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, 25 December 2019

A joyful Christmas to all!

San Ignazio, Rome

I wish all the clergy and faithful of the Diocese in Europe and all readers of this blog a joyful and blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

St George's Venice: a welcoming home for students and young adults

Fr Malcolm Bradshaw reports from St George's Venice, as he observes rising waters covering the ground floor of his flat again, that a month of high tides and flooding is beginning to be quite tedious. Nevertheless the parish is in good heart and attendance strong. 

In the past year, pews were removed from St George's, replaced by movable seating which has greatly enhanced the use of this wonderful Church building in the heart of La Serenissima. 

Fr Malcolm writes about one such opportunity, reaching out to students and young adults in this city:

"Over the past twelve months international students from the University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and similar establishments have attended worship at St George’s, Venice. Mrs Gilly Wiscarson, a member of the Chaplaincy Council, took the initiative to invite these students to a meeting accompanied by a plate of food which she herself prepared. As a result a monthly gathering has emerged and numbers have increased to twenty seven. These gatherings are not limited to students but are open to any adult within the same age range. Nor are any conditions imposed such as attendance at Church or being Christian.
On the evening of Friday 13th December a Christmas party was held at St George’s for these students. It was truly international and inter-faith. Young adults from Nigeria, Kenya, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Romania, the United States, India and elsewhere shared the occasion. Some were from different Christian denominations; others were from non-Christian traditions. Members of the Chaplaincy Council helped with hosting this occasion. It was truly a time of fun, lively conversation and an ease of relationships. Towards the end of the evening the students presented Gilly with a bunch of yellow roses and a gift expressing their thanks for the monthly meetings - for the laughter they enjoy, the sharing of difficulties whilst abroad and the taste of some home cooking."

Fr Geoff Johnston: 50 years a priest!

Surrounded by 9 priests, 1 deacon, 2 archdeacons and 2 bishops, the Revd Canon Geoff Johnston celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood on Sunday 22 December. Christ Church Belper was filled for the anniversary mass. Archdeacon Geoff was joined by his wife Carol, members of his family, parishioners, and friends and former colleagues from around the UK and the continent.

Fr Geoff has served the Church in many roles over these past 50 years: parish priest, industrial missioner, lecturer, ecumenical officer, area dean, assistant director of ordinands, and acting Archdeacon of Gibraltar, and acting Archdeacon of Italy and Malta. It was a joyful and moving occasion indeed, particularly at the heart of the service when Fr Geoff recited in the eucharistic prayer "we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you".

Ad multos annos!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

A new deacon ordained on St Lucy's Day

The home of our Chuch of England congregation in Bergen Norway is the 12 century Mariakirken (St Mary's Church). It is not only the oldest Church but the oldest building in the city, dating from some time between 1130 and 1170.  

This ancient Church was the venue for the ordination of the newest deacon in our diocese, the Revd Kirk Weisz. On St Lucy's Day, (Friday 13 December), the congregation gathered to celebrate this joyful step in Kirk's journey towards priesthood. 

Archdeacon Leslie presents the ordinand
Kirk has for many years been a minister of the Presbyterian Church, USA. His discernment to embrace Anglican orders, supported by our Director of Ordinands and the Candidate's Panel of the Church of England's Ministry Division, is in direct continuity with his flourishing pastoral ministry, as was pointed out by the preacher at the service, the Revd Jules Cave-Berquist. Mother Jules emphasised that God does not set aside what is good and fruitful, but builds on it. 

Reader Iris reads one of the lessons
Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel, the relatively new Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe presented the ordinand. Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith certified to all the legalities being fulfilled. Reader Iris Bjørnø read one of the lessons. I was assisted by the Senior Chaplain of Norway, the Revd Darren McCallig (Bergen is one of the 4 principal congregations within the Anglican Chaplaincy in Norway). Deacon Frances Hiller was deacon of the mass. 

The ordinand prostrates (an ancient biblical sign of humility) as the Veni Creator and Litany are sung
Saint Lucy's Day, or Santa Lucia, is a great feast in much of Scandinavia, including Norway. It is celebrated as a festival of light (Lucy comes from the Latin lux, light) in the dark of the Nordic winter, as the feast day of this 4th century martyr was the winter solstice before the Gregorian calendar reforms. It is a fitting day for a deacon's ordination, as a deacon is charged with bringing the light of the Gospel to God's people and to the world. 

We welcome Kirk into the clergy of this diocese, and thank God for the many gifts he brings in his ministry. 

Deacon Kirk Weisz, 4th from left)

Monday, 2 December 2019

Lay ministers (Readers) gather for in depth theological exploration of the Anglican heritage

The Diocese in Europe has been described as "the Anglican Communion in miniature". Not a bad description, given that 40 of the 165 countries of the Anglican world are in this diocese! Not a bad description since in most of our congregations there are over a dozen nationalities at worship. Not a bad description given that our present licensed clergy come from about 20 different countries around the world. It often surprises folk who come to know our diocese that migrants from the UK are no longer the majority in so many of our congregations. Our diaspora communities are made up of migrants from all around the world!

Canon Paul Wignall, Director of Reader Ministry
If we are "the Anglican Communion in miniature" it follows that our Licensed Lay Ministers (Readers), as preachers and teachers of the faith, need to be very familiar with the essentials of Anglican ecclesiology, the nature of the Anglican Communion and the fruits and challenges of Anglican ecumenical dialogue with other Christian traditions. Those who are in training for Reader Ministry in this diocese are required therefore to attend at some point in their formation (or as soon after admission to this ministry as possible) a weekend in-depth seminar on "The Anglican Tradition". Thus our trained lay theologians in this diocese are well equipped to understand our international Communion, its history and contemporary challenges, our ecumenical vision and commitments, as well as our own particular C of E structure, governance and legal/canonical tradition. (Canon law is after all simply "applied ecclesiology").

Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith illustrates the governance of the Church of England
This past weekend 19 Lay Ministers or Lay Ministers in training attended this seminar. It was led by the new Director of Reader Ministry, the Revd Canon Paul Wignall. Keynote speakers were our Diocesan Registrar, Aiden Hargreaves-Smith, Dr Alan Wakely, former Secretary of the Central Readers' Council, my Chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller, and myself.

Aiden engaged the Readers in a lively, participatory presentation on the governance and canons of the Church of England. Fr Paul introduced us to three contemporary Anglican theologians from our global Communion, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Michael Curry and Dr Kwok Pui Lan. Dr Wakely led an fascinating historical account tracing the ministry of Reader back to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Deacon Frances presented on music in the Anglican tradition, from Choral Evensong, through hymnody and modern worship songs, emphasising how most Anglicans in the pews learn much of their theology from the hymns and worship songs they sing. My lectures were on the principles of Anglican ecclesiology, the development of the Anglican Communion, and what Anglicans have contributed to and learned from our ecumenical dialogues.

Deacon Frances on Anglican music
Trainee Lay Minister Eric Sibomana from Holy Trinity Brussels commented on the weekend, "I have discovered so much about the Anglican tradition....and I have been a cradle Anglican! Throughout this seminar, j'ai été à la fois surpris et enrichi" (I have been both surprised and enriched).