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.

Friday, 22 September 2017

7 Interim ministers trained

Seven priests have just completed training to be interim ministers at a programme led by the Director of Ministerial Development, the Revd Canon Ulla Monberg, and the Archdeacon of Gibraltar the Ven. Geoff Johnston.

Interim ministers are a fairly new concept to the Church of England and are deployed in churches during a vacancy  to provide some transitional ministry where there has been a period of conflict or other parochial challenge. Thus, interim ministers are rather different from the normal locum priests who cover periods of interregnum, but who are there to simply "keep the show on the road". In contrast, interim ministers are given a specific brief by the relevant bishop and archdeacon, to work with the parish on some particular transitional matters, some often quite serious, in order to prepare it to welcome and work with a future permanent appointment. The Revd Molly Smith, a trainer with the US-based Episcopal Church’s Interim Ministry Network gave key leadership for our own diocesan training programme.

“This is an exciting and pioneering project,” Archdeacon Geoff said. “Interim ministry is really taking off and it is great to know that the Diocese in Europe is the first in the Church of England to offer this kind of professional training programme. “The fact that there are so many priests who are interested in developing their ministry in this way augurs well for the future.”

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Susan Boyd is admitted and licensed as a Reader to serve in Trondheim

The Revd April Almaas presents Susan to be admitted to the office of Reader
At one of the eucharists at the Nordic and Baltic Deanery synod, I admitted Susan Boyd to the office of Reader and licensed her for that ministry in the Anglican Church in Norway. Her ministry will be exercised mostly in Trondheim where she lives. The Revd April Almaas, our priest in Trondeim presented Susan for admission to this lay ministerial office.

Susan now joins a colleague Reader in Trondheim, Priscilla Beck, who works together with Mtr April in caring for our congregation there. The Revd Darren McCallig will soon become the Senior Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Norway, and will be based in Oslo. He will oversee the clergy and people in the daughter congregations of Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim.

(L to R) The Revds Darrem McCallig, April Almaas, Nick Howe, Kirk Weisz and Archdeacon Colin Williams with new Reader Susan Boyd
It was a splendid occasion as the service was held in the ancient Stavanger Cathedral, with music provided by the cathedral girls' choir.

Synod members after the licensing eucharist

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Children and the Kingdom: Theme of Nordic and Baltic Deanery Synod

Area Dean for the Nordic and Baltic Deanery, the Revd Nick Howe
Extending from Iceland to Estonia, the Nordic/Baltic deanery must be one of the most extensive in the Anglican world. Its synod, over which Area Dean Nick Howe presided, was recently held in Stavanger in SW Norway. Besides the usual business of deanery synod, this year the members looked at aspects of children's ministry. Technology enabled the synod members to hear a presentation on this subject by Professor Haddon Willmer of the Child Theology Movement, and Tony Cook, the Head of Youth and Children's Work for the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Revd Peter Hogarth introduces Professor Willmer who joined the synod by Skype
One of the synod eucharists was celebrated in St Swithun's Cathedral. The bishopric of Stavanger was founded in 1125 by a missionary from Winchester, who brought with him relics from that city's most famous saint, St Swithun. The cathedral has been in continuous use for 900 years.

The Revd Bjarni Thor Bjarnason (of Iceland) in front of Stavanger Cathedral
The synod has a good representation of members of our church who are of minority ethnic background (that includes me, of course!). We decided to have a picture together after the mass in the Cathedral to demonstrate just how colourful the Church of England is!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Trondheim Anglicans (and a bishop) at the consecration of the new Bishop of Nidaros

On Sunday 10th September., in the ancient Cathedral of Nidaros, in the presence of HM King Harald of Norway and a packed congregation of over 1000, Herborg Oline Finnset was consecrated bishop of Nidaros (Trondheim).

I was among the bishops invited from the Porvoo Communion of Churches, along with colleague bishops from Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and of course Norway itself. The Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, was the chief consecrator. The service was in Norwegian of course, but with prayers, readings and hymns in South Sami, Swedish and English.

Presiding Bishop Helga places the pectoral cross on Bishop Herborg (photo by Ole Martin Wold) 
One distinctive feature of episcopal consecrations in many Nordic countries including Norway, is that the new bishop must preach the sermon at the consecration mass! Quite daunting as the first task, not least in front of the King and 1000 people in the Cathedral. Bishop Herborg spoke of grace, that the Church's role is to extend God's grace to all, grace which allow us to live for God and in service to each other.

