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Wednesday, 31 December 2014
King Alfonso XII of Spain once visited Nerja on the Costa del Sol and stepped out onto a viewpoint in the old town which has wonderful sea vistas. He proclaimed that the spot was "the Balcony of Europe". Today the Balcón de Europa, is a much visited tourist site in this Mediterranean town.
The Anglican Parish of Nerja and Almuñécar takes advantage of this famous spot as a point of outreach to the many English-speaking visitors to the area. The locum priest currently serving the parish, the Revd Peter Ford, held a carol service on the Balcón on Christmas Eve. 300 people attended!
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
For the second year in a row, as I was writing Christmas cards I wrote one to a dear friend, not knowing if he is dead or alive. Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo was kidnapped on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish border on 22 April 2013. His Greek Orthodox brother Archbishop of Aleppo Boulos Yazigi was kidnapped at the same time.
Mar Gregorios has been a voice for peace and harmony between religions and peoples. For close to 20 years I have known him and his patient and deep faith has inspired me and taught me much about dialogue and love. Just months before his kidnapping he asked me to come with him on one of his frequent journeys to monasteries and communities north of Aleppo so that I could see how Christians in the region seek to live in peaceful co-existence with their neighbours. He wanted me to bring my sons so they would learn from this experience as well. We never made the trip.
Since his disappearance the region of Syria and Iraq has become a complex theatre of war. 9 million Syrians alone have been displaced from their homes; 3 million of them have sought safety in neighbouring countries. (It is almost embarrassing to mention that the UK has admitted approximately 90 Syrian refugees – yes, that’s right, about 90. The UK has given about €700 M in humanitarian aid to the region, however). The Syrian conflict is now considered to be the world’s largest humanitarian and security disaster.
I wondered if I should bother sending Mar Gregorios a greeting this year, as it is not even known if he is alive. But I reflected that what this peaceful bishop has stood for, I should never forget. Christmas is a time to trust in God’s plan to liberate the oppressed. It is a time to renew our faith in Emmanuel, God with us, who brings healing to a crying world. It is a time of hope. I wrote the card.
To the Christ child of Bethlehem we pray: out of injustice, out of warfare, out of fear, lift every human heart this Christmas.
A happy and blessed Christmas to all Eurobishop readers.
Saturday, 20 December 2014
Sylvia Brantingham, the office assistant at the 14 Tufton Street centre of the diocese, retires, again!
Sylvia began her working career in the Church in 1967, in the office of the General Synod. She retired from that position in 1997, having worked under 4 Archbishops of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggin, Robert Runcie and George Carey!.She then worked for the Church Union, located at that time across the road from our Diocesan offices in Westminster. Upon retirement from that job, she came to work for us in 2003.
Sylvia is most often the first person our many visitors meet as she welcomes them and fixes them tea or coffee. She is also the one who most frequently answers the telephone and directs enquiries appropriately. Being at the heart of our busy offices, she knows all our challenges, joys and frustrations - and faithfully prays for us all!
We recently honoured Sylvia at the staff Christmas lunch and at our annual "Secret Santa" session. We will miss her, and wish her every happiness and good health in this her third retirement!
Friday, 19 December 2014
The Venerable Brian Russell is the former Archdeacon of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham. His experience in that wider ministry of oversight and collaboration have fitted him well for the role of Senior Chaplain of Norway. Although based in St Edmund's Oslo, Fr Brian oversees and supports the ministry and mission of daughter communities throughout the country, but especially in Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim, all of which have their resident priests as well.
Fr Brian is keen to harness the opportunities that the Porvoo Agreement hold out to the Church of England. Already several priests of the Church of Norway in various places are authorised to take Anglican services. There are always new and next steps, however. In the past months, Fr Brian has been in conversation with the Bishop of Tromsø in the Norwegian Arctic region about possible deeper collaboration in that city. Fr Brian is our Diocese in Europe representative on the Porvoo Contact Group.
In the meantime, parish life continues well in St Edmund's Oslo. Last Sunday 4 people received the sacrament of Confirmation. This Anglican congregation, with a modest but historic building in downtown Oslo, is becoming known "the Great Church in a Little Building".
The parish website is here.
Saturday, 13 December 2014
St Paul's Monaco has an active Sunday Club which provides Christian education to the many children of the parish during the time of the liturgy of the word in the Eucharist. One of the fruitful results of this programme is a steady stream of confirmation candidates each year. It also helps that the Chaplain, Fr Walter Raymond OGS, seeks to involve the youth in the liturgy of the parish, leading lessons and prayers from time to time.
