A Weekend in Funchal

The island of Madeira is at the far South-West corner of the Diocese in Europe. It lies off the West Coast of Africa, and for part of its history was in the Diocese of Sierra Leone. It has a sub-tropical climate with warm weather all the year round. Work on the English Church in the island capital of Funchal was begun in 1817, so this being 2017 I was invited to help launch a bicentennial appeal as well as to confirm two adult candidates.

I was pleased to be joined on this trip by Archdeacon Geoff Johnston, pictured here in front of the distinctive neo-classical church building.

Holy Trinity church is set in a beautiful garden well stocked with flowers and shrubs, and elegant palm and banana trees. It is quite a large building and could seat 300 if the balconies were used. Though the local congregation is small, it attracts a good congregation from regular visitors to the island.

The Chaplain, Canon John Blair, and Jean his wife (third right), with members of the Church Council on John’s terrace.

One of the particular features of Holy Trinity Funchal is the British Cemetery, which offered burials to Protestants of all nationalities. Many notable and interesting people have visited or lived in Madeira over the centuries. Some came for health reasons because of the warm climate and clean air. Those buried in the cemetery include a King of Bonny, an African goddaughter of Queen Victoria and Dr. Langerhans – the German doctor who discovered the ‘islets of Langerhans’ that produce insulin.

Left: Church Archivist Cefyn, with Cemetery Gardener Carlos. Right: The very remarkable ‘British Cemetery’.

A neo-classical church, its surrounding gardens, and a sizeable cemetery all cost a lot of money to maintain. In days gone by, Holy Trinity had large congregations of wealthy residents, but that, sadly, is no longer the case, so a special appeal for funds is needed.

The main ‘launch event’ for the appeal was a magnificent banquet for over 100 people.

Churchwarden Richard Colclough, and my wife Helen, sit next to Madeiran Region Vice-President and Finance Minister Pedro Calado at the gala dinner.

Holy Trinity’s two most senior members are Maureen Goncalves and Elizabeth Burca, whose history with the church goes back some 60 years. Elizabeth was a cordon bleu cook and her husband was the manager of Reid’s Palace, Madeira’s best-known hotel. Maureen worked in the British Consulate.

Maureen & Elizabeth.

Holy Trinity Funchal is a little piece of English history. It is now a Portuguese trust. It hopes to be an international church, open to all nations, to be used for social and cultural events as well as worship. It looks forward to being fully embraced and understood as a special part of Madeira’s heritage and finding its place in Madeira’s future.

Coffee after church amidst the palm trees.

The visit concluded with a memorable traditional barbecue, kindly hosted by the churchwardens, at an off the beaten track restaurant in the mountains. Note the skewers of meat hanging from the ceiling!

Advertisements

Visit to Moscow with the Archbishop of Canterbury

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, visited Her Majesty the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury in October last year. This November 2017, Archbishop Justin made a return visit to Moscow. He was joined by a delegation including Bishop Jonathan Goodall (who has taken over from +Richard Chartres as our representative with the Orthodox Churches), Will Adam (International Ecumenical Secretary), David Porter (the Archbishop’s Chief of Staff), Ailsa Anderson-Cole (Communications Officer) and me. The aims of the visit were to commission Malcolm Rogers, the Anglican chaplain in the city, as apokrisarios (representative) to the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and to take forward dialogue with the Patriarchate. It was the Archbishop’s first visit to Russia and a particularly important event given current political tensions between the UK and Russia.

Malcolm and Alison Rogers arrived in Moscow this summer. Malcolm’s primary responsibility is the pastoral care of St. Andrew’s Moscow, which is a diverse church community inhabiting a splendid Victorian Gothic building, unique in Russia, that was used in Soviet times as a recording studio. He also acts as the face of Anglicanism in Orthodox relations in Moscow. His knowledge of Russian is particularly useful for this. On our first evening, the Archbishop met members of the ‘Step Up’ programme, which works with former orphanage children to help them complete formal education in order to gain employment. In a service of Compline, the Archbishop commissioned Malcolm as apokrisarios. We were particularly grateful to the people of the chaplaincy for laying on extensive refreshments.