King Harald greets Bishop Herborg after the Mass (photo by Ole Martin Wold)
Our Anglican congregation at the Høymesse (literally High Mass) for the consecration was represented by the Revd April Almaas, the priest, and Mrs Priscilla Beck, the Reader. The Anglican services are held each week, either in the Cathedral, or in the nearby Church of Our Lady, which is connected to the Cathedral.

Nidaros Cathedral is built over the burial site of Saint Olav, the king of Norway in the 11th century. It was completed sometime in the 13th century.

The procession out (Photo by Eivind Almaas)

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Fr William Lister re-licensed for Florence and Siena

Normally in our diocese the issuing of a licence happens in a priest's own congregation. Given the scattered nature of our diocese, however, this sometimes has to take place elsewhere, depending on the diary of a bishop or archdeacon who normally must preside at this brief, largely, legal rite.

As the Chaplain of St Mark's Florence (with St Peter's Siena), the Revd Fr William Lister, needed to have his license renewed for a further term, a recent visit to Rome provided the opportunity for me to invite him to journey south for this ceremony. This was able to be done before the icon of Christ the Light of the World in All Saints Church which was consecrated by Pope Francis when he visited our Anglican chaplaincy in Rome last February.

Fr Lister is also Area Dean of Italy and an Assistant Director of Ordinands in the diocese.

Monday, 4 September 2017

6 young adults placed in Diocese in Europe parishes to test their vocation

For the third year running, our Diocese in Europe is participating in the "Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme" (CEMES) which offers year long placements for young adults (under 30) wishing to test their vocation to the sacred ministry. This year 6 persons will be placed in our parishes in Lyon, Leuven, Brussels, La Côte (near Geneva), Ostend with Brugge and Vienna. They will be given practical experience in ministry, some time of theological reflection and exposure to the challenges of Anglican life on the continent of Europe.

Our Director of Ordinands, Canon William Gulliford, oversees the CEMES programme in our diocese, and works with a team of volunteer priests and laity in the supervision of the participants. A special orientation session for this year's cohort was held on 31 August to 1 September in Rome, hosted by All Saints Church.  

The scheme is part of the Church's effort to encourage more young people to consider Holy Orders. 


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

International Ecumenical Fellowship marks 500th anniversary of the Reformation

The International Ecumenical Fellowship (IEF) is a community of grassroots Christians from different countries and traditions, who through prayer and worship, theological study, discipleship, fellowship and friendship are spiritually encouraged to work for Christian unity. Their vision is summed up by the phrase "Living Today the Church of Tomorrow".
The 44th conference of the IEF was recently held for a week in Wittenberg, Germany, the place where Martin Luther, by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche in the town, gave birth to the Protestant Reformation in 1517. On the 500th anniversary of that event the IEF programme brought together Christians of every tradition to reflect together on the theme "From the true treasure of the Church(es), rediscovering the gospel together 1517/2017".
On Sunday, the final day of the IEF conference, I represented the Anglican Communion at a celebration of the Eucharist according to the Lima Liturgy, held in the Stadkirche (city parish church). Other celebrants came from Old Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Moravian and Methodist traditions. The chief celebrant was the Revd Dr Olav Fyske Tveit, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Other participants in the rite came from the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

In his sermon, Bishop Professor Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm of Munich made an impassioned plea which received an applause from the packed congregation: "The church can not be a place where those who are called sisters and brothers remain separate at the Lord's table".The Stadtkirche (dedicated to St Mary) is the building where the Reformers Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen preached. It also saw the first celebration of the mass in German rather than Latin. It is thus considered to be the mother church of the Protestant Reformation. The Lima Liturgy is a eucharistic rite based on the convergence on the eucharist reached in the Faith and Order text Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). It was first used at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission meeting in Lima, Peru in 1982. I had parts to preside in Spanish and English. Other parts of the liturgy were in German, French, Swahili and Polish!


Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Requiem for Bishop Geoffrey in Gibraltar Cathedral

The late Bishop Geoffrey at his last visit to Gibraltar Cathedral in 2013
I celebrated a requiem mass for Bishop Geoffrey Rowell in what was his Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, on Wednesday 23 August. I was assisted by the Locum Priest, Canon Gordon Reid and the able corps of Cathedral servers. The Cathedral choir sung the service. 

