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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Saturday, 24 December 2022

Christ is born, to save us with his love

A Ukrainian Icon of the Nativity

The greatest and most loving gift we celebrate at this time of the year is the very birth of Our Lord. The great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner summed it up: “When we say, ‘It is Christmas,’ we mean that God has spoken into the world his last, his deepest, his most beautiful word in the incarnate Word, a word that can no longer be revoked because it is God’s definitive deed, because it is God himself in the world. And this word means: I love you, you, the world and humankind”

A Ukrainian Christmas hymn also affirms this truth: 

God eternal is born tonight.

He came down from above

To save us with his love

And he rejoiced.

A joyful, loving and peaceful Christmas to all!

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

St Nicholas Helsinki embodies the symbolism of Christingle


The mass for the Third Sunday of Advent at St Nicholas, Helsinki, was an all age eucharist, incorporating a nativity play for the Liturgy of the Word, and after the communion of the people, Christingles!

Most Anglicans know about Christingles, a custom which originated in Germany in the 1700s. At St Nicholas’s the symbolism of the Christingle itself, the orange representing the world, and the red ribbon the love of Christ which embraces the world and her peoples, came alive as the children of the chaplaincy had links to every continent on the planet. Together and with great joy, (suitable for Gaudete Sunday!) they bore witness to Christ, the Light of the World.

TV cameras making last minute adjustments at the rehearsal for the service

The next day, the Chaplain, Fr Tuomas Mäkipää, was equally busy, as the Chaplaincy's annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols held in the (Lutheran) Cathedral was this year to be recorded for broadcast on Finnish State Television this coming Sunday. 

Helsinki Cathedral

The Cathedral which holds well over a thousand people was quite full, which was very encouraging as the service itself took place in the midst of one of the worst blizzards Helsinki had seen for years. Fr Tuomas had made sure that a wide cross-section of the parish were given key parts, from members of the youth group, to senior members who have supported the Chaplaincy for decades. 

Ambassador Bubbear

While the order of service was the traditional one, some parts were in Finnish, including the 8th lesson read in excellent Finnish by HE Mrs Theresa Bubbear, the UK Ambassador to Finland.    

Fr Tuomas and Dr Hamid

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Farewell to Archbishop of Uppsala

On Sunday 30 October, the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Most Revd Dr Antje Jackelén retired. Archbishop Jackelén is a long-standing friend of the Church of England and as the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden has played a significant role as one of the primates of the Churches which are in communion as a result of the Porvoo Agreement.

In her closing sermon during the High Mass at which she laid down her crozier the Archbishop preached on “life together” as a description of what God wants for the people of the world: 

To live together. In the home, among neighbours, in villages and cities, in a society that is shaped by everyone's participation, in the interdependence between all the countries of the world, in community with all other living beings on a planet where the climate is changing, and to live together with and before existence's deepest secret, that we, along with most people on earth, call God”.

Many testimonies and speeches were given recognising Archbishop Jackelén’s worldwide influence. Greetings and warm words of thanks were extended from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. I was privileged to be able to deliver a message from Archbishop Justin Welby. 
Among the colleagues who gathered was the Revd Professor Dr Charlotte Methuen, representing the Scottish Episcopal Church. Charlotte was a former Director of Ministry in the Diocese in Europe and is now Professor of Church History at the University of Glasgow. A close friend of Archbishop Antje, Charlotte preached the homily at the Vespers the evening before the farewell service.

Summing up the many tributes, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Revd Anne Burghardt, spoke of the Archbishop’s role in leading the Church’s humanitarian and development work, and strengthening the work of advocacy, theological education and gender justice.

Professor Methuen and a Representative of the Sámi Community

Particularly notable at the service was the presence and participation of representatives of the Sámi People. One of the lessons was read in the South Sámi language. Last year, Archbishop Jackelén led her Church in issuing an official apology to the Sámi for centuries of mistreatment towards them, and for the pain and shame inflicted on generations of these indigenous peoples through racism and abuse of power. The presence and participation of the Sámi was a sign of the commitment to the path of reconciliation.  