This year, three young people were joined by an adult for the Apostolic Rite of Confirmation. Among the several important moments in the Confirmation liturgy is the time for the renewal of baptismal vows. This happens around the font itself, where our life in Christ begins. After leading the congregation in the words of the Apostles' Creed, the ancient baptismal creed of the Church, the confirmation candidates sign themselves with water from the font, to remind them that they belong to Christ, through their baptism.
Another significant moment, apart from the sacramental rite itself, is when the candidates receive lit candles and then lead the procession out of the Church into the world, for it is in the world, not in the Church, that our discipleship is lived out primarily.
My recent pastoral visit to the parish also enabled me to have lunch with some of our clergy from neighbouring parishes of Beaulieu and Nice, together with two of the Roman Catholic clergy in Monaco who serve English speaking Roman Catholics. St Paul's Monaco, and Fr Walter himself, plays an important role in ecumenical links in the region.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
In the Principality of Monaco the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, is a national holiday. I was invited by the Archbishop of Monaco, Monseigneur Bernard Barsi, to extend my recent parish visit to St Paul's Monaco by a day, to be an ecumenical guest at the mass at the Cathedral to celebrate that feast, and to join in the traditional candlelit procession which followed. This is also the occasion for the Archbishop to bless various crèche scenes in the neighbourhood of the Cathedral which have been prepared for the Christmas festival.
I was reminded how much ecumenical convergence has been made with regard to this particular feast of the Virgin. When the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed an article of the (Roman Catholic) faith by Pope Pius IX in 1854, an ecumenical problem was created for Anglicans and other Christians. Anglicans were concerned about the teaching authority of the bishop of Rome, independent of an ecumenical council of the whole Church, to proclaim a dogma binding on all the faithful.
However, leaving apart the particular act of Pius IX in 1854, the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue (ARCIC) has revealed much that Anglicans and Roman Catholics can teach together about the biblical pattern of grace which underlies this feast of Mary.
Fundamentally this feast proclaims nothing other than Mary's own redemption by Christ. Mary is human, like us. So, the emphasis should not be so much that she lacks something that other human beings have, namely sin. Like us, she is redeemed and set free from sin by grace alone. But that glorious grace of God filled her life from the beginning to prepare her for her great role to be the mother of the Holy One. The feast is a witness, then, to the absolutely radical and thorough nature of the saving grace of Christ. Mary is justified from the first moment of her existence. Her redemption therefore could only be completely independent of anything she could have done!
The Church of England celebrates 8 December as the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Sunday, 7 December 2014
The Revd John Barker, one of our relatively new priests, is in charge of the development of the Anglican congregation in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. The congregation was without a priest for 10 years, and since re-starting the work in April 2013, Fr John has led a growing international community.
On Advent Sunday 30 November, I was able to preside at the service, during a brief pastoral visit to Armenia. After the Liturgy there was a reception hosted by the UK Ambassador, HE Katherine Leach. I met parishioners from many countries, from the USA to Malaysia!
The Anglican service is held every Sunday at 6 pm in Surp Zoravor (Holy Power) Church which the Armenian Apostolic Church very graciously permits us to use, It is an ancient foundation, but was rebuilt in 1693 following destruction by an earthquake. Next to Surp Zoravor, is a small chapel where can be found the tomb of St Ananias, the disciple in Damascus who opened Saul's (future St Paul's) eyes (Acts 9.10-19) .
|Chapel of St Ananias with Surp Zoravor behind|
Saturday, 6 December 2014
|The Encyclical of HH Karekin II is read. The Holy Lance is on the lower right|
|The Holy Lance|
Fr John Barker, besides being the priest of our Anglican congregation in Armenia is also Apokrisiarios (personal representative) of the Archbishop of Canterbury to His Holiness Karekin II. The full title of His Holiness is, by the way:
Karekin II, Servant of Jesus Christ, by the mercy of God and the will of the nation, Chief Bishop and Catholicos of All Armenians, Supreme Patriarch of the Pan-National Pre-Eminent Araratian See, the Apostolic Mother Church of Universal Holy Etchmiadzin. (The reference to the Araratian See is significant. Close by is Mt Ararat where according to the Bible, Noah's Ark landed after the Flood).
Following the Divine Liturgy there was time for conversation with His Holiness and then lunch with him and the Bishops of the Church.