Following the homily, the Revd Doreen Cage from the neighbouring parish of Malaga gave a short tribute. Mother Doreen was one of the last persons that Bishop Geoffrey ordained (to the diaconate) and it was fitting that she was among the voices heard at the requiem. Here are her words:
I have such fond memories of Bishop Geoffrey and give thanks for his pastoral care. He frequently visited St Stephen's House Oxford where I was training and would always seek me out, greet me affectionately and spend some time with me. We were academically poles apart but he never made me feel less than I was.
He ordained me deacon at Holy Trinity Pro Cathedral Brussels and although he would have never ordained me priest it says something about him that he had been apart of my selection process knowing that I was not staying hopefully as a deacon. He had a quote for every situation and I saw him as a living Oxford Dictionary of Quotes. I saw him as a very holy man, dedicated to our Lord, immersed in he scriptures, zealous for church unity and an ambassador of such in our Diocese.
Our Lord and those who are there with Him are receiving an amazing person and we benefited from a life given to Jesus, holiness and service. Rest in Peace Bishop Geoffrey, my brother in Christ. 

In attendance at the Eucharist, besides Cathedral parishioners and a delegation from Malaga, was the Governor of Gibraltar, HE Edward G. M. Davis, CB, CBE. The Chief Minister of Gibraltar (who was out of the territory) sent Minister John Cortes as his representative. Monsignor Bear represented the Roman Catholic Bishop Carmel Zammit.

I chose for the Gospel St John 6.51-58, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven", knowing of Bishop Geoffrey's deep love and devotion to the Holy Eucharist, which is summed up in a verse from a hymn he wrote:

All praise and thanks, my Lord and God
For this your greatest gift to me;
Your very Self to be my food,
The love-feast of eternity.

Requiescat in pace.

Window in Gibraltar Cathedral

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A message from Fr Tuomas in Finland

A further deadly attack in a city in this diocese, this time in Turku, Finland.

The Area Dean for Finland, and Chaplain of St Nicholas, Helsinki, the Father Tuomas Mäkipää has written the message below to his people. We join our prayers with those of our Finnish sisters and brothers. May God renew our confidence and give us peace in our day.


I have followed in shock the news from Turku where two persons lost their life and at least six others were injured in an attack by a man with a knife.
My prayers and thoughts are with those who are affected by this heinous crime. May those who have died violently and unprepared find rest and everlasting life in the mercy of God.
The rescue workers and the police are working to help the victims, to prevent any further acts and to investigate the motives behind these events. Many came to help putting their own life in danger. May God look with love on those whose sense of security has been scattered and may he bless those who defended the weak.
I wish to pray also for those whose minds are so troubled that they can not find any other solution than attacking innocent people. May God show them mercy and love so that they give up their evil plans.
We are gathering as usual to Sung Eucharist in Mikael Agricola Church on Sunday at 10h00. Prayers for peace and justice are said at that service. We remember in prayers our brothers and sisters in Turku Cathedral International Congregation.
I know that many of you are afraid for your own safety. You might also have questions on how this might affect your personal safety and living in Finland. The Anglican Church in Finland continues its ministry to serve all.
The Collect from today's Evening Prayer:
Almighty God,
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
With my prayers,
Tuomas Mäkipää, Chaplain

Fr Tuomas

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Our solidarity with Barcelona and the assurance of our prayers sent to St George's

St George's Barcelona
It is with shock and sadness that we see that once again terror has struck at the heart of one of our great European cities. Many have died in the van attack along one of the main and busiest streets in the centre of the city, filled with residents and visitors enjoying a summer afternoon. 

I have been in touch with the Chaplain of St George's Barcelona and with one of the Churchwardens Mr Jimmy Dress to ensure that our immediate community members are safe. Social media is helping Jimmy gather news of parishioners. The Chaplain, the Revd John Chapman, has been on leave and returns this weekend.

I wrote to John and his wife, the Revd Dr Deborah Chapman, and to Churchwarden Jimmy to convey a message on behalf o four diocesan family. The message is below.