Friday, 4 November 2022

Commitment, faith and love at St Anthony Abbot, Padova

Every time I pay a pastoral visit to St Anthony Abbot Church in Padova, I come away inspired and deeply moved by the infectious and joyful faith of the community. My most recent visit in October was no exception. The priest, Fr Amos Osaromkpe, leads his people forward, following the COVID difficulties, to rebuild the life of the chaplaincy. 

Lay commitment and discipleship in the parish goes from strength to strength, evidenced by many new members of the Mothers’ Union whom I admitted during the (3 1/2 hour!) Sunday liturgy. I was assisted in this very happy task of admission by Mrs Tonie Chandler, the Diocesan President of the MU. 

Many young people were confirmed and committed themselves to be active followers of Our Lord. During the eucharist, as they gathered around the waters of baptism, they solemnly reminded themselves of that most important moment in their lives, when they became joined to Christ Our Saviour. 

It was a blessing to be able to celebrate all this, and much more during my visit, and to receive the warm hospitality and generosity of the faithful. The parishioners are determined to ensure that I am the best dressed bishop in the Church of God, and presented me with a very fine pair of new shoes! 

Thursday, 3 November 2022

St George's Taormina - Centenary celebrations

St George’s Taormina, which has to be located in one of the most dramatically beautiful settings in the diocese, celebrated the centenary of their building on 14 October. The festive eucharist on the occasion was according to the Book of Common Prayer, the rite that would have been used 100 years ago. 

Taormina has been a favoured destination for British visitors since the 19th century when writers, actors, poets and film stars on the Grand Tour descended on this town, perched under Mount Etna, overlooking the Mediterranean. Visitors continue today in great numbers and swell the congregation of regulars. St George’s is thus a meeting place for so many from around the world. 

Civic and ecumenical guests, as well as parishioners, visitors, clergy who have served St George’s, and neighbouring Anglicans from Palermo and Randazzo helped to fill the Church on the joyful occasion. I was assisted at the mass by the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, David Waller. The locum priest, Fr Shawn Denney, and his wife Mary Ann, who live in Springfield, Illinois, worked with the lay leadership of St George’s over many months, to plan the celebrations. It was a fitting and historic event!

Later that same weekend, the Sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated in St George’s with candidates from Taormina and from St Alberto congregation in Randazzo.


Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Diocese in Europe Ordinand in Rome


James Bartle, Fr Tony, John Wilson and Daniel Tsoi

At the weekly eucharist at the Anglican Centre in Rome this week, on the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist, I had the privilege of presiding and preaching. It was a joy to see in the congregation one of our own Diocese in Europe ordinands, John Wilson, who is on placement at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome. He was joined by two other colleagues from the Church of England also on placement, James Bartle (Diocese of Newcastle) and Daniel Tsoi (Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham). 

Their formation as future priests will be enhanced by this experience of living and studying alongside Roman Catholic seminarians, in the heart of Rome itself. I always advocate for maximum ecumenical input into the preparation of our future priests. 

In the picture above the three are in the company of Fr Tony Currer, who was until last week, the Vatican Official responsible for relations with the Anglican Communion and a good personal friend and friend of this diocese. Fr Tony, after nine years in Rome, now returns to take up a parish in Darlington, England. 

Monday, 17 October 2022

20 years on

20 years ago today, the feast of St Ignatius of Antioch, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, assisted by Anglican bishops from England, Portugal, Spain, Latin America, Scotland and Canada, and Old Catholic bishops from the Netherlands and Germany, consecrated me a bishop. 

It was deeply moving also to be supported on that day by the presence of so many ecumenical guests from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Today I recollect, with a combination of humility and joy, the privilege of serving this part of God’s Church. The pastoral, multicultural and ecumenical dynamics continue to make this diocese an exciting context for episcopal ministry. I am deeply grateful for the prayers and generosity of so many, and for the wise counsel and warm collaboration of colleagues. And for the patience and love of my family that carries me through the challenges.