Friday, 5 December 2014
The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs, the priest-in-charge of Saint Margaret's, Budapest, (in the photo above with some of his young parishioners) celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Sunday, 30 November. Fr Frank was ordained in 1974 as a Conventual Franciscan -- the Greyfriars -- in the Roman Catholic Church. He was received as a priest into the US Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion in 1987.
Saint Margaret's is a vibrant and growing community in Budapest, Hungary, with members of all ages coming from many lands, including the UK, North America, several countries in Africa, and of course Hungary itself. The Archdeacon of the East was present for the Sunday liturgy and prayed a blessing on Fr Frank as he affirmed his ordination vows. Fr Frank is also an Area Dean within the Eastern Archdeaconry.
We congratulate Frank on this significant anniversary and pray that he will continue to nourish God's people with Word and Sacrament and guide them as shepherd and priest.
Sunday, 30 November 2014
|Fr Engin pictured (in white alb) directly above His Holiness|
This afternoon (Sunday) I received the message below from the Revd Engin Yildirim, the priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection, our Turkish language parish in Istanbul. Fr Engin was one of the clergy from the very small Christian community in Turkey who was able to greet Pope Francis.
Yesterday, Pope Francis visited Istanbul and celebrated Eucharist at St Esprit Cathedral where leaders of many Christian traditions were represented. It has been a very joyful celebration for all Christians. He delivered a very profound message about the work of the Holy Spirit towards the unity and witness of the Church. He will be visiting the Phanar (the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarch) today before he departs.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
|Bishop Farrell presents an Episcopal Ring to the Bishop-Designate of Limerick and Killaloe, Canon Kenneth Kearon.|
I participate in these "Informal Talks" in my role as the Anglican Co-Chairman of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Communion for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) along with the Anglican Co-Chairman of ARCIC, who also happens to be the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Sir David Moxon. The Anglican Communion's Director of Unity, Faith and Order, the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett Cowan attends, as well as the Secretary General of the Communion, the Revd Canon Dr Kenneth Kearon. The Roman Catholic Church fields our opposite numbers.
At our recent sessions Canon Kearon, who has recently been elected Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe in his home Church of Ireland, was given a gift by Bishop Brian Farrell, the Secretary of the PCPCU. It was an Episcopal ring. Canon Kearon said of this moving gesture, "This is both a personal gift from someone who has become a good friend during our annual meetings and other conversations, and also symbolic of the deep relationships which now exist between our two Communions, which are now being expressed at every level of our Churches".
It was a gesture reminiscent of the visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in 1966. At that time the Pope gave an Episcopal ring to the Archbishop. That historic meeting led to the setting up of the Anglican Centre in Rome and to the inauguration of the official dialogue between the two Communions.
Friday, 28 November 2014
The Reverend Dr Elizabeth Koepping, formerly the Assistant Priest at Christ Church Morningside, Edinburgh, Scotland has been appointed to be the Priest-in-Charge of the Anglican Church in Heidelberg, Germany with effect from 14th September 2014. She was licensed as priest-in-charge on 19 October by the Area Dean of Germany, the Revd Canon Ken Dimmick.
The English community negotiated a church of their own in the 19th century, a former chapel of a Dominican convent. It became known as "the English Church". In WWI the church was closed. In 1936 the building was then given to the Old Catholic parish, which is based there to this day. In 1971 Anglican services restarted in the (now Old Catholic) Church.
This is a new chapter in the life of the Anglican church in Heidelberg. For many years, the congregation was served by visiting locum priests. In recent years, the Church Council worked with me and the then Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe to explore a new phase of ministry, with a resident priest-in-charge, who could bring continuity to parish life allowing the possibility for development, growth and outreach. There are many English-speaking students and residents in this historic university city.
Dr Koepping will be assisted by the licensed Reader, Dr Rosemary Selle, who, in the absence of a resident priest, has given outstanding lay leadership in the congregation for many years.
|Dr Rosemary Selle|
Thursday, 27 November 2014
From 21-23 November, the Director of Training, Canon Ulla Monberg, hosted an Introductory Weekend to Spiritual Direction, which will be the start of an ongoing programme within the Diocese. 9 persons who are presently engaged in spiritual direction or who are interested in developing this ministry attended the weekend which was held at St Cuthman's Retreat Centre in Sussex.
The Revd Dr Mark Godson, Director of the London Centre of Spirituality, was the joint facilitator for this course, along with Canon Monberg.