The following morning, we were taken to the Convent of St. Martha and St. Mary. Unusually for Russia, the convent sponsors extensive social work – in particular running an orphanage for children with Down’s Syndrome. It was a delight to meet the children and see how well cared for they were. At the conclusion of our visit, the mother abbess (above, middle left) offered us delicious refreshments.

The ‘main event’ was a lunchtime meeting for the Anglican delegation with Patriarch Kirill (above, left), Metropolitan Hilarion (above, right) and other members of the Russian delegation. This took place with a high level of formality, in the magnificently regal surroundings of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Patriarch’s opening address included significant reference to the Middle East and to Ukraine and was delivered to a bank of television cameras. The media then left, and Archbishop Justin was invited to respond.

The dialogue between the two principals continued over a six-course banquet for, I think, about two hours. It was an extremely open, honest and warm discussion. I was impressed that the Archbishop could sustain the highest level of religious (and indeed political) dialogue and debate, whilst also eating a very substantial lunch! Following lunch, we moved to Metropolitan Hilarion’s offices. There was further discussion of specific ways in which our two churches could collaborate, for example in clergy and cultural exchanges. A joint press statement was issued drawing the attention of world leaders to the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. You can read the statement HERE.

In the evening, the British Ambassador, Laurie Bristow (above), hosted a lecture and reception for the Archbishop. 100 people attended from different sectors of the international and Russian communities. After the lecture, the Archbishop answered questions on a wide range of subjects.

The following morning, (more food!) the Ambassador hosted a breakfast meeting for our delegation with younger Russians who had been sponsored to spend a period of time studying in the UK. It was fascinating for us to hear their perspectives on matters of faith, their future and their country. I enjoyed a conversation with a woman who had studied business at Durham University. She described how, she had been one of the first Russians to study market economics and accountancy after the communist era. She explained how, in communist times, the notion of ‘making a profit’ didn’t’ exist – so you had to start learning about ‘profit and loss accounts’ from a very basic level!

We left the embassy to go to the postgraduate institute of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, where the Archbishop delivered a lecture on Christian anthropology. You can read it HERE. From there, we were taken to the newly rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which dominates the Moscow skyline. (Its predecessor was systematically demolished by the Soviets.) The building is vast – the main worship space has a capacity of 10,000 people. Just one part of the complex, the auditorium (below) is far larger than any church auditorium in Britain. And from the roof of the cathedral you get a fine view over the Kremlin and beyond.

Moscow Cathedral Auditorium
View from the Cathedral Roof

This was an unforgettable visit. It was a privilege to be part of the Archbishop’s delegation and to experience first-hand dialogue and debate between global leaders. It was a tough and demanding engagement, and one could not but be impressed with the Archbishop’s grace, intellectual ability and diplomatic skill. At the highest level, the two religious leaders established rapport and respect. In many other informal conversations, members of the two churches shared stories and experiences. At a time when political relations between Britain and Russia are frozen, I found it so encouraging to be reminded of our common faith, common concerns and common humanity.

Remembrance Sunday in Sittard

I write this having just returned home from one of the most beautiful and well-orchestrated remembrance events I have ever attended.

On 11th November 1918, the opposing sides in World War I signed an armistice that marked the end of hostilities on the Western Front. From then on, that day, the 11th of November, was kept as a day of Remembrance and marked as a public holiday in many European nations, including Belgium where I live. In Britain and many Commonwealth countries, the acts of Remembrance were later transferred to the nearest Sunday.

The Netherlands was neutral in World War I. It keeps its national Memorial Day and Liberation Day on 4th and 5th May. But in Sittard, in the South Netherlands province of Limburg, where some of the fallen of WWII are buried, there is a long-established tradition of observing the November Remembrance Sunday.

2017 is the 50th year that the Sittard War Graves Commission, the Mayor and the community of Sittard has joined with the NATO Allied Joint Force Command at neighbouring Brunssum for a service at St. Peter’s, Sittard, followed by an Act of Remembrance at nearby Ophoven War Cemetery.

The event is a model of co-operation between different churches, different countries, military and civic authorities and ordinary citizens.

