WELCOME...

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, 21 July 2017

Holidays!


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:

https://www.facebook.com/DecoDesignAmpalis/videos/1400587993358410/


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.