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.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Pan Africa Day in St George's Madrid

Pan African Sunday, 30 September, at St George's Madrid included a service of confirmation, a Nigerian choir and an African feast after the mass. It was a day of exuberant joy. It felt like St George's was truly an place of international encounter for the many Christians in Madrid who speak English or who are from an Anglican background.

However, there was sad news for the chaplaincy that day. I had to announce that their beloved Chaplain, the Revd Canon Paul Ormrod, would be leaving. Fr Paul has been appointed to St John's Montreux and he and his wife Jill will be saying farewell to St George's at the end of December.

Book Sale at St George's
It has been such a fruitful time for the Ormrods in Madrid. He will leave behind a thriving multicultural community as was in evidence that Sunday. There is a vibrant Sunday School and three services each Sunday. The Church Council includes a good cross section of the parish, including some young adults. (I think possibly the youngest Churchwarden in the diocese serves St George's). There are numerous events which serve both the wider community in Madrid as well as bringing people to the Church and helping them make contact with this historic Anglican parish. Fr Paul has also been a key link to ecumenical partners in the city, especially the Roman Catholics. My pastoral visit coincided with one of the important outreach events in St George's, the Book Sale. Fr Paul also took me to visit the Misioneras de la Unidad, a Roman Catholic order in the city who run an ecumenical centre. There we met a young woman, Syrian Orthodox, who is a refugee from her home Syria, and heard her moving story.

The Archdeacon of Gibraltar will soon be beginning the to work with the parish in preparing the search for a new priest to build on the outstanding work of Fr Paul

Syrian refugee (left) at the Ecumenical Centre in Madrid

St George's ministry team includes Reader Celia Paterson, who is also an international leader in ministry with young people through her work on Godly Play. Celia serves on the board of Godly Play España and on the Godly Play International Council. Solomon Ike, originally from Nigeria, is a member of St George's now preparing for the Sacred Ministry.

Fr Paul, Solomon Ike, Celia Paterson in back row

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A recent Reader training workshop: "Total joy and inspiration"

Canon Elaine Labourel introduces the weekend workshop
Readers (Licensed Lay Ministers) and those in training for that ministry recently came together in Woking, England, for a workshop on the ministry of preaching. Organised by the Director of Reader Ministry, Canon Elaine Labourel, this workshop included some theological reflection on the doctrine of revelation, how God communicates divine truth to the human community, some principles of Anglican preaching, as well as practical guidance and skill enhancement in homiletics. The Revd Dale Hanson of St Mark's Versailles was a key resource person for the event. As Warden of Readers, I was also able to spend some hours with the participants.

Reader Angela Mirani (left) was the first Reader I admitted to this office back in 2003

These training events are very well supported by the Readers, and are generally oversubscribed! One participant thanked Canon Labourel for her encouraging leadership, "because of her, the reader workshops are always a total joy and inspiration".

Another participant, Simone Gallop has written a report on the event for the Diocesan website, in which she says,
"We were treated to excellent talks from Bishop David and Dale covering the theology behind preaching the Word as well as practical advice and tips on how to preach effectively. All this to help us to lead people to an encounter with the living Christ.
On the final day we were ‘put on the spot’. Each person was given a page of the newspaper. We were asked to pick a headline or an article. We were given 30 minutes to write a ‘four minute thought for the day’, which we were to present to the rest of the group. It was a fascinating exercise, intended to teach us to ‘think on our feet’. Everyone entered into the spirit of the event with enormous creativity. Elaine and Dale gave ‘honest’ but constructive comments on our efforts. It was a wonderful weekend with good friends, inspiring worship, excellent teaching, fellowship and fun. It was another very successful Reader workshop." 

A couple of short videos were made at the workshop, interviewing some of our Readers who speak about their ministry:

Monday, 15 October 2018

Led by Archbishop Rowan Williams, Anglicans attend the Canonisation of Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI

Pops Francis listens to the formal petition to canonise the seven new saints
Before a crowd of over 70,000 people, including Spain's former Queen Sophia, the Presidents of El Salvador, Panama, Chile and Italy, Pope Francis yesterday, 14 October, canonised 7 saints. Two will be well known to Anglicans: Archbishop Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI. I was privileged to be present as part of the delegation of Anglicans attending the canonisation, headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams. After the mass in St Peter's Square the Pope expressed warm words of gratitude for our presence.  

Archbishop Rowam is greeted by Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Bishop Brian Farrell
In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of Jesus inviting us to return to him, the source of joy, a courageous choice to risk everything to follow him. He reminded us of how St Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters. St Oscar Romero was shot and killed while celebrating mass on 24 March 1980, by a government sponsored death squad.
In my time as Mission Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Anglican Church of Canada during the years of the civil wars in El Salvador and other Central American countries, I made many visits to the region, most often in support of those seeking to defend the human rights of the poor and exploited, including many priests and pastors in El Salvador. I recall meeting so many who were inspired by Oscar Romero to continue the struggle for justice for the poor of the region. In the hearts of the people of  Latin America Romero was already considered a saint;  "San Oscar de las Américas" they acclaimed him, almost right after he was assassinated. On the occasion of his canonisation, for the poor of the Americas this is a moment of great joy to have his martydom officially recognised by the Church. I never imagined I would be present to witness this event.