The programme is in response to a desire for training in spiritual direction which emerges as a frequent theme in ministry reviews with our diocesan clergy and readers.
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Syrians refugees are flowing into Europe. The Senior Chaplain of St Paul's Athens, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, reports that it is estimated that 17,000 are now present in Greece alone. Many have entered Greece by crossing in small boats from Turkey to the Greek islands. They desire freedom of movement throughout the European Union, however the official exits from Greece to other European countries are closed to them. This further aggravates the challenging immigrant problem that already exists in Greece – a country itself suffering greatly from austerity measures.
At present 200 Syrians are on hunger strike outside of the Greek Parliament so as to press their case. They are only four minutes walking distance from St Paul’s Anglican Church. The photos in this post are scenes from this protest. St Paul’s still participates in the ‘Church in the Street’ initiative - a soup kitchen, five years in the running, presently providing 700 meals each day. Increasingly Kurdish Syrian families are recipients of the food.
Fr Bradshaw and I are in consultation with the Churches Commission on Migration in Europe (CCME) about how to address this added crisis, now facing the Greek Churches and agencies.
Almighty and all powerful God, creator of the world and the nations
We bring before you all those affected by the conflict in Syria.
We pray for an end to violence against all civilians.
We pray for those forced to flee their homes and who are now refugees: we pray that we may not ignore their pleas for help.
We pray for those in positions of power who have the means to make a difference to these lives; guide those whose actions might bring about a just peace in their homeland.
|Deacon Frances with Dean Andrew Nunn|
Monday, 24 November 2014
Rowan Williams, Meeting God in Mark. SPCK 2014. ISBN 978-0-07250-7. £8.99
Next Sunday, Advent Sunday, begins a new year in the liturgical cycle. The Sunday Gospels from Advent 2014 to Christ the King 2015 (year B) will feature mainly from St Mark's Gospel. Priests, deacons and licensed lay ministers who preach regularly know this, of course. I can think of no better way for preachers and the faithful in general to get ready for "the year of Mark" than to read the former Archbishop of Canterbury's little book, Meeting God in Mark.
The second Gospel is often overlooked by Christians who might prefer the clear exposition of Christ as teacher in Matthew, or the moving concern of Christ for the poor and outcast in Luke, or the mystical theology of John. But Williams gets to the heart of Mark's unique style and purpose in his Gospel in showing how, in Christ, God's new reign becomes manifest in a totally alarming, if often misunderstood, way.
In this concise volume (86 pages) Williams opens up the deep meaning of what Mark means by "good news", and "Son of Man". He also explains why Jesus appears to make ambiguous, even disparaging, comments about his miracles he performs or the parables he tells. There is a tantalising suggestion that the Passion account in Mark may stem from "the experience of early Christians walking reflectively in the footsteps of Jesus in his own city". Rowan also finds the tradition intriguing that much of Mark may come from the reminiscence of St Peter.
This book clearly comes from years of scholarly study and meditative reflection on the second Gospel. Williams' book is essential reading for anyone interested in the utterly radical revolution in the understanding of God, his Kingdom, and his love, which St Mark presents.
Questions for group discussion as well as a suggested Lenten reading guide are included.
Sunday, 23 November 2014
|Madeleine chats to another delegate at the ECEN Conference|
Madeleine points out a particularly relevant piece of information for this diocese: that the COP21 Climate Summit is scheduled from 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris. This will be a major global event, gathering world political leaders and many stakeholders from civil society. It is proposed that there are to be pilgimages from European Churches to Paris around the time of the summit, so that the Church has a visible presence at that time.
Saturday, 15 November 2014
The Revd John Barker, priest-in-charge in Yerevan, reports on an "intensive but very meaningful series of services of Remembrance" in the Armenian capital. On Sunday evening, 9 November, the usual service of Holy Communion was held that included prayers for family members and friends of members of our congregation that have died in times of war and violence
Then on Monday evening, 10 November, at 6 pm an ecumenical service of prayers for peace and reconciliation, organised jointly with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Director of Inter-Church Relations, represented Catholicos Garaging II. The choir of the host Church, St Zoravor enriched the worship.
On Remembrance Day itself, 11 November, the traditional service was held to commemorate all those who have given their lives in times of war so that we might live in peace. This service was organised jointly with the British and German Embassies in Armenia, and proved to be a very moving act of remembrance and respect. Fr John led the service jointly with Pastor Hans-Joachim Ederlen from the German Lutheran Church, and a choir made up of children of ten different nationalities from the international school providing the music.