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.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Rejoice heavenly powers, sing choirs of angels: Easter at Christ Church Vienna

One of the highlights of the Sacred Three Days I spent with Christ Church Vienna was the Easter Vigil. This liturgy is among the most moving in the Church. It begins dramatically on Holy Saturday evening with the blessing of the new fire, and the lighting of the paschal candle. Thankfully, the rain in Vienna held off until the ceremony of the new fire was completed, and the Deacon, who has the most dangerous job in Holy Week, was able to light the paschal candle without setting himself on fire!

The Deacon then processed the paschal candle into the dark Church, symbolising the dark tomb where Christ lay dead. Then with blazing candles held by the assembly, he chanted the ancient Exultet, a magnificent hymn, which with lyric beauty announces the joy and mystery of Easter: "This is the night, when Christ broke the chains of death, and rose triumphant from the grave". 

Readings and psalmody helped us meditate on the works of God for his people since the beginning of time, culminating with the glorious Easter Gospel.

In Christ Church, as across the whole Church, this is a night when new Christians are initiated into the faith through baptism, and many are confirmed and received, strengthened by the Holy Spirit for their risen life with Christ and together with the faithful received the Holy Communion at the first Eucharist of Easter.

Catechumens anointed before their baptism

Confirmation candidates sign themselves with the Easter water to remind themselves of their baptism

In a parish like Christ Church, the organist and choir contribute significantly to the liturgies of the Church, and particularly in the Sacred Triduum, they have the opportunity to sing, not only the great hymns from across the ages, but the psalms, litanies and motets which accompany the liturgical action.

Some of the liturgical details are not quite so ancient, but nevertheless add to the joy of the Easter feast, such as the blessing of the chocolate at the conclusion of the Easter Day mass!

The joy of the Easter celebrations at Christ Church was hard to stifle. It was a blessed time of wonder, hope and praise. Thank you Fr Patrick and your people at Christ Church for the celebrations!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Ecumenism, prayer, liturgy, theological discussion all part of Sacred Triduum at Christ Church Vienna

Ecumenical leaders at the interchurch Good Friday service
There has been an Anglican priest in Vienna serving the British Ambassador and the British community since the late 17th century. The present building dates from 1877. Today the Church, although still closely affiliated to the British Embassy, serves members from over 25 different countries and is a truly multinational and multicultural community.

The chaplain, Canon Patrick Curran, also serves the daughter communities in Klagenfurt, Ljubljana and Zagreb. Fr Patrick is assisted by Fr Mike Waltner, the Assistant Curate, and the Revd Dr Robert Kinney, who assists as parish deacon. One of the parish interns on our Church of England intern scheme (CEMES), Philip Milton, is also on placement at Christ Church.

On Good Friday, Christ Church hosted an annual service for English speaking Christians of all traditions in the city. Clergy and lay leaders from the Methodist, Roman Catholic, Community Church, and the Church of Sweden came together for a one hour service of meditation on the final moments of Jesus's life. This service was in addition to the full round of the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum, from Maundy Thursday to Easter Day, which I was privileged this year to take part in with the faithful at Christ Church.

The Watch on Maundy Thursday after the Mass of the Lord's Supper
The Church's activities are wide ranging, from outreach projects to biblical and theological study groups. One group, historically named "The Men's Breakfast" expanded to include women for a session I led on the Church's approaches to the complex area of human sexuality.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Chrism mass in St George's Madrid

Blest by the sun, the olive tree
brought clusters of fair fruit to birth
whose ripeness now we bring with prayer,
Lord Christ, redeemer of the earth.

Thus begins the ancient Latin hymn that accompanies the procession of the oils to the altar during the chrism mass to be blessed. The oil of catechumens is used to anoint those who are about to be baptized; the oil of chrism is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders.  The oil of the sick is used in the sacrament of anointing of the sick.

This rite of blessing is at the heart of the chrism mass (indeed gives the service its name) and is the most ancient part of this liturgy. Since ancient times bishops gathered with their clergy during Holy Week to bless the oils which would be needed for those to be initiated into the Christian faith at Easter. Today, the priests still join with the bishop in the solemn prayer over the Chrism, recalling our unity in the priestly office. 

The public renewal of vows of ordination (and commitment to lay ministry) is a more recent innovation, but one which has grown to be highly valued among deacons, priests, bishops and lay ministers of the Church. It is a time when our collegiality and solidarity is expressed, and our unity in leading the people of God in a common mission.

Ministry is generally joyful work but it is also a lonely calling, perhaps even more so in this scattered diocese. To gather at times such as at the chrism mass is vitally important. It is an opportunity to build up our friendship and community. It is also an important time for me to thank the clergy and Readers, for their diligent and faithful service throughout the year. It was moving for me to hear from one of the priests who has recently moved into this diocese that, despite the distances, he feels genuine warmth and true collegiality among his brother and sister clergy.

It was a privilege to preside at this service in St George's Madrid this past Tuesday in Holy Week. Altogether about 20 priests from around the Gibraltar archdeaconry gathered for the liturgy. The welcome provided by Canon Paul Ormrod, and Reader Celia Paterson, at St George's was very warm indeed.