With regard to St Paul VI, Anglicans will know that it is thanks to this Pope that we entered into formal dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. Following the historic visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in 1966 (at which the Pope gave the Archbishop his own episcopal ring) ARCIC was established: "a serious dialogue which, founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions, may lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed". Today we recognise that ARCIC has produced ground-breaking agreed statements on the Eucharist and Ministry which have received the highest level of reception by the Churches of the Anglican Communion.  ARCIC continues its work on theological issues, and now, because of the significant progress made, a complementary commission, IARCCUM, was established in 2001 "to  translate our manifest agreement in faith into common life and mission". We have much for which to thank Pope St Paul VI.

Photos courtesy of the Anglican Centre in Rome

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Work has begun on St John's Casablanca Development

Work has now begun on the Development Project of St John the Evangelist Parish in Casablanca.
Phase one, the contruction of a new facility for community development work especially educational space for children and adults is now under way. The contract with the builder was signed in September and digging and initial work has begun.

Canon Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of St John's, signing the contract

The contractor has generously donated a tent to serve as a temporary facility for activities that once had to happen in an old tent and an old shipping container, particularly children's Sunday school!

The temporary tent
The St John's Development project is supported by the Diocesan Board of Finance, by donations from a diocesan Advent appeal, from some trust funds dedicated to work in St John's and from the donations of parishioners and others. Even the children of the parish are busy raising funds through the sale of baked goods and craft items!

Donations continue to be very welcome to support this unique project. Please email the Diocesan Finance Officer for information on how to contribute:

Here is a short video on the total plan for the development of St John's. The first part of the video is actually Phase 2 but the community centre, Phase 1 is in the second part of the clip.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Table Talks - Anglicanism in Sicily

Community Dinner at St Alberto of Trapani, Randazzo
"Table Talks" was the title given to a programme involving 2 of our congregations in Sicily, St Alberto of Trapani in Randazzo and St George's Taormina. The purpose was to engage the members of the congregations in dialogue about being Anglican in Sicily, especially the challenge associated with being Italian-speaking or bilingual Italian-English Anglicans.

In the Diocese in Europe most of our liturgical and pastoral work is in English, with some exceptions where Anglicans from other parts of the world have brought their own language, such as French, Arabic, Tamil or Malgache. In many places occasioanl offices or pastoral rites such as baptism, confirmation or marriage might be celebrated in English as well as the national language (for example Spanish, German or Dutch) where there is a clear need. But regular liturgical and pastoral work in the national language has not been a routine part of our life, with only a couple of exceptions, in Turkey and Poland.

But now, in parts of Italy, including Sicily, there are communities of Anglicans who are exclusively Italian speaking. Table Talks was one initiative to explore how Anglican identity, lived in the Italian language can be supported and nurtured. It was a particular aspiration of the Table Talks to guide and encourage the ministry of the Italian priest serving in Randazzon, the Revd Giovanni La Rosa.

Four priests assisted as resource persons for these talks: Fr Kevin Morris of St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park and Fr Fabrizio Pesce of St Peter's Acton Green both from the Diocese of London; Fr Hugo Adán of St Matthew's, Elephant and Castle in the Diocese of Southwark; and Fr Russ Ruffino, a long-serving locum priest in this Diocese, currently covering the vacancy in Holy Cross, Palermo.

Fr Kevin spoke of how he revitalised his parish when he moved there through opening up the church and making it a welcoming place for the entire community, which proved to be key to parish growth and development. Fr Fabrizio spoke of his experience ministering to an Italian speaking, a Spanish speaking, as well as English language congregations in St Peter's. Fr Hugo, originally sponsored from this Diocese, now heads up what is the first completely bilingual parish (Spanish-English) in the Church of England. Their input, as well as that of Fr Russ, a priest from the USA born to Sicilian immigrants, was key to inspiring the thinking of the members of St Alberto's and St George's about ministry in Italy, and especially in Italian. In Taormina participants in our talks included the Revd Jutta Sperber, the German Evangelical Pastor who ministers to German Christians in Sicily, and the Revd Canon John Smith, the locum Chaplain at St George's.

"Table Talks" was a ground-breaking initiative, encouraging reflection by the communities involved on questions of Anglican identity, ministry in a minority context, ecumenical sensitivity and linguistic challenges.

Randazzo lies on the slopes of Mount Etna, only about 15 kilometres from the crater of one of Europe's most active volcanos. During an hour's free time when we visited one of the Roman Catholic Churches in the town we came upon a curious painting of a priest praying with parishioners for the protection of the town from the lava flow from an eruption. On close inspection the priest in the painting looked like our own Fr Russ!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Revd Canon Hugh Broad, sometime Area Dean, celebrates 50 years as a priest

Fr Hugh (rt) with Deacon Frances and Fr David Sutch
A former Area Dean in the diocese, the Revd Canon Hugh Broad, has just celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood. Friends and colleagues, including former Archdeacon of Gibraltar, the Ven. David Sutch and my Chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller, gathered last Saturday with Fr Hugh for a special anniversary mass in Gloucester Cathedral.