The ecumenical service was hosted by the Roman Catholic Dean, Mgr. Wilbert Van Rems. Dominee Irene Pluim represented the Dutch Protestant Church, and our Reader from Eindhoven, Jan Waterschoot, and I represented the Anglican Church. I preached on John 15:13: ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’

Music was provided by a superb local brass and wind band – the Philharmonie Sittard and the St. Peter’s Choir and Organ. Most of those buried in the Sittard Commonwealth war graves are Scots, so it was particularly appropriate to have two pipers from the Coriovallum Pipe Band.

After the Church service we were taken by coach, with a police escort, to the cemetery. As always, the cemetery was beautifully maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Located in a peaceful housing area, the calm of the cemetery belies the bloody reality of the fierce Allied battles in this border region.

Children were invited to lay a red rose on each of the 239 graves. Wreaths were laid by representatives of many different organisations, including a Colonel from the German Army.

After the Act of Remembrance, we were taken back to Sittard for refreshments. Speeches were made by, amongst others, the Chair of the Sittard War Graves Committee and Major General Karl Ford, representing the NATO military presence.

During the reception, the local military wives choir sang the prayer ‘Bring Him Home’ (from Les Misérables).


Having just laid roses on the graves of so many young men, the words seemed particularly poignant and appropriate:

He is young
He’s afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

New Bells for St George’s Ypres

St George’s Ypres was built as a place of remembrance following the horrors of World War 1. The church building included a bell tower, given by the Knott family in memory of their two sons killed in the Great War. But, back in the 1920s, there was no money to buy a set of bells. So the bell tower has been used mainly as a store room and dumping ground.

The sun rises over the bell tower of St. George’s Ypres.

Ten years ago, Mr. Alan Regin, Steward of the Rolls of Honour of the Council of Bell Ringers, had the idea of equipping the tower with a full set of change ringing bells. Alan carried the project forward during the ministry of three chaplains – Ray Jones, Brian Llewelyn and now Gillian Trinder. A trust was formed which raised the large sums of money needed. Skilled workmen were found to refurbish completely the ringing room. And John Taylor & Co., the last remaining bell foundry in England, was commissioned to cast the bells. The bells were delivered to Ypres at the end of August and on Sunday 22nd October I had the privilege of dedicating them.

St. George’s Ypres was packed with local people, members of veterans’ organisations, and bell ringers from all over the United Kingdom.

The service included some stirring traditional hymns, and a reading from the Book of Numbers 10:1-10 – ‘the silver trumpets’. I had not previously noticed that Moses’s silver trumpets had two uses, just like English church bells have had – to summon people to assembly and also to warn of impending war.

After the sermon, Andrew Wilby, the Managing Director of John Taylor and Co. Bell Founders in Loughborough, presented a token bell rope to The Revd. Gillian Trinder as a sign of the new ministry at St. George’s Church. We then heard a delightful ‘touch’ rung on a set of handbells, newly presented to St. George’s by Mr. John Coles.

The set of 16 handbells were cast by James Shaw of Bradford in the nineteenth century and were once owned by John’s grandfather, Charles Coles, himself a wonderful ringer. They have recently been restored by Steve McEwan of Whitechapel Handbells and will now be housed in the ringing chamber of St. George’s for use by local and visiting ringers.

At the end of the service, a (very) few of us proceeded to the beautifully refurbished and panelled ringing room, dedicated to Bertram Prewett, a renowned bell ringer who perished in the Great War. These lovely words were used:
“In the faith of Jesus Christ, we dedicate these bells.
May they proclaim Christ’s message of love and salvation to this parish;
May they warn the heedless, comfort the sorrowing
And call all willing hearts to prayer and praise.”

The bells then rang out for the first time!

After the service, I spoke to many bell ringers who were thrilled with the new set of bells. I was also introduced to the chairman of the Sir James Knott Charity. The charity exists mainly to give grants to good causes in the North East of England (in fact I applied to it as a vicar in County Durham!). The chairman told me that because of the particular link of the Knott family with Ypres, and having in mind the ‘unfinished’ bell tower of St. Georges (built in memory of two of the Knott brothers), they had made a donation of £100,000 to purchase one of the set of 8 bells.

