sure that all are made welcome.

Even though the congregations are modest in size, the community is now very international. I met parishioners from such diverse places as Cuba, Spain, Ghana, Nigeria, England, Philippines and Colombia.

(Left to right) Padres Edward, Brian and Juan
Fr Brian is assisted by two other priests, one from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Fr Juan Sanchez Jr, and one from the Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal, Fr Edward Cuesta. Ecumenical relations are very warm on the island between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in particular. Some Guatemalan RC nuns I met after the mass in Playa del Inglés were very keen to let me know how much they value Fr Brian's priestly ministry.