“We have not only to be called Christians, but to be Christians." -St. Ignatius of Antioch

Thursday, 13 October 2022

A gathering of 2 deaneries - after 24 years!

From Reykjavik to Riga, from Trondheim to Freiburg, clergy and lay synod delegates gathered from the Nordic and Baltic Deanery and the Deanery of Germany for a joint meeting of the Archdeaconry in Stuttgart, the first of its kind in about 24 years. The meeting was held from 6 to 9 October. 

The clergy gathered first for a chapter meeting and were able to share their experiences of the challenges from the COVID lockdowns and the current difficulties facing chaplaincies due to rising energy prices. There was much discussion about the effects of the war in Ukraine. Across the Archdeaconry not only has there been an influx of Ukrainian refugees, in many places being welcomed into our congregations, but also in places like Finland there are now complications arising from the influx of Russians fleeing conscription. Furthermore in Latvia, which has a sizable Russian speaking minority, the dynamics in the country are very complex indeed. The general mood in the countries bordering Russia is one of heightened alertness (in some places with parishes and clergy being asked to be ready for ministry in difficult times), but there is not as yet a sense of panic.

Stadtdekan Søren Schwesig

The gathering was hosted by the Erlöserkirche (Church of the Redemption) in the Landeskirche of Württemberg, a sign of the deepening friendship nurtured by the Meissen Agreement between our the EKD (the German Protestant Churches) and the Church of England. The Stadtdekan Søren Schwesig of the Church in Stuttgart was the guest preacher for our closing synod eucharist.

Bishop Antonio Ablon

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Antonio Ablon, himself a refugee from the Philippines now settled in Germany spoke movingly of the struggles of the indigenous people in his native Mindanao against the military who are seeking to clear the land for western investments. His testimony reminded us all of the centrality of the pursuit of justice, in the calling of God's people. The IFI is the second largest Church in the Philippines, and is in full communion with the Churches of the Anglican Communion.  

The Revd Vinod Victor

The meeting was able to hear reports about the general assembly of the WCC which met in Germany, at which several of our archdeaconry clergy were present and hosted participants in their parishes. Our Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel and the Revd Vinod Victor of Freiburg presented the publication The Journey in Servanthood – The DNA of a Confident Church, which was launched at the WCC Assembly, and we commend this resource throughout our diocese which contains essays from many leaders in our diocese and other global voices on key current issues. 

Archdeacon Nathaniel and Dr Clare Amos

Bible studies were led by Dr Clare Amos, our Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship. Clare helped us to reflect deeper into the theme of the Assembly Christ´s Love Moves the Church to Reconciliation and Unity, also the theme of this Archdeaconry gathering of both our Deanery Synods. 
Dr Amos also was able to introduce the exciting lay discipleship course, which has just been launched, and which will equip the people in the diocese theologically to enable them to move forward more confidently as disciples of Christ. 

The Revd Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler

The German deanery environmental officer the Revd Canon Christopher Jage-Bowler spoke passionately of the urgency to change our own lifestyles as individuals and as communities to avoid further catastrophic damage to our planet. We received an update on the work of the racial justice group and were pleased that the first international conference on racism hosted by our diocese will be held in Freiburg in October 2023.

On the theme Mission and Evangelism Revd Stephen Walton and the Revd Canon Joanna Udal shared perspectives from scripture and from contemporary life and we noted the development of new work in northern Germany, where the deanery is looking to provide effective ministry amongst English speaking Christians in this new work.

The meeting enabled a rich exchange of experiences and both clergy and laity were able to offer each other mutual support. The encounter of the two deaneries will certainly strengthen our common mission and further the deepen the unity we treasure in this diocese.