At the same time, Bishop Robert presided at a similar service in Brussels and on Wednesday in Paris.

After the service Deacon Frances and Reader Celia Paterson busied themselves decanting the blessed oils into containers for the clergy to take with them to their home communities, while the rest of us enjoyed a splendid lunch provided by the parishioners of St George's, on the Church patio, where we, like the olives were blessed by the sun.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Now here is a heart-warming reaction from a confirmation candidate!

"Costa Almería and Costa Cálida" is a lengthy name for one of our Spanish parishes which covers the most eastern province of Andalucia, and the neighbouring region of Murcia. There are three regular centres of worship, served by their Chaplain, the Revd Vincent Oram, an assistant priest, Canon Alan Bennett, a Reader, Duncan Burr and Church Army Captain Edwin Bates. They are supported by an active group of worship leaders and a Reader in training. Fr Vincent and his wife Robyn come originally from South Africa, and bring a rich experience of ministry in a very different context, and indeed during some of the most difficult times in South Africa.

Fr Vincent with his wife Robyn
I have been pleased over the years to see this chaplaincy continue to flourish. Fr Vincent, who has only been in post for a couple of months, has already identified persons who may be called to further ministry in the Church, which is very exciting indeed. Another positive sign of Christian life in the chaplaincy is the fact that it regularly produces candidates for Confirmation. I visited the parish on Lent 5 and confirmed three members at a very joyful occasion. And as is the custom in so many of our Spanish churches, major celebrations such as confirmations are regularly followed by a parish meal.

Testimonies were given by the candidates during the eucharist, when they were able to express some of the reasons they were each taking the step to receive the sacrament of confirmation. It is a brave thing to do, to stand before a packed Church and speak about one's faith journey, but the three candidates shared some moving words.

Confirmation Candidate Roger gives his testimony, The Virgin Mary looks on!
But a highlight for me was right after the mass when the enthusiasm of one candidate brought joy to many! Her emotion is captured in this marvellous short video:

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Anglicans from the Church of England and the Episcopal Church (USA) share a common life in Germany

Anglican congregations in Germany can be traced back over 400 years. Originally comprised of migrants from England, the congregations now include people of many nations, languages, and even Christian backgrounds. Today some of the Anglican Churches in Germany are part of the Church of England's Diocese in Europe, while others belong to the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe (part of the Episcopal Church, USA). The Council of Anglican and Episcopal Churches in Germany (CAECG) is a body bringing together the congregations of the two jurisdictions, for prayer, worship, to take counsel together and to plan joint activities. CAECG is thus a unique body in the Anglican Communion and a provides a creative forum for our churches from distinct Anglican Provinces to celebrate their shared heritage and forge a common life and mission in Germany.

Canon Christopher Jage Bowler and Area Dean Canon John Newsome
Two meetings are held each year, one more "business" orientated and one more educational. This March's sessions were of the "business" type, and included a robust discussion, among the clergy in particular, regarding the Common Fund increases for 2018 and 2019. Some work was done in small groups setting out a plan for some learning and exploration as a synod over the next years. This will include looking at issues of communications, ministry among youth and young adults and harnessing the gifts and insights of the rich inter-generational make-up of the German parishes. 

The Revd Canon Christopher Jage Bowler, Chaplain of St George's Berlin, is the current clergy coordinator of CAECG. The recent sessions were hosted at his Church in Berlin, where among the parish priorities are weekly prayers for peace and reconciliation around the famous Coventry Cross of Nails.

A special guest, Professor Dr Andreas Krebs of the Old Catholic Seminary in Bonn, gave a very stimulating paper on the challenge of modern secularism for our Churches, as well as brought greetings from our Old Catholic sister Church.

Fr Andreas Krebs
At the closing eucharist of CAECG the Revd Joachim Reich was received into the communion of the Church of England. Fr Joachim was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. His reception is an essential first step towards the full exercise of priestly ministry within an Anglican context. At the mass there was a warm feeling of welcome shared with Fr Joachim as he entered his new ecclesial home as a priest.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Bringing greetings to the new Bishop of Gothenburg

On 4 March in the ancient cathedral in Uppsala, I represented the Church of England at the consecration of Susanne Rappmann to be the next bishop of Gothenburg. I was able to extend greetings not only from the Church of England as a Porvoo partner church, but also from our own parish of St Andrew in Gothenburg, which has worked closely with the Swedish diocese over the years, especially in student ministry.

Bishop Susanne was consecrated in a solemn yet joyful service by the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Most Revd Antje Jackelén, who was assisted by several Swedish bishops, the Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Bishop of Iceland, the Bishop of Berlin-Brandenburg.and Bishop Absalom Mnisi of Swaziland. Bishop Absalom's diocese is twinned with Gothenburg, and it was good to have a time to catch up with him and with the Dean of Gothenburg Cathedral, Karin Burstrand, a strong supporter of our Anglican parish in that city.

Bishop Absalom and Dean Burstrand
Consecrations in the Church of Sweden are very similar to those in the Church of England, and are always set in the context of the högmässa, or High Mass of the Church. Besides a colourful array of bishops, many ecumenical guests were present, from the Roman Catholic Church, the Coptic and Syrian Orthodox, the Salvation Army and other free churches.