The Revd John Chapman

I have just heard the news of the terrorist attack on La Rambla this afternoon, which has left some dead and many more injured. It is hard to contemplate that this seems to be yet one more deadly attack in the heart of one of Europe’s great cities.
Please be assured of my prayers at this time and of the prayers of your brothers and sisters across the diocese, for the victims, their families and loved ones, and for all who are affected by this horrific attack. We pray that members and those connected with our own parish of St George are themselves safe. We pray for those who work in the emergency services, and for all clergy and others who will be offering comfort, relief and pastoral support at this time of grief and shock.
We pray that the perpetrator or perpetrators are brought swiftly to justice, and that calm and a sense of security is restored to your beautiful and peaceful city.
May God turn the hearts of those who think that such evil actions are in any way justifiable. May God bless us with hope and strength, and bless all efforts to bring healing and peace.
O Dios, concede a tus humildes siervos la paz que el mundo no les puede dar.  
In Christ Jesus
Stained Glass in St George's

Loving God,
Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.

Friday, 21 July 2017


I am taking a couple of weeks leave beginning Saturday 22 July. Do not expect many blog posts during this time!

My Chaplain Deacon Frances Hiller, or Mrs Bron Panter, or Mrs Emma Biaggiemma.biaggi@churchofengland.org at the Diocesan Office, are able to reach me, if there are any urgent matters.

Farewell to Catherine Jackson our Appointments Secretary

Catherine with Area Dean Medhat Sabry at Tangiers Interviews
Today is the last day for Catherine Jackson in her work as Appointments Secretary of the Diocese in Europe. Catherine has been serving this diocese in this position for almost 5 years now, and has been an integral part of the team serving the needs of our congregations.

Over these past years, she has overseen more than 100 appointments to our congregations, some of them very complex indeed. She has brought to the appointments process a youthful, competent and committed approach, always in line with modern HR standards. Her professional manner is something which so many of the laity of the diocese have commented on in my conversations with them. She has come to know, almost instinctively, the real and deep needs of a parish, and the anxieties which often worry clergy who are seeking an appointment with us.

Bishop's Staff studying Catherine's Appointments Report
A scattered diocese like ours requires clear and consistent ways of operating and Catherine continued to administer an efficient system to oversee the vacancy process, which requires dozens of steps, from the moment of resignation of the priest, to the moment of licensing of his or her successor. I know that the Archdeacons, Area Deans, and parish reps have relied on her to keep the whole process moving and for advice when problems occur. The needs of our churches are very varied, of course, and she has developed ways to tailor specific appointment pathways to meet particular needs, while always maintaining fairness for the prospective candidates and standards of equality and good process. An example of this is how, many years back, she pioneered the occasional "on-site" interview (as opposed to the interview being in London), when this is appropriate for the candidate or candidates and the congregation itself.

With members of Diocesan Synod in Cologne
Catherine has long considered this post as more than a job. For her it has been vocational. Thus, beyond her professional work as Appointments Secretary she has sought to enrich our diocesan life in other ways particularly through her music. Catherine is a gifted singer. She has performed at many services at diocesan events as well as at more lighthearted gatherings around the diocese.

In the Cathedral in Gibraltar
A pop-up talent show at an Archdeaconry Synod
Catherine tells me that she has found the diocese an "exciting place to be". She is impressed with the way our clergy and people "understand ecumenism in a very deep way" and and how, as a diocese, we have developed an "outstanding ministry to people from very different backgrounds". She has appreciated that the clergy and laity with whom she has worked "love what they are doing".

Well Catherine, we know that you have loved what you have been doing as well. And we will miss you and wish you every blessing in your new job, with the Department of International Trade.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

USPG, Serving Churches, Strengthening Communities

Bishop Saw John Wilme presides at the closing Mass
The theme of the 2017 USPG Conference was "Serving Churches, Strengthening Communities". Friends, supporters, diocesan representatives, staff and overseas partners of the mission agency gathered in High Leigh to explore this theme through 5 programme lenses:

  • Protecting health, 
  • Growing the church, 
  • Enabling livelihoods, 
  • Promoting justice and 
  • Responding to crises. 
USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is one of the oldest mission agencies in the Anglican Communion. Founded in 1701, it has been supporting Anglican Churches around the world in their mission to bring the fullness of life to the communities they serve. Many of our own Churches in the Diocese in Europe were founded and supported by USPG. 

Since 2015 USPG has been accompanying our Diocese in our work with refugees. Through funding, through provision of technical personnel, through planning for long-term strategies, USPG in an invaluable partner in our work. It was therefore a great pleasure to be able to give a keynote address on the theme of Responding to Crises and to share with the delegates to the conference how the Society has been working with us on refugee matters in Greece, Finland, and Morocco in particular, and what future plans might be developed.