The Archdeaconry was grateful to the Chaplain of St Catherine´s Stuttgart, Revd Kara Werner and her team for the invaluable support they provided for this meeting. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Spanish language confirmation in Southwark

A bit of a different experience for me last weekend. 

People across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and our Diocese are is in the midst of the official mourning period following the sad death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. However, in parish churches everywhere much of normal church life also continues, including in a Spanish speaking parish in the Diocese of Southwark, San Mateo where I was invited by the Bishop of Southwark to preside at baptism and confirmations last weekend. The candidates had waited close to two years as the visit was necessarily postponed due to the COVID pandemic. They came from Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay. 

It was a joyful celebration, and particularly good to be alongside the parish priest, Fr Hugo Adán, a citizen of Spain, whose candidacy for priesthood in the Church of England was handled through our Diocese in Europe.

¡Felicitaciones y bendiciones a los maravillosos candidatos!

Monday, 25 July 2022

The Anglican Lutheran Society Conference in Trondheim


Bishop Michael Ipgrave

The Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave opened the Anglican Lutheran Society Conference in Trondheim Norway today, and introduced the opening speaker, Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway, the Most Revd Olav Fyske Tveit. Bishop Olav both inspired us and challenged us in recounting his years of experience in the ecumenical movement, including being the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches of 10 years. 

Presiding Bishop Olav Fyske Tveit of the Church of Norway, 

The theme of the Conference is “A Pilgrimage Towards Hope” and we are blessed to have such a gathering of Christian leaders, pastors and laity, who are committed to our common pilgrimage as Anglicans and Lutherans world-wide, to manifest the unity which is Christ’s will for the Church.

The first day of the conference coincided with the feast of St James the Apostle, the patron of pilgrims. It is a tradition in the Nidaros (Trondheim) Cathedral to honour St James, one of the saints whose statues adorn the great west front of the Cathedral, with a wreath at the start of the pilgrim’s mass, at which our conference delegates received a warm welcome. A priest was raised up on a boom lift to bring the wreath to St Olav. Now that is a new definition of "high church". 

Trondheim is itself at the climax of an ancient pilgrimage route, being the final resting place of St Olav. But the pilgrim mass was not merely a commemoration of the past, but reminded today’s pilgrims (and all Christians are pilgrims through this life, surely) of our need to tread lightly on our beloved planet, with the breathtaking model of our precious planet, just behind the nave altar with the image of our crucified Lord.

Our own Diocese in Europe has a presence in Trondheim with a vibrant community, part of the Anglican Church in Norway. Present at the mass were several members of our Anglican community, together with their Senior Chaplain, the Revd Canon Joanna Udal, who is attending the conference.

Saturday, 23 July 2022

The mind of the Communion


Lambeth 1998 Bishops

In the last few days the bishops going to the Lambeth Conference received the first information about decisions that may be before us. “Calls” is the term used, for declarations and affirmations that the bishops will be asked to consider and vote on. The Calls are largely non-controversial and many of them are, in my view, very good statements related to our work in areas of evangelism, reconciliation, Christian unity, environment, sustainable development and safeguarding among others. One particular reference in a section entitled Human Dignity has attracted some attention. The bishops will be asked to affirm:

It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Conference I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised.

I am likely one of only a few bishops going to this year’s Lambeth Conference that was present in 1998. I was not a bishop then, but on the ACC staff as Director of Ecumenical Relations and Studies and thus involved as staff of Section IV which dealt with ecumenical relations. (In 1998 the 800 bishops were divided into four sections, roughly 200 in each, for the best part of 2 weeks deliberations.) I had the privilege of being part of the daily steering group meetings when we received reports on the progress of the section discussions. I recall Archbishop Njongonkulu, the then Primate of Southern Africa who headed up Section I which dealt with human sexuality (among many other topics), reporting towards the end of the 2 weeks that there would be no resolution from the section bishops on human sexuality, as they did not believe the Communion was ready to agree such a resolution at that time. He did say that they had prepared a report, however, which summarised the range of the discussion and the journey so far. Resolution I.10 did not originate from the bishops in the section where the discussion on human sexuality issues took place.