Bishop Suzanne has chosen as her motto, Vår Gud bär sår which I think means "Our God bears wounds". She says this motto reminds us of our calling to bear the wounds of others, and like Christ our God who bore the wounds of the cross but who rose again, to spread hope in the world.

Monday, 12 March 2018

50 years of Costa del Sol East Chaplaincy

The thurifer prepares for the anniversary mass
The Anglican Chaplaincy of St Andrew on the Costa del Sol East has just celebrated 50 years of life and witness. From humble beginnings in 1968, meeting in people's houses, the Chaplaincy now has a full-time priest, its own building and chaplaincy centre in Fuengirola, and 3 other worship centres in Roman Catholic Churches in Benalmádena, Calahonda and Alhaurín El Grande. The Revd Alaric Lewis, the current Chaplain, is assisted by a Reader Caroline Macfarlane and a Church Army Captain, John LePage.

Whilst firmly in the Anglican tradition, the Chaplaincy, (which has as its patron St Andrew), seeks to be a spiritual home for English-speaking Christians from all backgrounds. Most of the members are British in origin and many of them retirees. Nevertheless, Fr Alaric has initiated an occasional programme for children - "The Mustard Seed Gang". In addition to daily worship and the Sunday eucharists in the various centres, other parish activities include study groups, retreats, and numerous social activities. One such activity, a special afternoon tea, was part of the golden jubilee festivities. My recent visit on 24-25 February for the 50th anniversary included the confirmation of one of the members.

Fr Alaric, unfortunately for us in the Diocese and for parishioners in the parish of Costa del Sol East, is moving on and taking up a new post in the Diocese in Norwich at the end of this month. Speaking of the anniversary, he said,  "God has truly blessed us with so much, and today’s celebration was the perfect way to give thanks. Praise God for fifty years of prayer and service in his name, and prayers for the years to come. May we all continue to grow in love for Him and for one another".

Amen to that!

Confirmand Sheila, Fr Alaric and Reader Caroline

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Welcome to the Cathedral Chapter Canon Paul Ormrod

The Revd Paul Ormrod was recently installed as a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter, in the Pro-Cathedral of St Paul in Valletta, Malta.  The Chancellor of Malta, Canon Simon Godfrey presided at the installation, and the Diocesan Registrar, Mr Aiden Hargreaves Smith performed the necessary legal actions. The function of the Cathedral Chapter is to support the bishop by prayer and counsel.

The Chancellor of Malta, Canon Ormrod and the Diocesan Registrar
Many travelled from St George's Madrid where Canon Ormrod serves as Chaplain, as well as from a former parish where he served in Formby. In addition to his considerable parochial work in Madrid, Fr Paul has begun to work with me on an ecumenical vision for our partnership with the Roman Catholic Church in Spain. I will celebrating a Chrism Mass in St George's Madrid on 27 March.

Welcome to the Cathedral Chapter, Canon Ormrod!

Photos courtesy of Jill Ormrod

Saturday, 24 February 2018

One of our largest chaplaincies, St Anthony Abbot, Padua

One of the misconceptions about the Diocese in Europe is that it consists of church for the "Brits abroad". Whilst there are many UK passport holders who count among our faithful in the 300+ congregations, we are a diocesan family of people from scores of nations. For example, one large sector of our people come originally from Nigeria. In Italy we have several congregations where the majority are of Nigerian background, in Turin, Macerata and Pesaro, for instance.

Fr Amos with the church mini-bus (note the logo!)
I recently paid a visit to one of our largest congregations in Italy, St Anthony Abbot Church in Padua. The members of St Anthony Abbot come almost entirely from Nigeria, apart from those who are Italian born, but of Nigerian parentage. It is a vibrant community led by its priest-in-charge, the Revd Canon Amos Osaromkpe. We work in partnership with Archbishop Kattey of the Province of Niger Delta in Nigeria in supporting Fr Amos.

Young Ignatius 
The liturgy included the Baptism of Fr Amos and Blessing's son Ignatius, the Churching of Women (I hadn't done one of those for a while!), the admission of new members of the Mothers' Union, the honouring of the congregation's "Father of the Year" and confirmation of about a dozen young persons. A short 4 hour event!

After the mass there was a wonderful community lunch with a splendid variety of food from Italy and Africa. According to Fr Amos, the community fellowship meal is an important component of congregational life, as many travel great distances to come to church in Padua.

The electoral roll is currently being updated, but on my visit there were likely about 170 people present for the service. The activities of the parish are impressive, with a choir, a music group, the Men's Fellowship, Mothers' Union, and a "Children's Department" with about 40 children involved in education and catechesis.

Some new Mothers' Union members
Transportation is an issue on Sundays in Padua, and a church mini-bus provides a pick up service for many. There are other challenges facing the congregation as many parishioners are moving away, to the UK, Germany or other countries, which has greatly affected the finance of the congregation. I am working the Archdeacon to address this crisis.

It was a great blessing for me to be with this parish for the weekend, and there were many moments of great joy.

Some choir members