Canon Grace Kaiso with Rebecca Boardman, USPG staff
On the periphery of the meeting I was able to have some planning discussions with USPG Staff and with the General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Revd Canon Grace Kaiso, about the possible secondment of a priest from a West African diocese to work with us in Morocco, in our ministry which is increasingly focussed on the Sub-Saharan migrant community there.  

I was also pleased to catch up with an old friend, Bishop Saw John Wilme, Bishop of Toungoo in Myanmar (Burma).

Monday, 10 July 2017

Anglican Old Catholic International Coordinating Council meets near Bonn

The relationship of full communion between Anglican Churches and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, is a result of what is likely the oldest ecumenical agreement between Churches - the Bonn Agreement of 1931. From 4 to 8 July in Königswinter near the city of Bonn itself, the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council (AOCICC) held its meetings. A visit was made to the Hotel Königshof in Bonn, on the banks of the Rhine. It was in this historic location that the text of the Bonn Agreement between the Anglicans and Old Catholics was signed on 2 July 1931. A photocopy of the original document was shared, a document which movingly even has some manuscript corrections made by the signatories.

Co-chairs Anglican Bishop Michael Burrows and Old Catholic Bishop Dick Schoon hold a facsimile of the Bonn Agreement

The Bonn Agreement is also likely one of the shortest ecumenical statements ever. The Old Catholic and Anglican Churches were brought into full communion on the basis of these brief affirmations:

  1. Each communion recognizes the catholicity and independence of the other and maintains its own.
  2. Each communion agrees to admit members of the other communion to participate in the sacraments.
  3. Full communion does not require from either communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith.

A significant matter on the agenda of AOCICC was the receiving of the results of the survey “Belonging together in Europe” commissioned by the Council in 2015. 106 responses were received from five countries across mainland Europe and reflected a high level of awareness of the relationship of full communion between Anglicans and Old Catholics. Respondents requested more resources for joint worship services as well as expressing the hope for more mutual engagement in service, witness and mission.

During the meeting one resource to assist our Churches to know more about each other was launched. It is a booklet entitled Anglicans and Old Catholics together in Europe. Copies will be made available through the Diocese in Europe office in London, and the Old Catholic Bishops' Conference Headquarters in Amersfoort NL.

Very encouraging reports of the AOCICC-sponsored young adult pilgrimage to Echternach were reviewed by the Council. I will write about that pilgrimage in another blog article.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Nicolas Razafindratsima ordained priest


On Saturday 1 July the Revd Nicolas Razafindratsima was ordained to the priesthood in St George's Paris. It was a jubilant celebration, reflecting also the multicultural nature of St George's and indeed our diocese. Fr Nicolas is originally from Madagascar. There is a large number of Malagasy (or Malgache in French) Anglicans in St George's and the ordination rite was printed in both English and Malgache, and the hymns, even the ancient Veni Creator Spiritus, sung in both languages - sometimes in vigorous competition!

Fr Nicolas continues, now as a priest, in his curacy at St George's.

The ordination liturgy is not one that is frequently seen in our churches. People often say to me following the service that there are two moments that particularly strike them. The first is the ordinand lying prostrate before the altar while the Veni Creator Spiritus is sung followed by the chanting of the litany by the Deacon. Prostration is an ancient biblical sign of humility (cf Deuteronomy 8.18) and vividly signifies that the ordinand is completely dependent upon God. All those of us in Holy Orders need to recall daily that our ordination is not about power and status, but is a ministry rooted in humility and servanthood, utterly reliant on God's grace.  The second is when the bishop lays on hands to call down the Holy Spirit on the ordinand for the office and work of a priest, with the other attending priests laying on hands at the same time, thus symbolising the oneness of the priestly ministry they share which comes from Christ our Great High Priest. Both these moments are captured on a video clip taken by a member of the congregation at Fr Nicolas's ordination:


Many of the parishioners lined up after the ordination mass both go greet Fr Nicolas, and to receive his blessing as a new priest.

At the champagne reception following the service a special ecumenical greeting was delivered by Pasteur Jean Andriamarohasina Ravalitera, who is the President of the Malagasy Protestant Church in France.