Following the dedication of the bells, a team of British bell ringers has offered to live in Ypres for 6 months in order to train up local teams of ringers in the art of bell ringing. Moreover, I was assured that St. George’s will now be firmly on the ‘bell ringers pilgrimage’ itinerary. These are the only ‘in use’ public set of English church bells on the European continent of which I’m aware, so they are very special!

One of the Christian creeds, the Westminster Catechism says: ‘man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.’ Bells put that catechism into practice. They summon us to worship God, they declare the praise of God and they point to the enjoyment of God.

And I think that church bells have a very important and contemporary function. Because in our time, people mostly neglect the worship of God. They have forgotten how to praise God, and they don’t know how to enjoy God. And religion is something which, if it is tolerated at all, is supposed to be something quiet and personal and private. By contrast, a set of pealing church bells says to us: ‘Don’t apologise! We have good news to share! Come and join us! Praise God with all your heart and mind and strength! It will do you good. And it will do your community good too.’

So, as some words we used at St. George’s put it:

‘We pray that the ringing of these bells will awaken in the hearts of all who hear them, the desire to worship God in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’

A Memorable Weekend in Trier

Trier is famously Germany’s oldest city. It is well known for its Basilica (below), built as Emperor Constantine’s throne room and now a magnificent Lutheran church and world heritage site. Next door to the Basilica stands the Roman Catholic cathedral that goes back in its origins to before Constantine and exhibits in its architecture a melange of styles testifying to the multiple extensions and rebuilding it has seen over its long history.

Trier Basilica
The Trier Basilica

I was staying slightly outside Trier in a place with significant history too: the Benedictine monastery of St. Eucharius and St. Matthias. The monastery is on the southern edge of the city, outside the original city walls and on the site of the city’s former burial ground – one of the oldest cemeteries north of the alps. The story of this monastery goes back some 1750 years to the very beginnings of Trier’s Christian history. For in St. Matthias’s crypt lie the sarcophagi of two of Trier’s first bishops: Eucharius and Valerius.

St Eucharius and St Matthias
The monastery of St. Eucharius and St. Matthias

But my purpose in being in Trier wasn’t so much historical as ecumenical. In the 1960s St. Matthias was at the forefront of European Anglican-Roman Catholic relationships. This monastery forged a relationship with the Anglican Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield. Bishop Stein (now buried in Trier’s Cathedral) gave permission for full inter-communion between members of these two communities. In a wave of ecumenical enthusiasm, an extensive ‘Anglican centre’ was built – though this closed due to shortage of money to maintain it.

To express their continuing close relationships, and bearing in mind that this year is the special 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reformation, the Anglican Community of the Resurrection and the Roman Catholic Monastery of St. Matthias decided to bring together three Anglican bishops and three German Roman Catholic bishops for a weekend of prayer, fellowship and discussion.

The monks were wonderfully hospitable. It was a personal delight for me to spend a weekend in the spiritually refreshing Benedictine rhythm of prayer. I was greatly privileged to be invited to preside at one of the community eucharists. I enjoyed getting to know the monks – some of whom had livelihoods beyond the monastery – I discovered one was a judge and another a town planner.

St Matthias monastery
Supper at St. Matthias monastery

The main purpose of the weekend was dialogue between the English bishops and our German Roman Catholic counterparts. It is probably true to say that Anglican-German ecumenical attention is mainly invested in German Protestant Churches. This was my first serious encounter with German Roman-Catholic bishops – and equally, I think, their first serious encounter with Anglican equivalents.

As Anglicans, we had opportunity to rehearse the last 50 years of very significant ecumenical progress. There was, I think, some genuine surprise and delight from the German side at the extent of ecumenical agreements that have been reached between our two communions. Our conversations covered many topics, but particularly the question of the ordination of women. This is, of course, a major sticking point, as a papal pronouncement has declared the priesthood of women firmly off the Catholic agenda. We wondered whether John Henry Newman’s honoured place within Catholicism, and his writing on the development of doctrine might be invoked? Could Catholics and Anglicans together discover in scripture a place for the ministry of women that might go beyond and behind serious difference in our current practice? Unsurprisingly, we didn’t make any theological breakthroughs. But our differences were discussed respectfully and honestly. And the presence amongst us of an ordained Anglican woman (and former Roman Catholic nun) from Mirfield gave those discussions added meaning.

