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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Sunday, 31 March 2019

CAECG listens to views on human sexuality

The Council of Anglican/Episcopal Churches in Germany, CAECG, is a unique body in the Anglican Communion. Here the congregations of the Church of England meet with congregations of the Episcopal Church (USA) in a joint consultative body, a synod-like structure, to support each other in a common life and witness in Germany.

The Area Dean of Germany, the Revd Canon John Newsome, who takes on the role of Interim Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe on 1 April, (following the retirement of Archdeacon Colin Williams), was present for the sessions held in Treis-Karden on 8 - 9 March. During these meetings the CAECG explored a very current topic of debate in the Anglican Communion - human sexuality.

Far right: The Revd Canon John Newsome, Interim Archdeacon of Germany and N Europe
I was invited to present an overview of the factors which enter into the debates across the Communion. The members of CAECG also heard the views of two of the Church of England clergy, the Revd Canon Martin Reakes Williams and the Revd Stephen Walton who spoke of why, from their particular theological tradition, homosexual activity, even within a faithful and stable relationship is rejected.

As one would expect, a wide range of views, theological opinions and experiences were held among members, but attentive and sensitive listening to each other marked the occasion. Perhaps the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose image was enthroned in the hotel lobby where we met, was a help!

Saturday, 30 March 2019

The fruitfulness of communities of faith

The sacrament of confirmation is often associated in people's mind with a rite of passage for children and young persons. I have the privilege of celebrating the sacrament of confirmation with many candidates who are not children.

One of the remarkable features of this Diocese in Europe is that many people find that their experience of a community of faith provided by our churches opens up a path for exploring the meaning of their baptism and their calling as Christians. Participation in the liturgies, receiving solid and sensitive preaching and teaching, and sensing a welcome and acceptance by the community are all essential factors. For those who have never been confirmed, the sacrament provides a fitting celebration of their decision and commitment to walking together with their sister and brother Christians.

I hear this affirmed in so many moving testimonies from candidates when I ask why they have decided to take the step of confirmation. Such was the case at a celebration earlier this month in San Blas, one of the congregations in our Chaplaincy of St Francis, Tenerife South.


Tuesday, 5 March 2019

9 new clergy attend the Gibraltar Archdeaconry synod

The Synod Standing Committee: Area Dean David Waller, Archdeacon Geoff Johnston, Joan Berry and Gwen Furmster
The Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod is likely the largest of our Deanery/Archdeaconry bodies. It is also a surprisingly popular event. Many people volunteer and pay from their own pocket to attend, who do not have to be there by virtue of their licence or election. A rarity in the Christian world!

At its meeting from 3 to 8 February, near Torrevieja Spain, the Interim Archdeacon Geoff Johnston noted that there had been much change since the synod met last year, with a total of 9 new clergy appointments. As the Archdeacon is involved in all these appointments, this has been a busy year for him, in addition to his other responsibiliteis. Also several new diocesan staff, including the Director of Communications and Bishop Robert's attaché to the European Union, Damian Thwaites, and the new Diocesan Secretary, Andrew Caspari, were introduced to the synod. 

Fr Rodney Middleton
Canon Elaine Labourel

The clergy chapter, meeting before the whole synod, spent time exploring the Church's Healing Ministry, led by Fr Rodney Middleton of Holy Spirit Parish, Costa Blanca. The clergy also had a session on Reader Ministry, introducing the updated Reader Ministry Handbook in particular, which was led by the Director of Reader Ministry Revd Canon Elaine Labourel. The whole synod enjoyed a presentation on aspects of ecclesiastical law by Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith.

Diocesan Registrar, Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith

Canon Alan Bennet
The Revd Canon Alan Bennett (Assistant Priest in Costa Almería and Costa Cálida) presided at one of the daily masses, celebrating his 50th year in the priesthood.  I was also able to issue Fr David Waller with a fresh commission for his work as Area Dean. Fr David assists the Archdeacon in supporting the clergy and parishes in the Balearic Islands, and Catalonia.
Area Dean David Waller receives a new commission at Morning Prayer
The ingredients for a good synod seem to come together in the Gibraltar Archdeaconry: excellent leadership and planning, stimulating speakers, inspiring worship, a congenial venue, and time for fun as well as for business.

The Synod Barn Dance!

Friday, 1 March 2019

Congratulations to Deacon Frances

Yesterday, 28 February, was the feast of a saint not often celebrated across the Christian world, Pope St Hilary. (He is not to be confused with St Hilary of Poitiers, who is more widely commemorated). Pope St Hilary succeeded St Leo the Great as Bishop of Rome. He died in 468. 

Among Hilary's accomplishments were the building up and strengthening of churches and communities in what is modern day Spain. He is also known for enforcing discipline among bishops. What a splendid occasion, therefore, for the re-licensing of Deacon Frances Hiller. She is attached officially to the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar which includes Spain, of course, and her day job is being a bishop's chaplain!  

In the presence of staff at Tufton Street yesterday, I was pleased to license Frances for the next term of 5 years. 

Pope St Hilary