In light of the insertion of reference to I.10 in the Lambeth 2022 preparatory document which we have just received, it is perhaps useful to recall what the bishops in the section which discussed the matter in 1998 actually said. It is a conservative statement overall and can be found here: Section I.10 - Human Sexuality ( But it makes some important points as to where the bishops were at that time. Here is an extract (emphasis mine):

We must confess that we are not of one mind about homosexuality …

We have prayed, studied and discussed these issues, and we are unable to reach a common mind on the scriptural, theological, historical, and scientific questions which are raised. There is much that we do not yet understand …

The challenge to our Church is to maintain its unity while we seek, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to discern the way of Christ for the world today with respect to human sexuality. To do so will require sacrifice, trust and charity towards one another, remembering that ultimately the identity of each person is defined by Christ.

24 years ago the bishops honestly stated they were not of one mind. In 2022 can we reliably state what is the “mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole”?


Monday, 18 July 2022

Scripture, Stones, Spirituality and human encounter: the MES study-pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The MES (Ministry Experience Scheme) is a programme largely funded by the National Church which places young persons, 18-30, who may be exploring ordination into parochial settings to get a sense of life in parish ministry. The MES programme of this diocese is one of the most successful across the Church of England. It is headed by Dr Clare Amos, our Director of Discipleship, with support from Fr William Gulliford our Director of Ordinands.

Dr Amos at the Dome of the Rock

One part of our diocesan MES programme which has not been able to be realised for the past two and a half years due to COVID has been a study-pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Finally this year we were able to restore this trip and so 10 interns spent from 7 to 15 July, visiting the Biblical lands, accompanied by Dr Amos, Fr Gulliford, the Revd Carolyn Cooke from the chaplaincy of La Côte, and myself. We were further very pleased that an intern from a similar programme of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in Europe, who is serving in Emmanuel Church, Geneva, was able to join us.

Birthplace of Christ

The days of pilgrimage, prayer and study began followed to a degree the earthly life of our Lord,  beginning with Bethlehem, journeying through various points in Galilee and ending up in Jerusalem, where the events of the passion, death and resurrection occurred. There were conversations with Palestinian Christians, including the Anglican priest in Nazareth, Fr Nael Rahmoun and Dr Elias Deis, of the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, as well as with Debbie Weissmann, an Orthodox Jewish leader and member of the International Council of Christians and Jews. Our visit co-incided with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, so we also were able to witness the devotion and the joy of the Muslim community as they prayed and celebrated this feast.

Dr Elias Daer at the Holy Land Trust

Fr Nael at Christ Church, Nazareth

Eid Prayers in Bethlehem

The Philip Usher Memorial Fund which focusses on the relations between Anglicans and the Orthodox East helped to finance the study-pilgrimage, so we took every opportunity to encounter the great Churches of the Christian East, Greek Orthodox, Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian and Greek Catholic. We were received most warmly by His Most Holy Beatitude Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Greek Catholic (Melkite) Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Jules Zerey

With the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

We joined in the joyful Sabbath worship at Kehillat Yedidya Synagogue. We gathered to celebrate the Eucharist on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and in the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu. Finally on the morning of our departure, we met at Abu Ghosh, one of the possible sites of “Emmaus”, where we celebrated a mass with confirmations for three of the interns, when we felt once again the presence of the Risen Lord encouraging and equipping his disciples.

On the shore of the Sea of Galilee

St Peter in Gallicantu

Confirmations at Abu Ghosh

The whole visit was designed to enable archaeology, biblical history, the biblical texts themselves, the sweep of Christian Tradition and the present context to come together to build a rich, multi-faceted impression of the Holy Land which will surely stay with the interns for years to come.

Thanks to all the interns for their excellent and stimulating company and to Clare, Caroline and William for their wonderful care and leadership.