Our meeting concluded with a joint statement giving thanks for the deep sense of fellowship we had enjoyed and expressing the heartfelt desire that the ecumenical progress made between our two communions might be better known and shared. I was thankful for the very kind hospitality of the monastery and for the longstanding good relationships between Trier and Mirfield that had made this warm encounter between bishops possible.

English Anglican Bishops
English Anglican bishops John Inge, Stephen Platten and Robert Innes
German Roman Caholic bishops Reihhard Hauke, Thomas Löhr and Wilfried Theising
With Abbot Ignatius and members of the monastery of St. Matthias; and Fr. George Guiver and members of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield

 

Progress With Brexit Negotiations

berlaymont

Contrary to the impression given in many sections of the press, I am very happy to report that there is steady positive progress behind the scenes in the Brexit negotiations in Brussels. This is particularly the case in relation to preserving the rights of UK and EU citizens currently living or working in a country different from their own who were the main subject of concern at the diocesan Brexit roundtable meeting that I hosted in Brussels back in January with then Brexit Minister Lord Bridges joining us by video link. When the 4th round of negotiations in technical working groups finished at the end of September 60 individual items in relation to citizens’ rights that will need to go into the mutually binding UK-EU Withdrawal Treaty were listed. Of these 65% had already been the subject of agreement in principle, 17% were awaiting clarification of the position of the two sides or have been referred up for consideration at a higher level and for the final 18% disagreement still remains to be resolved. Looking at the issues raised in January the current state of play is as follows:-

  • Mutual recognition of national insurance contributions for healthcare, pension and benefit entitlement. This would continue for those who have already at some time before a mutually agreed cut-off date (no later than 29th March 2019) lived or worked in another country. But those moving to live or work abroad after the cut-off date would not necessarily benefit from these provisions. The actual cut-off date is in the 18% of items not yet agreed.
  • Actual receipt of healthcare, pensions and benefits in another country. Only protected for those already resident or working in another country before the cut-off date. The possibility of continued British membership of the EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC) system for incidental holiday or business travel, especially for those who have not previously lived or worked in another country is still under negotiation.
  • Moving between EU countries after the cut-off date and taking protected rights with you is not yet agreed. At the moment rights are only agreed to be protected in the country in which you are resident or working at the cut-off date. The UK wishes the rights to be extended to cover moving to another EU country, whereas the EU is currently not accepting that position.
  • Annual Uprating of Pensions. The UK offered unilaterally at the outset to continue to uprate annually pensions paid to UK citizens’ resident on the Continent by the cut-off date. The EU side has now agreed that the same should apply to EU citizens receiving pensions from their home countries in the UK before the cut-off date.

european-union-headquarters-brussels-samyn-and-partners-architecture_dezeen_2364_col_20-852x672