Of his 50 years as a priest, 10 were spent serving in this diocese, as Chaplain of Costa Almería and Costa Cálida, as Area Dean of Gibraltar (and convenor of the Archdeaconry Synod), as an Assistant Director of Ordinands. All in all a very fruitful and joyful ministry.

Fr Hugh reflected that he feels quite homesick for the diocese, "My decade in the Diocese in Europe meant a great deal to me and which I shall never forget." It will always be your home, Fr Hugh! Warm wishes on this significant anniversary.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Clare Amos: a vision of diversity may be lost through Brexit

Dr Clare Amos
The Director of Lay Discipleship in the Diocese in Europe, Dr Clare Amos, in an article written for  Anglican Communion News, reflects on the nature of the continent of Europe and the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. This is what she has written:


“The Diocese in Europe is like the Anglican Communion in miniature”. That was a perceptive remark made a few years ago by the chaplain to the Suffragan Bishop in Europe. It has a great deal of truth.

I have now been a member of a church in the Church of England Diocese in Europe for seven years, since I moved to a small town in France near Geneva in 2011 to work for the World Council of Churches. One of the things that I have noticed and appreciated is how much more diverse our congregation in Geneva has become over these years, both in terms of ethnicity and the geographical origins of people. And that is also true, I believe, for many other churches of the Diocese in Europe.

Yes, there are still people like myself who have travelled here from that part of the Church of England based on the off-shore island (England!) and find ourselves living as Anglicans in continental Europe. But we are increasingly outnumbered by people who have come to Geneva from many countries of Africa and Asia – not to mention America, Australasia, and indeed other parts of Europe.

Many gravitate to our church of Holy Trinity because they were Anglicans in their homeland: in other cases it is our style of worship that they appreciate and relate to. I do think that the church in Geneva – and indeed the diocese as a whole – needs to work through some of the implications of our increasing diversity in a way that we have not quite done so far. But such diversity is definitely something to be celebrated and built on.

This diversity is already reflected in a diocesan venture that I have been involved with in recent years. Like several other dioceses in the Church of England we have developed a programme for young people called CEMES – the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme. This offers those who are thinking seriously about full time church ministry the opportunity to spend nearly a year working as an intern in one of our churches in a structured way which includes also theological, educational, spiritual and personal reflection facilitated by a team of volunteer mentors.

The geography of the diocese means that because the interns are working with different churches in different countries it is important to bring all of them together from time to time during the year for some intensive learning and team-building.

Due to the vision and hard work of William Gulliford, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands who set up the scheme four years ago, we have found ourselves meeting together in Rome, Lyon, Brussels, Cologne and the Holy Land. The majority of the interns who join us are young people who originate from Britain, but others have come from North America, Africa and different parts of Europe. In turn they seem to appreciate the diversity of the contexts in which they find themselves.

Most of those who have participated in the scheme are now working towards ordination. As an educational mentor, I have wanted to ensure that the participants in the scheme reflect seriously on Anglican identity. In continental Europe what it means to choose to be an Anglican is an intentional question which takes on more weight that it has had in England until recently. For these purposes I have drawn on a document called the “Signposts statement on the Anglican Way” that I helped to develop while working at the Anglican Communion Office a decade ago as Director of Theological Studies.

“Signposts” frames Anglican identity as being:

Formed by Scripture

Shaped through Worship

Ordered for Communion

Directed by God’s Mission

It has been gratifying to realise how useful “Signposts” is in helping people to grapple succinctly with the ideal charisms of the Anglican Way: it deserves to be better known. Part of its vision is certainly of an Anglican tradition which gives space for diversity in unity.

Such holding together of diversity and unity is part of my own personal passion. It has informed my spiritual journey, and many of the steps of my working life. Like many, perhaps most, though probably not all, Anglicans living in the Diocese in Europe, I am deeply grieved at the likely developments over the next few months which will see the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

This may well have practical consequences for my own life, and indeed for the corporate life of the Diocese in Europe, although at this stage it is not exactly clear what these will be. But the primary reason for my grief is that by taking this step the United Kingdom seems to be turning its back on that vision of diversity in unity which is dear to my heart.

I know all too well that the European Union is far from perfect: I have lived in France for seven years! Yet I am also now aware in a way that is difficult to comprehend from a purely English perspective, how for the past 60 years what is now called the European Union has acted as a bulwark against the wars that had previously dominated the European landscape for hundreds of years, and from which the geography of Britain had partly protected it. Living with diversity calls us all to a radical selflessness; it is precisely such a selflessness which is lacking in current political debate.

CEMES interns 2018-2019