On 26 September, 3 new deacons were ordained in All Saints Rome:Professor Dr Gottlieb Leopold Martin George, to serve as assistant curate (NSM) in St George’s Anglican Church, Berlin; Robert Rushforth Morley, to serve as assistant curate (NSM) in All Saints Anglican Church, Milan; and Dr Valdis Teraudkalns, to serve as assistant curate (NSM) in St Saviour’s Anglican Church, Riga.
The congregation had to be limited by Italian regulations to 60, and many of the close family and friends of the ordinands were unable to attend due to distance and travel limitations in the pandemic situation, but finally, after a three month delay, and finding a place where both I as ordaining bishop and the candidates could all be together (ordinations cannot be virtual!), we were able to proceed with this joyful occasion in the life of the Diocese and the Church.
Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and former Archbishop and Primate of the Indian Ocean, was able to participate with me in the rite, presenting one of the candidates, and delivering to them the copy of the New Testament, following the laying on of hands.
Besides our own diocesan officials, the Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, and the Diocesan Registrar, there were significant ecumenical presence, which helped to signify that although this was a Church of England service, it was in fact an event within the life of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Among the ecumenical guests were the Revd Matthew Laferty, the Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome (I have known Pastor Laferty from Moscow and Vienna) and the Revd Fr Robert McCulloch, the Procurator General of the Missionary Society of St Columba, and a Consultor to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.
The Revd Robert Warren, the Chaplain of All Saints Rome, was the preacher for the occasion. Fr Robert and his team (which included Chaja Verkerk, Ministry Experience Scheme Intern) were generous hosts for the event, having been given only very short notice that they were to hold this diocesan service.
In his sermon, Fr Robert encouraged the new deacons to be strong in faith for the uncertain days and years ahead:
"We have come to know with certainty this last six months, that there is no certainty, that events intervene, that underrated skills become crucially and suddenly important. The health emergencies of the recent past may continue. Political emergencies of the quite immediate future may dwarf what we have seen in the past six months. There is economic uncertainty surrounding the daily work of our parishioners – how they earn their crust. These along with the economic uncertainty facing the church will undoubtedly change the question “what will these three men do?” and “what will be their legacy in the economy of God?”...Be good curates where you’re sent. But be good soldiers in battles as yet unseen. You are being ordained with the greatest certainty that you are people of good repute. That you are wise people. That you have amassed about you a degree of circumspection, of knowledge of how people tick, that you are capable of knowing your place within structures, that you can work on a team where there will be people in your charge and where you are in the charge of others. But you are being picked out as people who have an acquaintance with the ways of the Spirit. You are being ordained not only in the certainty of what we believe we know, but in the hope that you will be up to the challenges of the Spirit of God in an age the exigencies of which we cannot possibly imagine.You’ve been told where you are going to start. The future is outside our reach and outside yours. You do not know where you’ll end and what a blessing you could become".
We pray for Valdis, Martin and Robert, on entering the sacred order of deacon as a vital step on their journey, if God wills, to be priests. May they indeed be a blessing to God's Church.
Photos courtesy of Chaja Verkerk
The service was recorded on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allsaintschurchrome/videos/1182436905474467/