  • Rights of family members The protected rights of citizens living in another country by the cut-off date are also to apply to dependant family members, irrespective of their nationality and even if they are temporarily resident abroad (eg students abroad). These rights should continue after the cut-off date even if the family members concerned cease to be dependants (eg students becoming workers). Children born after the cut-off date to citizens with protected rights would also be covered by them. Certain non-dependant family members may also be eligible but only if they are resident in the country concerned at the cut-off date. The right of new family members (eg spouses) to join citizens with protected rights in a country of which they are not a citizen is currently under dispute. The EU would like them to be admitted on the same basis as family members already with the citizen before the cut-off date whereas the UK wants to be able to restrict their access on the same basis as current UK immigration laws for non-EU citizens.
  • Voting Rights. The UK would like the current right of citizens living in another country to vote in local elections there to continue. The EU currently wants to leave it at the discretion of individual EU Member States as to whether to continue to grant resident UK citizens this right. Rights of citizens living in another country to continue to vote in elections in their home country have not been covered by these discussions.
  • Definition of ‘Living in another Country’. The protected rights under discussion would only immediately apply on a permanent basis to citizens who have completed 5 years continuous residence by the cut-off date. Those with a shorter period of residence before the cut-off date would enjoy these rights on a temporary residence basis until five years residence has been completed. Absence of up to six months in any one year or 12 months for an important reason (eg childbirth) would not count as a break in continuous residence. Also those reaching the age of retirement or having to retire on the grounds of incapacity before reaching five years continuous residence would qualify for permanent residence status from that point. However, even after permanent residence status has been granted an absence from the country concerned of more than 2 years could result in a loss of status. Currently the UK is offering to give qualifying EU citizens the right of return in perpetuity if they have an extended absence, but only if the EU will grant qualifying UK citizens to right to take their protected rights with them from one EU country to another.
  • Enforcement of Protected Rights At present the mechanism for citizens to have disputes with national authorities as to whether they qualify for these protected rights settled has yet to be agreed. The EU wishes for there to be continuing access to the European Court of Justice for EU citizens resident in the UK. From the UK side there is an offer for the Withdrawal Treaty to be written into UK law and for the British Courts to be encouraged or mandated to take into account the case law of the ECJ in decisions on citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Treaty.

union jack and EU flag

However, I must give a strong health warning that EU Treaty negotiations work on the principle that nothing is finally agreed until everything is agreed. Phase one of the negotiations also includes the border situation in Ireland post-Brexit and the so-called ‘divorce bill’ to settle outstanding financial liabilities, where progress is not as good as it is on citizens’ rights. It is only when progress on all three topics is considered to be satisfactory by EU leaders (their first opportunity to make this decision would be at the Summit scheduled for 19/20 October) that discussion can open on other issues, principally the possibility of an implementation or transition period after Brexit when the UK’s economic relationship with the EU would remain substantially unchanged, and the negotiation of a new permanent economic relationship to kick in after the transition period.

Special Note regarding Gibraltar: At present Gibraltarians count as UK citizens for the purposes of EU law (even though Gibraltar is not part of the UK). It is HMG’s intention that this citizenship definition should carry over into the Withdrawal Treaty, although final confirmation of the status of UK citizens post-Brexit will only be possible once the negotiation is complete.

A Grand New Beginning at St. Andrew’s Moscow

Moscow 2

My first official visit in the new academic year was to Moscow. I last visited the Russian capital in the mid-1980s as a guest of the Soviet ‘Intourist’. So I was eagerly looking forward to returning to see how it had changed since the Soviet era. This time I was going not as a tourist, but as Bishop to license Malcolm Rogers as Chaplain of the Anglican community of St. Andrews.Moscow 1

Of course all licencing services are important occasions, but dare I say it there was particularly excitement surrounding Malcolm’s arrival. Few cities compare with the awe-inspiring grandeur and scale of Moscow. And few have such international significance.

Anglican clergy who love Russia and speak Russian, and have the deep pastoral experience needed to build Christian community in Moscow are to be particularly treasured. At an early stage of ministry, Malcolm and Alison spent two years at the Orthodox theological seminary in St. Petersburg. Malcolm then served long incumbencies in London and Bury St. Edmunds. Family circumstances seemed right to allow a move and a new challenge. So in the summer of 2017 Malcolm, Alison and their youngest son Andrew left the UK and began a new adventure in Russia.

Moscow 3

St Andrews church is a remarkable building. Built in the late 19th century, it is an example of English Victorian church architecture that is unique in Russia. It has an impressive tower, that was used as a machine gun post by the Bolsheviks in the revolution. (I was shown some of the bullet holes that remain in the tower wall.) A primary school was built adjoining the church. After the revolution, the church was seized by the authorities and used as a state recording studio. It was returned to us as a place of worship in the 1990s following a visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to Moscow. And the recent and much awaited granting of a long lease on the building only came after the Russian Patriarch’s visit to Her Majesty last year.

St. Andrews now offers a fine worship space with superb acoustics – I particularly appreciated not having to wear a microphone. Beyond the body of the church are no fewer than 26 meeting rooms. This allows St. Andrews to host a range of groups and activities: a playgroup, outreach amongst orphans and troubled young people, alcoholics anonymous, and creative arts. As one member of the congregation remarked to me: ‘our buildings are really more of a cathedral than an ordinary parish church’. Featuring on walking tours of the city, the church attracts a continuous stream of visitors, and when illuminated at night – courtesy of the city council – it looks stunning. The arrival of a priest and pastor to carry forward the work and mission of the Anglican community in such a significant building close to the heart of magnificent Moscow felt like a truly spine-tingling event.

Oh, and I must add, that St. Andrews boasts an eco-friendly garden. The brainchild of the International Protestant Church that meets on Sunday afternoons in the building, a considerable area of waste ground and rubble was cleared to make way for an attractive garden complete with two large greenhouses for growing summer vegetables. Not at all what you expect to find in central Moscow!

Moscow 4
Pat Szymczak proudly showing the Bishop the St. Andrews Garden
Moscow 5
A model of an early Muscovy Company trading vessel on display at the Old English Yard Museum near the Kremlin

One fascinating aspect of St. Andrews is its intimate link with ‘The Russia Company’. Formerly known as the ‘Muscovy Company’ it was the first of the great British trading companies founded by Tudor and Elizabethan merchant adventurers. (Today it is perhaps less well known than its ‘younger’ successors like the East India Company.) In the 16th century Richard Chancellor, arguably the first British ‘ambassador’ to Russia, journeyed to Moscow via the Arctic Ocean, White Sea and modern day Archangel – an incredibly dangerous voyage. He traded British woollen products for Russian furs. In succeeding decades, the Muscovy company gained exclusive trading rights with Russia and its merchants became the principal diplomatic contacts with Britain. Over the centuries, the trading rights were lost and the Company declined in importance. But there is still a fine ‘court’, now a museum, and in the 20th century the Russian company converted itself into a charity which supports the Anglican church in Russia. We were delighted to have representatives of the Russia Company involved in Malcolm’s appointment and present at the licensing.

Malcolm is supported by a Church Council with diverse passions and interests, from work with children, to care of the buildings, to researching the history of English burials in the Moscow non-Orthodox cemetery. I enjoyed a good lunch with the Council – pictured below at a local French-speaking Algerian restaurant.

Moscow 6

The British Ambassador to Russia, HE Laurie Bristow was kind enough to host a reception to welcome Malcolm to his new role. The Ambassador’s residence is located on the bank of the Moskva river with superb views across the river to the Kremlin. We had the great privilege of dining in the room in which Stalin and Churchill had met to discuss the post-war ‘settlement’ of Europe. In such a wonderfully historic environment, the Ambassador took the opportunity to remind us all of the long-term significance of the institutions in which we serve and our important but time-limited role in carrying the life of our institutions forward.

Building on the successful visit of the Russian Patriarch to HM The Queen and Lambeth Palace earlier this year, we were delighted to hear from Metropolitan Hilarion that The Patriarch would be happy to receive a visit from Archbishop Justin in November. This will be a major diplomatic event for the Anglican Communion. At a time of strained international political relations, it enables our church leaders to take some small steps to building understanding and contributing, in our own way, to world peace.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Malcolm has an important diplomatic role as Archbishop’s representative (apokrisarios) to the Russian Patriarch. Appropriately, Malcolm’s licensing was attended by four ambassadors – Britain, New Zealand, Namibia and South Africa. His arrival certainly opens a new chapter in the life of St. Andrews Moscow. It starts to place our work in Moscow in a key place in international Anglican concerns. Do pray for Malcolm, Alison and their family as Malcolm moves into this very significant position, as he finds his place in St. Andrews, and as he starts to engage with a very significant archiepiscopal visit soon after the start of his ministry.

Moscow 7
Pictured here, on the British Ambassador’s balcony overlooking the Kremlin are: The Papal Nuncio, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (spiritual leader of British/Russian Orthodoxy), HE Laurie Bristow, Metropolitan Hilarion (head of the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church), Canon Malcolm Rogers, The Bishop in Europe, The Archbishop of the Russian Lutheran Church, the Archdeacon and Pastor Mike Zdorow of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy.