Every year a Synod is organized by the Diocese in Europe. Various subjects will be or have been discussed. This page features all Archdeconry Report which have been made by (St. Mary's) Archdeconry Representatives. (Reports listed below, accessible by links, most recent at the top)
Snapshot From The North-west Europe Synod (Taken from the Diocese Web page -
The North West Europe archdeaconry Synod has been meeting at the Old Abbey of Drongen near Ghent. At the opening session Rev Dr. Guy Liagre, General Secretary of the Council of European Churches (CEC), spoke about "Forging our Future: European Churches on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.
Bishop Robert shared the diocesan strategic plan "Walking together in Faith: a Strategy for the Diocese in Europe" with the Synod. Members then had the opportunity to make inputs in shared group conversations. Canon William Gulliford, Diocesan Director of Ordinands threw light on "Vocations in the Diocese". At the evening eucharist, Bishop Robert commissioned two new Area Deans for North-West Europe archdeaconry, Rev Samuel van Leer as Area Dean of the Netherlands, and Rev Stephen Murray as Area Dean of Belgium and Luxemburg. The synod also offered an opportunity for the two AGMs of the Anglican Council of Belgium/Luxemburg and that of the Netherlands to meet separately.
Reporting by Rev Augustine Nwaekwe
Archdeaconry Report 3rd-5th October 2019
For the 7th time, the annual Archdeaconry Synod of North-West Europe was held at the beautiful ‘Oude Abdij’ in Drongen, near Ghent in Belgium. Extensive renovations are going on in the venerable old building at present, and in a figurative sense we could say that the same is happening in our Archdeaconry of North-West Europe!
Many new plans were launched during the days we were together, and we were able to exchange thoughts and ideas in a truly inspired atmosphere.
The Bishop’s Address
Bishop Robert Innes opened the meeting in prayer, and then he started with the famous opening paragraph of Charles Dickens' novel, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness .., it was the season of Light .., it was the winter of despair, ”
Bishop Robert mentioned the continual feelings of hopelessness and the pessimism about politics, nature, and climate change.
He continued with saying, however that despair is no Christian option. Despair is the abandonment of God and Christianity is the religion of hope. God does not give up on us. The bishop continued with a PowerPoint presentation of places he visited in the past year in his vast Diocese which stretches from Finland to Italy and from Gibraltar to Moscow and Turkey. His visits included Ypres in Belgium at the commemoration of the First World War, Helsinki, refugees in Greece; the Syriac Orthodox Church in the extreme south-east of Turkey alongside the Syrian border south of the great city of Diyarbakir; the Ladine people in Tyrol, and Chernobyl. Even though in many of these places there still is disaster and great pain, there is also hope. He also mentioned the title of the Archbishop’s Lent Book for 2020, “Saying Yes to Life’ by Ruth Valerio.
On the same note of hope, Bishop Robert commemorated the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966 - which was the first such public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation. On that occasion Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis commissioned and sent out 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from all over the world for joint mission: ‘From Canterbury to Rome’. The bishops were chosen by their home churches to represent them on the ecumenical body, IARCCUM – the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission. The pairs had to live in the same region. Thus Johan Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp, and Bishop Robert were selected to form one of these pairs. The ‘pilgrimage’ was regarded a great success and in the words of Bishop David (our suffragan bishop) ‘there is a growing sense of unity, common faith and common calling’. Thus, Bishop Robert announced with great pleasure that Bishop Bonny was going to address us the next day.
Welcome and Invitation
After the Morning Prayer service and breakfast, we heard Michael Harvey, internationally recognised mission expert, speaker and coach. In his inimitable Manchester accent and with a great deal of humour he spoke about welcome and invitation. Michael Harvey has written several books including Unlocking the growth (2012) and Creating a Culture of Invitation in Your Church (2015).
He started his talk by asking: ‘Are the churches you are representing welcoming churches?’ None of the synod members thought his/her own church unwelcoming or uninviting (extensive research has shown there is hardly anybody who will acknowledge that his/her church is unwelcoming!).
Clearly, we all know the benefits to be gained by being welcoming and invitational, so why don’t we already invite? Many excuses were brought forward: unpreparedness, embarrassment, fear to be rejected, fear to spoil a friendship, respect for other opinions, fear of being unprofessional in a professional setting, shyness, fear of lack of quality in one’s own church, fear to evangelise etc etc. Everyone has his/her own reasons not to invite, but the main barrier is the fear of rejection. A survey by Michael Harvey in 14 countries showed that: 70% of all respondents admitted that they had someone in mind who they thought would be interested in coming to church, but 80% of the respondents are not prepared to invite someone!
The reasons for not-inviting are similar everywhere. Apparently, we prefer to stick to what we have got instead of exploring what we can gain. There are many examples of people in the bible who were called by God and initially did not want to listen, (Jonah, Moses, ‘the burning bush’ syndrome, you must be joking I’m not doing this’). We need to reset our environment and release the fear.
We’ve got to forget success, and leave the result to God, we mustn’t think of growth; God is leading the invitation, not us. This makes it easier for us to ask.
The next speaker was Andrew Caspari, the recently appointed Chief Operating Officer (Diocesan Secretary). His office is, in fact, the core of the Diocese. Andrew had a long career in the BBC as Duty Editor of Radio Four’s Today Programme and as Commissioning editor for Radio Four. He was also Churchwarden of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London at the time of a major renovation. He calls himself a storyteller (his BBC background), a Christian (with ups and downs) and a European (no Italian name, he is from German descent; his family suffered in the holocaust).
What does the Diocesan Office for us?
The Diocesan office deals with Mission, Stewardship and Care (Safeguarding). Mission deals with walking in faith, building up the body of Christ, evangelisation of Europe, a just and sustainable world, reconciliation and research ministry. Stewardship deals with income (the Common Fund), health care of the clergy, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations), recruitment, rights of residence and Brexit-related problems. The principles of the Common Fund to which all chaplaincies contribute considerably, aim at fairness and complete transparency. The amount to be paid is defined by not only the numbers on the electoral roll but also by the weekly attendance, each for 50%. Most money goes to the Archdeacons and Safeguarding. Safeguarding has professionalised over the last years, courses are obligatory for Church Officers and all who deal with children and vulnerable adults; the Diocesan Safeguarding Team (DST) can be consulted at all times.
On Friday afternoon we had the so-called Benelux café, repeated because of its great success last year. Projects in chaplaincies all over the Benelux could present themselves.
There was ‘Open Doors’ a society which supports persecuted Christians all over the world, Prison Ministry, the Luweero Twinning, Pakistani outreach in Rotterdam, and a representation of ‘Christian Climate Action’ an action group concerned about the climate change.
Address Bishop Johan Bonny
Then followed the address by Bishop Johan Bonny, RC Bishop of Antwerp. He told us more about the project of the pairing of RC and Anglican Bishops by Pope Francis. He also quoted from the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis’ ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ (the Joy of the Gospel) issued in November 2013: ‘Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ.’ And: ‘I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.’
Bishop Bonny then discerned four themes: the Listening Church, the Welcoming Church, the Accompanying church and the Church moving forward. He expressed his sadness about certain political issues in various European countries, especially the rise of populism. If we listen, we hear many disconcerting things. The idea of a welcoming church is generally not very popular: ‘we’ is exclusive, meaning ‘only we’, not ‘you’; we seem to exclude LGBT-people, people living in different styles from the usual (here the bishop included his own family members). In this regard we should realise that only 2% of the population is churchgoing. Many church helpers live ‘irregularly’. Then there are Christians from other countries and continents. They form most of the minorities, as their numbers surpass the natives. These people were not welcomed in our churches either, at least not in the province of Flanders. (The same happened in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam South-East: many new churches were founded as they were not welcomed into the Dutch churches.)
To welcome is not the same as accompanying. Many youngsters are not ready in their personal development to be interested in religion. Many students of religion are therefore mature. Also, young families usually keep a safe distance from the church, follow their friends and postpone contact with the church. Many children lose contact after leaving secondary school.
Our society also needs accompaniment, and the church and her bishops are not doing very much about the destabilisation of society. There is propagation of hate, climate change and poverty. Pope Francis sets an example by visiting poor countries rather than the rich ones.
Bishop Bonny also mentioned that the RC and Anglican bishops paired by region had more in common with each other than with their ‘own’ colleagues from Africa and Asia. Cultural and racial differences are much larger than religious ones.
Dinner and Pub Quiz
In the evening we enjoyed dinner with lots of fellowship, meeting old and new friends. Afterwards, we had a hilarious pub quiz in the bar, led by Reader Heather Roy from Brussels.
The day was concluded with Compline, led by Simone.
Saturday morning started off with the AGM of the Anglican Church in the Netherlands (ACNL). The meeting was chaired by Ruan Crew, our Area Dean. Sam van Leer acted as Secretary, and Sandra Sue from Utrecht was re-elected as Treasurer. There was an attendance of about 25. Apart from the usual items on the agenda there was an announcement of a Church Officers’ day at Amersfoort on February 8th, 2020. It is meant for all Wardens, Secretaries, Treasurers, Safeguarding Officers and Archdeaconry Representatives in the Netherlands. The day will be organised by the Area Dean, Anneke Barends (Rotterdam) and myself.
Then the General Business meeting followed, chaired by Heather Roy.
It was a short and effective meeting: the finances of the archdeaconry have been found in excellent order in the safe hands of David Sayers, as always. It came out that there are funds available for training laypeople, if necessary.
The Revd Sunny Hallanan, Rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Waterloo, the only (American) Episcopal parish in Belgium, reported that the Episcopal Church had just appointed a new Bishop.
A discussion followed about the new regulation that Archdeaconry Representatives must resign after 6 years. It is not quite clear yet whether this rule will be in force next year.
Eucharist and Farewells
The official part of Synod was concluded with the Eucharist in the Ruusbroeck chapel.
Archdeacon Paul preached an inspired sermon. The Revd Barbara Noordanus from Eindhoven officiated.
We had lunch in excellent spirit, firmly resolved to convey all we had heard and seen to the parishes at home.
REPORT OF THE ARCHDEACONRY SYNOD 4-6th OCTOBER, 2018, Drongen, Belgium
This year the Archdeaconry Synod of North West Europe was held again at the beautiful venue of the Oude Abdij at Drongen, near Ghent in Belgium. Simone and myself arrived a day earlier to participate in a pre-Synod quiet day, led by the Revd. Stephen Murray from Ghent. We were a group of 13 on Thursday morning. Theme of the day was ‘Dirty talk, the Ground of our Being’. ‘Soil’ and ‘ground’ are usually considered in a negative way while they also could be regarded positively as elemental to our being and belief in God. We were asked to think of a place where we felt most happy (grounded), plant our feet and pray; and were given a passage from the Bible to meditate upon and digest.
Then the beautiful sonnet by Gerard Manley Hopkins was read aloud:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil….;
We were asked: where do you see evidence of God’s love in Creation, especially the soil and earth? And then: write your own praise song or poem according to a biblical text each was given.
It was wonderful to hear what everyone had written. Unexpected lyrics emerged!
Inhibition had vanished. At the end of the day we were put to work with our hands. From clumps of clay we created works of art that related to the subject of the day. The results of these dirty hands were astonishing, and we felt light and uplifted.
At the end of the afternoon the other Synod members flocked in, amongst them our own Chaplain Brian (via a roundabout route!). They were duly welcomed and we all sat down to a warm supper, followed by Compline.
The first meeting that evening was chaired by Archdeacon Paul Vrolijk. After some community forming by means of an amusing and effective guessing game about the characteristics of our fellow Synod members, Bishop Robert gave an address: Where is the diocese going? He compared the diocese to the human body. A body needs a skeleton, i.e. a law. The Diocese is governed by the Diocesan Constitution, drawn up in 1995 and amended in 2006. Within the Diocesan constitution The Diocese in Europe Measure in 2013 is now applicable. Quote: “The changes will have several major effects. They bring the Diocese more into line with the other 43 mainland English dioceses and will permit Church Commissioners Funding for a similar leadership pattern – mainly with the appointment of four full time Archdeacons . Future decisions involving the Diocese will also be made by the Diocesan Synod rather than in the anachronistic manner in which they were previously ratified by Bishop’s Council.”
Bishop Robert then pointed out that fortunately there is a change of culture; greater openness, transparency and trust e.g. in the appointments of clergy; we want to be the European conscience of the Church of England and do not want to lose contact, especially after Brexit. We must develop a strategic vision in building the body of Christ (e.g. the newly appointed Chaplain in Pas-de-Calais for refugees, and in Rotterdam for Pakistani) and in sustainable environment (eco-diocese). Of vital importance is the need to increase professionalism. New high-quality people are hired in a.o. accountancy, finance (Mike Fegan), data protecting and safeguarding. Now is the moment of existential decision for the Diocese; we were running a large deficit in 2017 and were heading for bankruptcy in 2020. All this could happen because we lacked capacity to manage change, didn’t have professional accountants, had no external scrutiny, and did not realise that safeguarding would be an ongoing issue. But the National Church (i.e. the Church Commissioners, see above) will fund the Bishops (Robert and David) and their office, and - with some shuffling around - four fulltime Archdeacons within our vast Diocese.
On Friday Colin Moulds, Executive Director of Bridge Builders Ministries and experienced trainer and mediator led us through three sessions of how to deal with conflict. In the first part,‘Making Peace with Conflict – Different ways of Doing Conflict’, we learnt that conflict is normal and that it will remain with Christians and the church until the end of time. A reassuring thought! And how big would the Bible be without conflict? Very thin indeed. We learnt about the different styles of responding to Conflict, Deliberate Listening, Centred Speaking. and Patterns in Christion Groups. We also received an inventory titled: ‘How do I respond to conflict?’ to fill in for ourselves, to map our own attitude in conflicts. The second part dealt with Making Peace with Conflict – Constructive Communication. In the third session we learnt about Handling Tension in Large Groups, making maps of a conflict. Colin’s speech was interspersed with (sometimes wildly- amusing stories which caused hoots of laughter, as we all recognised certain situations. He concluded with a quote from Henri Nouwen, ‘Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people’.
Brian and I - Simone had to leave us early Friday afternoon as she had to attend a course for Lay Readers-in-training in Woking - then participated in a workshop on Brexit, led by Bishop Robert and Heather Roy, Reader at Holy Trinity, Brussels. No political issues and implications were discussed, but practical matters such as healthcare for Britons in Europe, threatening unemployment for English working in Europe, clergy no longer being insured in Europe etc etc. Bishop Robert, who vented his feelings of shock and disbelief in a letter to the Church Times two years ago (we as a Church did too little, too late), now expressed the hope that negotations could develop into a more positive outcome for all parties.
We ended the afternoon with a Benelux Café. This new inititative replaced the usual presentations of Chaplains about what had been going on in their chaplaincies in the past year. Six chaplaincies offered a 5-minute talk about their work or project(s) and people moved around in groups. So you could hear what was going on in Amersfoort, Luxembourg or in the Port Ministries of Rotterdam and Antwerp, and in Ghent about Humanitarian Corridors.
On Friday evening we had an Informal dinner followed by a hilarious Pub Quiz, organised by Canon Andrew Wagstaff from Antwerp. We shared a good laugh!
Saturday morning started with the Annual Meeting of the Anglican Church (ACNL)in the Netherlands. The Revd Ruan Crew who recently took over from Sam van Leer as Area Dean chaired the meeting. Ruan expressed gratitude for being appointed but felt also daunted by the challenges. He will be assisted in the managerial and legal side of the role. The ongoing ANBI issue in which Jan de Beij is very much involved as a legal adviser and CIO (Contact in Overheidszaken) representative will hopefully efficiently be dealt with shortly. Many positive developments are seen in the Netherlands, new appointments of clergy and independence coming up for Heillo and Amersfoort.
The Synod Business meeting which followed was short and sweet, no special issues came up. The expected increase in payment from the chaplaincies to the Archdeaconry Common Fund was levelled out by the Diocese’s contribution to the costs of the Archdeacon’s office; the contribution to the mission project of Luweero will be €2500 as in the years before.
At 11.30 we all met in the Chapel for the final Eucharist led by the Archdeacon Paul. After lunch we departed in all directions. It had been a truly inspiring, instructive and refreshing Synod. It is a privilege each year to share worship, faith, learning, laughing and fellowship.
Archdeaconry Synod 2017, 5-7 October, Drongen, near Ghent, Belgium
The Archdeaconry Synod was held at the ‘Oude Abdij’ at Drongen near Ghent in Belgium. This time we participated in a ‘quiet day’ preceding synod. Therefore we had time to wander about in the grounds and on the premises and thus discovered a beautiful neogothic chapel on the first floor -almost hidden - built by one of the founders of neo-gothicism Jean-Baptiste Béthune (1821-1894). The chapel was built in 1878, commissioned by the Jesuit order, who then lived in the abbey. The discovery of the upstairs chapel and our visit to the abbey church of Saint Gerulfus next door - dating from the same period- greatly enhanced our stay.
The quiet day, attended only by a dozen or so people, was led by Archdeacon Paul Vrolijk. The theme was: Psalms for the Journey. In three sessions we went through the great issues in life as expressed in the Psalms. Leading was Psalm 139:23-24,
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Late in the afternoon on Thursday participants flocked in from all directions. There were more than 80 of us, a record. After supper, Bishop Robert Innes delivered his first address. He gave an impressive survey of his duties and actions over the past year and said that he had one of the most interesting jobs in the world! This statement was proved by a number of photographs taken by his wife Helen, who often accompanies him on his travels from Finland to Moscow, to Malta, to Turkey, Rome, etc etc.
Then Bishop Robert mentioned seven of today’s most urgent issues: ecological threat, refugee/migration crisis, insecurity in the East, religion, and violence, economic injustice, nationalism/identity issues/Brexit and continuing secularisation. He pointed out that all issues are connected and that political and religious leadership is particularly difficult at this moment. Economically things are not going well for many people; they are insecure, young people distrust institutions, nationalism rises, etc. Then he mentioned several initiatives that are taken to address these issues.
We closed the day with Compline. Between sessions, there were two Eucharist services, two services of Morning Prayer and two Compline services.
On Friday, we really started working! Under the heading Building the Future of the Diocese Bishop Robert explained to us the working of the strategy ‘ Walking Together in Faith – A strategy for the Diocese of Europe.' He started off optimistically with the remark that we do not have to change that much to adapt successfully. He said how ‘we seek to build a common purpose throughout the diocese by:
knowing ourselves as beloved children of God
loving God and our neighbour and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ
generating a shared sense of direction in the power of the Holy Spirit
providing a focus for all we do’.
We will work towards this by building up the Body of Christ and fostering growth, sharing with other churches and agencies in the evangelization of Europe, striving for the creation of a just society and a sustainable environment, working for reconciliation, and resourcing.
The next speaker was the Venerable Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn in Lancashire. His subject was MAP (Mission Action Planning). With Mike Chew, a former director of Philips, he wrote the book ‘Mission Action Planning’ in 2009. He recently wrote a sequel called ‘How to do Mission Action Planning, prayer process and practice.' In his first talk, he explained the practical side of MAP, and started with a quotation from the first book of Samuel [7:15 – 8:9]. Samuel is depicted as a hinge leader, someone who has to change the inherited models of his time to make progress possible. These people usually do not get the
credit for their actions (Gorbachov, President de Klerk of South Africa!). Vision comes through attentive
listening to God, to the community, and the church. Most important is the desire to change. He described a
Mission Action Planning cycle starting with a willingness to change, then to review (where are we?),
to discern (what are the choices?), to plan (what do we need for the journey?) and then to act (set out to
celebrate). This cycle revolves around passion and prayer. Every little success is worth celebrating! It is
wise to expect a 5-year cycle, with a review every year.
In Archdeacon Ireland’s second talk he highlighted the theology behind Mission Action planning. The adage
‘do the important things and do them well’ is vital. He referred to John 15:1-8 (Jesus the true vine). We
need to prune back on activities that are unnecessary and repetitive. Churches that do several MAPs become
more outward-looking over time. Doing theology is an action/reflection process. Again there is a learning
circle, starting with learning, then action, experience and finally theological reflection. We see this also, for example in Matthew and Paul, reflecting on the Old Testament scriptures in the light of their knowledge of Christ.
To quote the theologian Urban Holmes (1930-1981): ‘we can debate the trivial points, but the vision is largely clear, to love God and to relieve the burden of all who suffer. The rest is a question of tactics.’ He concluded with the text of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
Then followed a workshop about active mission planning, in which all sorts of practical ways of mission action planning were suggested and discussed. At the same time, there was a workshop on Safeguarding attended by those involved in the issue. Simone and Jan attended for St. Mary’s.
At the end of Friday afternoon there were elections for two chairs to the House of Clergy and the House of Laity on the archdeaconry level, and AGMs for the Anglican Council for Belgium and the Netherlands respectively. Our former Chaplain Sam van Leer is Area Dean and Chairman of the Anglican Council for the Netherlands. Synod is also an excellent opportunity, both to speak to so many different people, and as a great occasion for socializing. Which we did, meeting old friends and making new ones.
On Saturday morning there was a business meeting and a session with reports from the Archdeaconry. This item is always fascinating as you get to know what is going on elsewhere. We heard reports about the project in Luweero, Uganda. About prison ministry in Belgium. About the centenary of the First World War and all it entails from the Chaplain in Ieper. About a new church plant in Kortrijk. About the organizing of ‘Dare to Share’ in the Hague on March 11 this year and about the progress of translating liturgy for church services into Dutch from the Mission Working Party. About the ministry in the red-light district in Amsterdam; about youth work in the archdeaconry from the Youth Ministry Network in Northwest Europe and the Diocese, and more. On Saturday afternoon, we left Drongen contented. Over the past few days we had shared a common goal and friendship, and at the same time, we had absorbed much information that we could share with the congregation back home.
Further details on all the subjects discussed are available from us on request.
© Simone Yallop
ARCHDEACONRY SYNOD REPORT 13-15th October 2016
This year the Archdeaconry Synod of the Benelux (officially known as the Archdeaconry of North West Europe) met again in the beautiful surroundings of Ghent, in the historic abbey of Drongen, a mainly 17th-century building, still in possession of the Jesuit order.
The purpose and values of Synod were established in 2005 and updated in 2016. We mentioned them in 2013, but we will give the new version here. There are two legal purposes: to elect representatives and to conduct the business of the Archdeaconry. In addition, we seek to: engage with the issues facing the Church of England and the broader Anglican Communion; be inspired, equipped and encouraged to further the mission of the church in our local ministry setting; to stimulate ecumenical cooperation. We aim to achieve these purposes by having an annual synod in which we: celebrate our corporate life and what God is doing among us;
enjoy fellowship; worship; engage in discussion; are enriched in ways which can be shared with our chaplaincies/ministry setting.
The programme this year sounded promising, and we were not disappointed!
On the first evening of Synod, we were welcomed by the Archdeacon Meurig Williams. A moment of worship and
introductions followed. Then we had news from several chaplaincies, this year from Amersfoort, Luxembourg, and Liège. Amersfoort is a very recent church plant from Utrecht (December 2015). It was joyful to hear from the Revd Grant Crowe how Amersfoort is thriving with numerous members – among whom many children. It was moving to hear how bravely and optimistically Liège is struggling. Their very energetic priest fell
seriously ill, and there is much illiteracy among African members.
It was amusing to hear from the Revd Chris Lyon how Luxembourg is solving its housing problems.
Next, Archdeacon Meurig posed some vital questions: What is Synod, What do we do? And How do we do it? He said that Synod means literally, ‘walking together’ and that is what we should do, top down, from General Synod, Diocesan Synod, Archdeaconry Synod (the one we attended) to the Parish Church Councils. We
have to deal with global as well as local issues, different religious convictions – that is what we are Anglicans for-, different languages, and different cultures. Some of us have been brought up in the faith, some have come recently to faith. And he added that hopefully we would be enriched by debate and fellowship
and inspired by worship in the 48 hours we were together.
The next day began with an introduction of the Archdeaconry Standing Committee. Then a welcome was given to our ecumenical partner, Father Robert Frede (from the Old Catholic Church) and our guest speakers, as well as to the Bishop’s wife, Mrs. Helen Innes. After this, a brief report was given on the
Luweero project by the Revd Andrew Gready (Chaplain of The Hague), since our chaplain Revd Alja Tollefsen, the Chair of the Luweero Committee, was unable to attend Synod due to a family illness.
A report by the Mission Working Party followed. There were three main projects largely completed in the past year. The first project was the translation into Dutch of the Common Worship services Baptism, Funeral, Marriage and Holy Communion. (We were given digital copies of these services for a two-year
evaluation period.) The second project was the book “De Anglikaanse Kerk” (in Dutch!!) by Canon Dr. Jack McDonald, who is also a professor of theology in Leuven. (This book, translated by Jo Jan VandenHeede, is already familiar to our congregation.) The third project was the “Go Ahead” conference
in Utrecht about the seven disciplines of growing churches, which will be followed on 4th March 2017 by the conference “Dare to share” in the Hague. Also, a project instigated by the Archbishop of Canterbury called ”Thy Will be done” plans to have a major Anglican event in every capital of Europe in the period between Ascension and Pentecost 2017.
A presentation of this year’s group of three Church of England Ministry Experience (CEME) interns followed. It was wonderful to see how enthusiastically young people join this scheme with new ideas!
Our first guest speaker was Canon Grace Davie. She is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Exeter UK with connections to various universities in Europe and the United States. She updated her book: ‘Religion in Britain since 1945’ (published in 1994 and still in print) as a second edition under the title ‘Religion in Britain, a Persistent Paradox’ (2015). In a fascinating speech, she explained the persistent paradox: on the one hand, the process of secularization continues whilst on the other, there is a continuing/growing prominence of religion in public discussion. This combination is hard to handle because, at precisely the moment when they are most needed, British (and most European) people are losing the vocabulary, tools, and concepts that they require to have a constructive conversation about faith. The consequences are an ill-informed and illmannered debate about issues of extreme importance to the
democratic future of this country (read: Britain, but also holds true for other European countries, although in various ways), and a growing concern about religious literacy. (A copy of the presentation can be provided on request.)
The second speaker was Ian Carter, our new Diocesan Safeguarding Manager, who has overall responsibility for
safeguarding matters in the diocese. In his speech he gave us an excellent introduction to Safeguarding in the Diocese of Europe. It is a major issue, and all chaplaincies have to meet the requirements as provided by the Diocese (a copy of this presentation is also available on request).
Both speakers received a great response, and many questions were asked. There were lively discussions.
In the evening Bishop Robert reflected on how much we are globally connected these days, on the dangerous rise of populism, the fear of immigration, the fear of losing political control, Brexit and its result (only one person in the House of Bishops voted pro-Brexit!). Brexit might be considered a wake-up call for the European Union. In that regard the bishop quoted the prophet Jeremiah (preaching to Jerusalem when the Babylonians were at the gates) that first things will be worse before they get better (salvation is on the far side of exile). He mentioned a gentle decline of the Church: the average age in the church pews is now over 60. He outlined the differences between the Western and Eastern European chaplaincies, and the hopeful establishment of new churches in Krakow (Poland) and Istanbul. On a lighter note he described a recent meeting of 25 bishops with a leading businessman (Mr. Kevin Kaiser) which was very stimulating. It became clear that the bishops felt that a rhythm, or rule of life is all-important for a good Christian life. Bishop Robert also spoke about an occasion, that he recently attended, when Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby commissioned pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, from all over the world, to take part in united mission in their local areas. At that event, as a special sign of respect, a replica of the staff of St. Augustine of Canterbury was presented by the Pope to Archbishop Justin. (Fourteen centuries ago, Pope Gregory sent St. Augustine to take the Gospel to England.)
It was Canon Meurig Williams’ last Synod in Belgium as Archdeacon of North West Europe. He will be Archdeacon of France, in fact he has already been appointed. His successor is The Revd Canon Dr. Paul Vrolijk, who is at present Canon Chancellor and Senior Chaplain of Holy Trinity, Brussels and will remain so whilst being Archdeacon of the Benelux. We are very sad to take our leave from Meurig Williams, who has visited St. Mary’s on several occasions during the past few years and proved to be a real support and friend. However, France is not far away and he will continue to be the Bishop’s Chaplain based in Brussels. We wish him all good luck in his new assignment. Canon Paul Vrolijk is his worthy replacement. After a career in science and having lived all over the world, he was ordained in 2004 and worked in Aquitaine, France, before he was appointed in Brussels. We have great confidence in his capacities and wisdom.
The business meeting on the Saturday morning began according to the usual agenda recording apologies for absence, approving the agenda and the minutes of the previous meeting. In the item on finance the treasurer, David Sayers, presented the audited accounts for 2015. Financially the Archdeaconry is doing well. The accounts were accepted and the treasurer was discharged for the year 2015. With regard to the budget for 2017 the treasurer informed us that there are two unforeseen items that have to be taken into account. Firstly a safeguarding training programme for 120 people. Secondly the additional administration costs for the new Archdeacon. (In the past few years there were no administration costs because the Archdeacon was also the Bishop’s Chaplain.) The treasurer proposed to take the safeguarding training costs from reserves and to cover the administration costs for the Archdeacon by asking participants to pay to attend Synod next year (as was done in the past before we had a Bishop’s Chaplain as Archdeacon). The budget was approved although later during the meeting a motion was passed requesting the Diocese to consider covering the safeguarding costs instead of the Archdeaconry.
The Mission Working Party requested approval for a new framework for the next three years. Their initial aims to produce a book in Dutch about the Anglican Church and the translation of Common Worship liturgy are completed and there are new challenges they would like to work on. These include finding ways of explaining the Gospel in our contemporary culture today, ways to use technology and training to resource mission in our various locations and how to encourage a sense of community and belonging to the Anglican family. The motion was approved unanimously.
An interesting report on his experiences in attending the General Synod and Diocesan Synod was given by Tjeerd Bijl (General Synod representative). This was followed by a report on the Anglican Centre in Rome (www.anglicancentreinrome.org) given by Ann Turner our Diocesan representative. The Anglican Centre is the permanent presence in Rome of the Anglican Communion. It is a place of learning and of hospitality and wishes to make itself known to our congregations. After ‘Any Other Business’ we were informed that next year the Archdeaconry Synod will be held on 5–7th October 2017 again at the same venue in Drongen. We were also reminded that 2017 is an election year for Archdeaconry Representatives.
After the Archdeaconry business meeting the participants divided into two groups for the AGM of the Anglican Council for Belgium and the AGM of the Anglican Council for the Netherlands. We, of course, attended the AGM for the Netherlands at which Simone took the official minutes, which will be available on request. This meeting also followed the usual pattern with the approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, matters arising, reports from the National Executive Committee, Finances and AOB. There was some discussion on safeguarding paperwork as well as the new safeguarding training that will be given to both the clergy and to those working with children. In May 2016 a resource and renewal day took place for wardens, treasurers and secretaries. Plans are underway for training days in 2017 (9th June for clergy and 10th June for PCCs) with, as guest speaker, the leadership expert Revd James Lawrence, who wrote the course ‘PCC tonight’.
This year, as always, there were many opportunities for worship and fellowship at the Archdeaconry Synod. There were two services of Morning Prayer, two Eucharist services and two services of Compline (night prayer). The Eucharist on the Friday afternoon was very special because Bishop Robert presided and preached and also commissioned Canon Paul Vrolijk as the new Archdeacon of North West Europe.
On the Saturday morning Synod concluded with a Eucharist during which three languages were used (English, Dutch/Flemish and French).
After lunch we travelled home contentedly reflecting on an excellent Archdeaconry Synod.
©Simone Yallop and Joyce
Archdeaconry Synod Report, 8 to 10 October 2015, Drongen
The Archdeaconry Synod was held, from 8th to 10th October 2015, in the Old Abbey in Drongen, near Ghent in Belgium. Clergy and representatives from all the chaplaincies in the Archdeaconry of North West Europe, which covers the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, attended the Synod. Attending for St. Mary’s Anglican Church Twente was our Chaplain and myself. Unfortunately, Joyce was unable to attend this year. There was a full programme. Each day we worshipped together in the lovely chapel at services of Morning Prayer, Holy Communion and Compline. There were also plenty of opportunities for fellowship. Archdeacon Revd Canon Meurig Williams led the Synod.
Forging our Future: European Churches on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace
The General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), Revd Dr. Guy Liagre, spoke about the history and work of the CEC, which is an ecumenical fellowship of churches. It seeks to renew the spiritual life, to strengthen the common witness and service of the European churches, and to promote the unity of the Church and peace in the world.
Walking together in Faith: a Strategy for the Diocese in Europe
Bishop Robert spoke about a report, which showed that the Church of England is declining in numbers, and the average age of its members is getting older. The Archbishops were determined this should not be left unaddressed and put a programme for growth into place. If the church does nothing, membership of the clergy will fall by 40% in the next ten years. Declining numbers of clergy results in grouping parishes together, which significantly reduces the likelihood of church growth. Bishop Robert said it was his priority to develop a strategy, not imposed from the top, but discerned corporately by the whole body.
Bishop Robert presented the new Diocesan Strategy, which is called ‘Walking together in Faith’. The aim is to build a common purpose throughout the diocese:
(a) knowing ourselves as beloved children of God, saved by Grace, and born again by water and the Spirit
(b) loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves
(c) responding to the Great Commission (Matthew 28) to share the Good News and to make disciples
(d) gaining a shared sense of direction in the power of the Holy Spirit as we respond to God’s leading and grace
(e) providing a focus for the activities of all of our chaplaincies Bishop Robert explained that there are five elements in working towards this strategy:
(1) Building up the Body of Christ and fostering growth within the Anglican tradition.
(2) Sharing with other churches in the evangelization of Europe by proclaiming the Good News, valuing and promoting a culture of welcome and hospitality and seeking opportunities for growth
(3) Striving for the creation of a just society and a sustainable environment
(4) Working for reconciliation within the church at all levels, among nations, ethnicities and religions
(5) Resourcing through stewardship of our gifts and talents, and increasing numbers of full-time clergy and candidates for ordained ministry
Bishop Robert explained that many activities had been suggested in the strategies next level of detail. He asked those present to divide into groups for discussion and share the results. Bishop Robert took the results back for further consideration and development of the strategy.
Vocations in the Diocese in Europe
Revd Canon William Gulliford, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, gave a most interesting and informative talk on the discernment process, training and deployment of those seeking ordination as priests in our diocese.
Mission Working Party
Revd Stephen Murray gave an update on the Mission Working Party, which is active in the areas of Ecumenical Mission and Outreach, Church Planting and Mission Planning, Local Training Provision and Translation of Liturgy. Stephen Murray spoke about the activities of the past 12 months. In November, there was a fresh expression-visioning day, organized by the Flemish Roman Catholics, at which delegates from our chaplaincies took part.
The Mission Working Party was involved in the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES), where Revd Canon Jack McDonald is supervising the theological training of two people currently on this scheme. The Mission Working Party is also looking at how ordination training can take place in our local context. In Leuven, a new team has been formed to continue translating Common Worship into Dutch. The aim is to submit the translations to the House of Bishops by next spring. Revd Canon Jack McDonald has written a book about the Church of England, which has been translated into Dutch. It is a survey of the basics of Anglicanism. The book's expected publication date is March 2016. The Mission Working Party also organized an Archdeaconry Mission Day in November 2015 in Utrecht. The Mission Day gave clergy and laity an opportunity to look at the recent General Synod paper about Growing Churches and what this means for our archdeaconry in the light of the new Diocesan Strategy. (The February issue of St Mary's Magazine carried a report on the Archdeaconry Mission Day.)
Commissioning of the new Area Deans
During the Synod Eucharist, Bishop Robert commissioned Revd Sam Van Leer, as the new Area Dean of the Netherlands, and Revd Stephen Murray as the new Area Dean of Belgium and Luxembourg.
Sharing news from around the Archdeaconry
Revd Robin Voorn, representing the Old Catholic Church, brought greetings to this Synod from Joris Vercammen, Archbishop of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands. Revd Canon Andrew Wagstaff spoke about the church of St. Boniface in Antwerp, which is where the mission to North West Europe began, in the 1520s, as a church plant from London. They have a magnificent neo-gothic building and a good size congregation.
Mrs. Ann Turner spoke about how the reduction of state subsidies to churches in Belgium has led to increased giving from the congregation, but there are still concerns for the future. James Roberts and Nathan Joss, who are both in the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme, spoke about their course. James is working in Ghent with Revd Stephen Murray, and Nathan is working in Brussels with Revd Canon John Wilkinson. They are getting some practical experience in ministry and are doing some theological study. Archbishop Justin Welby is very much behind this scheme, which is intended to raise the number of those going forward for ordination.
Revd Sam Van Leer spoke about his work in Groningen. In 2011, Sam and his family moved to Groningen because of his wife’s work as a consultant virologist at the University hospital. Sam was licensed from Holy Trinity Utrecht, to explore a potential church plant in Groningen. In 2012, they started a house church and by 2013, they had two services a month with between 20 and 30 people. They decided to call themselves GRACE (Groningen Anglican Church). They now meet in the recently refurbished Old Catholic Church, where their numbers have doubled.
Revd Barbara Noordanus, from Eindhoven, spoke about her work with the new congregation in Maastricht, a story of a church that planted itself rather than being planted. It began in 2006 as a regular prayer meeting, which evolved into an Alpha course and a Bible study group. They asked if they could become part of the Anglican Church. Initially, they were looked after by the chaplain at the military base at Brunssum. Their numbers grew, and now they have become a congregation within the Diocese, marked by a service with the Archdeacon in June 2014. Egbert van Groesen and Grace West are both Readers in the Church of England and are employed part time by the Belgian state, and supported by the church, as lay chaplains in the prisons in Antwerp and Brussels. They spoke about their work and the importance of prison ministry.
Revd Alja Tollefsen spoke about the Twinning Oversight Group (TOG), which was set up last year to address the recommendations of the report made by Revd Canon Mark Oxbrow on our twinning link with the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda. Alja, who chairs the group, said they have been able to meet in Brussels twice during the past year. They decided this will not be a missionary activity, but there will be mutual involvement where both sides we can learn from each other. A visit to Luweero is planned to establish contacts. Synod members were requested to find out from their chaplaincies what they would like to see happening because of the link.
AGM of the Anglican Council for the Netherlands (ACNL)
Synod concluded with the Annual General Meeting of the Anglican Council for the Netherlands. At the same time, in a different room, Synod members from Belgium held a similar meeting. Revd Sam Van Leer, who has taken over as Area Dean from Revd Canon Mark Collinson, chaired the ACNL meeting. Revd Canon Mark Collinson is now Canon Principle at the School of Mission in the Diocese of Winchester. At the meeting, reports from the National Executive Committee were received and discussed. The Financial Report, including the audited 2014 accounts and the budget for 2016, was also presented.
The Executive Committee is composed of the Area Dean, the Ecumenical Representative, an elected lay representative, an elected clergy representative and up to three co-opted members. Since the previously elected clergy representative is now the Area Dean, Revd Francis Blight was elected to fill this position. The Archdeaconry Synod ended just after 14:30 on Saturday afternoon, giving everyone the opportunity to be able to get home at a reasonable time in the evening. It was once again a very enjoyable and interesting Synod. Further details on any of the above items are available on request.
Archdeaconry Mission Day
On 7th November 2015 an Archdeaconry Mission Day was held at Holy Trinity Church in Utrecht. The title of the day was “GO ahead: The Seven Disciplines of Growing Churches” and was organized by the Mission Working Party for the Archdeaconry of North-West Europe. There were about 20 people present comprising clergy and laity from chaplaincies in Belgium and the Netherlands. The day began with a beautiful service of Morning Prayer, from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, led by Rev. David Phillips, chaplain of Holy Trinity Utrecht. After coffee and a round of introductions the workshops began. The aim was to explore a report (GS 1917) from the General Synod of the Church of England about mission, evangelism and church growth. The report identifies seven disciplines essential for church growth:
(1) Prayerful discernment and listening;
(2) Apologetics (defending and commending the Christian faith);
(3) Evangelism (the initial proclamation of the faith);
(4) Catechesis (teaching and learning faith);
(5) Ecclesial formation (growing the community of the church);
(6) Planting and forming new ecclesial communities (fresh expressions of church);
(7) Incarnational mission (following the pattern of Jesus).
During the Mission Day there were workshops on each of these seven disciplines. Everyone attended the session on the first discipline. There were then three sessions, each with two concurrent workshops. The participants had to choose which of these workshops they wanted to attend.
Prayerful discernment and listening
The first session on ‘prayerful discernment and listening’ began with a talk given by the Archdeacon Rev. Canon Meurig Williams and was followed by a discussion led by Rev. Stephen Murray. The General Synod report says that this first discipline in growing churches is the foundation for all of the others. The transmission of the Christian faith is a divine as well as a human activity, which is only possible in the life of the Spirit. The Church is called to abide deeply in Christ as the foundation and source of her life through prayer, worship and the sacraments. Contemplation is the wellspring of evangelism. This deep abiding in Christ needs to be accompanied by a careful attention to what God is doing already in each different place, community and context and out of that listening to discern carefully the best and most helpful place to begin. In his talk the Archdeacon reminded us of the need to draw afresh on the sources of our faith and the depths of our Christian tradition. He encouraged us to immerse ourselves in scripture and to look at the times immediately following the New Testament, when the faith was lived intensely and the church was growing. The Archdeacon called to mind the prayer of humble access that “we may evermore dwell in him and he in us” and said that reform, renewal and evangelism cannot bypass the Lord’s Supper. The Archdeacon spoke of the need to be aware of the language and words we use. Words change over the years and can sometimes be misunderstood. In our modern culture of 24/7 rolling news everything is explicit. This is different in the worship of the church. We meet and experience God in many ways: in symbol, in metaphor, in poetry, in the use of space, in colour, in sound and in silence, in gesture and in music. These are ways of transporting people to experiencing God more clearly and more dearly. Art can be a tool of evangelism that goes beyond language. For example, an art exhibition held a few years ago in London. called “Seeing Salvation”, changed the lives of many people. The Archdeacon concluded by giving an example of a place where he had seen prayerful discernment and listening working in practice. He told us about Llanfair Penrhys, in the Rhondda Valley, in Wales. There the church is alive because in 1992 they first listened to what was needed in this deprived and battered community. Now when people say they are going to church they may be going to the launderette, the crèche for working mothers, the coffee bar, the ‘nearly new’ clothing shop or they may be going to worship. The needs were provided for and now they have a thriving church community.
Evangelism (the initial proclamation of the faith)
The second session was a choice between two workshops. One was on ‘Apologetics’ and was led by Rev. Andrew Gready, from The Hague. The other, which I attended, was on ‘Evangelism’ and was led by Rev. Sunny Hallanan, an Episcopal priest from Waterloo. The General Synod report says that the discipline of evangelism (or the initial proclamation of the faith) is the habit and practice of sowing the seed of the gospel in the lives of those who have not yet heard its life-giving message. It goes on to say that the Scriptures are clear that some are gifted as evangelists. However Christian disciples are called to bear witness, to be ready to give account for the hope which is in us. One of the major challenges for a church in mission is the equipping of all of its members to bear witness to their faith in the home, the workplace and the wider community. Rev. Sunny Hallanan, introduced the workshop by saying that evangelism is about good news. Our world is full of bad news. How do we offer good news to people? During the discussion Sunny recommended, as a resource, a book called ‘Take this bread’ written by Sara Miles. It is a true story of a woman who, raised as an atheist, one day wandered into a church, ate a piece of bread and took a sip of wine. A routine Sunday activity for many people - except up to that moment she had led a secular life, indifferent to religion. It was her first communion and it changed everything. Eating Jesus, as she puts it, led her against all her expectations to a faith and work that she had never imagined. I was impressed by the story and I have proposed to use this book for our Lent course at St. Mary’s this year. By the time you read this the Lent course will be underway so some of you will now be familiar with the book.
Catechesis (teaching and learning faith)
After a short break for lunch the third session, was again a choice between two workshops. One was on ‘Ecclesial formation’ led by Rev. Stephen Murray (Ghent) the Area Dean of Belgium and Luxembourg. The other, which I attended, was on ‘Catechesis’ led by Rev. Sam Van Leer (Groningen), the Area Dean of the Netherlands. The General Synod report says that the discipline of catechesis is that of teaching and learning faith and especially teaching the faith to those preparing for baptism (and confirmation) and those who have been recently baptized as they grow into mature discipleship. Catechesis of adults and children and young people is absolutely critical to the growth of the church. It is the discipline through which new disciples are formed and take their place in the life and witness of the Christian community. In this workshop we began by looking at a passage of scripture (Acts 8:30-31), where Phillip asks the official ‘Do you understand what you are reading’ and he replies ‘How can I understand unless someone teaches me?’ We answered some questions on the passage and then Sam spoke about Catechesis and how our faith is a life-long process of learning. There are four stages of faith development: (1) experienced faith, characteristic of babyhood and infancy, (2) affiliative faith, characteristic of childhood, (3) searching faith, as the search to think it out for oneself is undertaken, and lastly (4) owned faith. Sam gave us several handouts including a comparison of the various courses that are available such as Alpha, Christianity Explored, Emmaus and several others. There was not enough time to cover all the material but we were able to look at some questions for group discussion, which included ‘From whom do you first learn about the Christian faith and how?’, ‘What does the habit of teaching and learning the faith look like in the context of your chaplaincy?’ and ‘What is needed to deepen and extend the work of catechesis?’ These are all good questions to think about.
Planting and forming new ecclesial communities (fresh expressions of church)
The fourth session was also a choice between two workshops. One was on Incarnational mission’ led by Jeremy Heuslein, the Outreach Worker at Holy Trinity Brussels. The other, which I attended, was on ‘Fresh expressions of church’ led by Nathan Joss, a Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES) intern at Holy Trinity Brussels. The General Synod report says the discipline of planting and forming new ecclesial (i.e. church) communities is rooted in the earliest days of the New Testament Church. This has slowly been recovered in the Church of England through the church planting movement, Mission-Shaped church and the development of fresh expressions of church. In the UK the growth in fresh expressions of church over the last decade has been remarkable. The fresh expressions website (www.freshexpressions.org.uk) explains that a fresh expression of church is a new gathering or network that engages mainly with people who have never been to church. There is no single model, but the emphasis is on starting something which is appropriate to its context. Over 3,000 of these new forms of church now exist in almost every denomination in the UK. Fresh expressions of church serve those outside church; listen to people and enter their context; make discipleship a priority, journeying with people to Jesus; and they form a church. At Synod we heard that fresh expressions of church are missional, contextual, formational and ecclesial. In the workshop Nathan explained that we need to think about context. What do the people need in order to hear the message? We need to meet people where they are. Nathan spoke about a number of examples of fresh expressions including ‘Messy Church’, which is very popular in the UK. This is a form of church for children and adults that involves creativity, celebration and hospitality. It meets at a time and place that suits people who do not already belong to church. It includes a creative time with some kind of craft to explore the biblical theme; it has a celebration time involving story, prayer, song, games and it includes a meal together. This workshop gave me a better idea of what a fresh expression of church is all about.
The last session gave the opportunity for participants to talk about what they had gained from the workshops and how they might be able to use this in their own situations. The Archdeaconry Mission Day finished after a time of prayer together before everyone began their journey home.
Archdeaconry Synod 2014 - 2 to 4 October in Drongen
Part one by Joyce Wigboldus
The venue of Synod was again this year the beautiful Old Abbey in Drongen, near Ghent in Belgium. It was built as a Norbertine monastery in the 12th century and became a Jesuit training centre in the middle of the 19th century. For a number of years it was a conference centre. We worshipped in the Ruusbroec chapel, named after the great mystic in the South Netherlands in the 14th century. The old abbot’s house is still a residence for retired priests. This Archidiaconal Synod was chaired by Acting Archdeacon Meurig Williams. Our archdeaconry of North West Europe consists of the countries Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Together with six other archdeaconries we form the Diocese of Europe. Archdeacon Williams has visited St Mary’s Weldam twice in the past few years.
Synod has a very tight timetable. Every day starts with Morning Prayer and closes with Evening Prayer and/or Compline. Usually a wide variety of different types of services are used. This time we once used the 1662 BCP Evensong, but also a Compline liturgy from the Iona Community! Plenary sessions alternate with group discussions and meetings of the Houses of Clergy and Laity on procedural matters. This year new Chairs for both Houses had to be elected, as well as a new representative for the Netherlands Laity to the Archdeaconry Synod Standing Committee. These were duly elected: the Revd Andrew Gready (the Hague) and Peter Woodward (Arnhem-Nijmegen) as the respective Chairs, and Ms Sandra Sue (Utrecht) as representative of the Netherlands Laity.
The main sessions were: the Luwero Link review on Thursday; the Bishop’s address; sharing news from the chaplaincies; the Mission Working Party report; the report from the Diocesan Secretary, Mr Adrian Mumford; an update on the July General Synod; a reflection on prayer by the Dean, the Very Revd John Paddock from Gibraltar, on Friday; and finally the Business Meeting and the AGM of the Anglican Council for the Netherlands on Saturday. Simone Yallop, our Twente Secretary, was asked to take the minutes of the Business Meeting, and a summary will appear the next issue of St Mary’s Magazine.
As you probably remember, there has been a twinning link between our archdeaconry and the province of Luwero in Uganda for 10 years. Things were not going entirely according to plan, although there was huge input into the project via the Healthy Vine Trust and church members in the Hague (Jay and Pam Dennett). There existed some doubt about the feasibility of the link and thus Synod commissioned a report on the Luwero twinning last year. This Report on a Review was duly drawn up by the Revd Canon Max Oxbrow. He is international director of the Faith2Share organization* and performed this research in a neutral capacity as an adviser. Canon Oxbrow conducted interviews by telephone, sent out many questionnaires, and visited the province of Luweero and Bishop Evans of Luwero. The report goes into great detail concerning all aspects and figures of the twinning and the outcome of the interviews and the questionnaires. At both ends the twinning was appreciated by the interviewees, but less than a third of the questionnaires were returned, and this third originated from only 10 parishes. So only a small number of parishes appeared to have been involved in the Healthy Vine and the twinning. Therefore Archdeacon Meurig asked Synod what we were going to do: (1) end the project in a proper way, (2) continue on the present level and form a committee of three both sides, with a Twinning Oversight Group (TOG) monitoring proceedings in the next 12 months, or (3) invest more in the project. An animated, sometimes heated, discussion followed (as many said, the most animated discussion about the project ever) and a vote followed. It appeared that the majority of Synod members wanted to continue on the same level. Archdeacon Meurig decided that Synod would sleep on it and take a final decision the following day. When the subject was resumed the next day, we had a final vote on option 2: none was against, there were a few abstentions, and a great majority voted to continue the link on the present level. One of the three people who came forward to form the TOG was our Chaplain Alja.
Address of Our New Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
This was the highlight of Synod. As the Revd Canon Dr Robert Innes, Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity Brussels, had attended our Synod many times, his face was well-known! Bishop Robert was consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral on 20th July, formally instituted in Gibraltar on 4th September, and addressed us on the eve of his installation in St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta, on 4th October. He explained that he discerns three main tasks for a bishop: first representing the diocese, second looking after his diocese, and third sharing and communicating with other bishops. He vividly described the circumstances of his appointment and consecration and installation, told us which meetings he had attended so far, and then outlined several strands of vision: our churches must be healthy places of authentic worship, not club- or NGO-like; worship must be of good quality and consistent − never mind the different types of worship; churches must be flexible and open to young people and children (safeguarding is important, and there must be training for leaders); churches must involve lay people, stimulate growth and be intentional to discipleship; churches must be welcoming and invitational; and last but not least, poor people must be supported, as also advocated by Pope Francis.
Sharing News Around the Chaplaincies
This is usually a most interesting part of Synod, as one hears what is going on in other chaplaincies. This year we heard from the Revd Stephen Murray from St George’s Knokke/St John’s Ghent, who told us that his Ghent congregation will presently move into large, beautiful, but quite inhabitable St Elisabeth’s, provided by the Belgian authorities. The Revd Brian Llewellyn from Ypres felt half of the time more like a film impresario than a chaplain (the centenary of World War I this year!). He was besieged by television crews and visitors, with only a small congregation in beautiful St George’s on Sundays. Mrs Diana Dammer from Haarlem told us about their main asset: the excellent church choir. The Revd Ruan Crew from Voorschoten told of successful outreach and growth. Canon Simon Tyndall reported from St Paul’s Tervueren, which used to be a wealthy, heavily British community, but is now changing into a more international congregation. St Paul’s would love to be connected with a newly established Anglican church in Eastern Europe. Finally Adriaan Los, Churchwarden at Utrecht, reported that Holy Trinity is bursting with challenges and talents. The electoral roll has doubled and there are now two services on Sunday mornings, there is Evensong and a Prayer Service, and spoken Communion on Wednesdays. A new students’ coordinator has been appointed and there was a successful away-day with the entire congregation.
Mission Working Party Report
We were updated on the Working Party by the Revd Mark Collinson, Area Dean of the Netherlands. The Strategic Review Group within the Working Party produced a strategic report in 2011 on the aspects of growth on the basis of an in-depth sociological study “Where do English-speaking people live?”. He also reported on new opportunities to study Anglican Theology in Leuven, Brussels (will start in 2015), and Amsterdam (VU). A sub-committee has almost finished a translation of Holy Communion into Dutch. If successful, Morning Prayer, the Baptism and Funeral Service will follow. There was some discussion whether these translations would be appreciated by Dutch-speaking congregation members.
Report from Mr Adrian Mumford, the Diocesan Secretary
Mr Mumford explained to us the tasks of a diocesan secretary. His province is “order in the church”. The issues he deals with include: (1) Safeguarding. A very important electronic training programme called the Chelmsford Report has been set up for clergy, churchwardens and Sunday School teachers. It will be piloted in the next few weeks. (2) Communications. The European Anglican is published by the Diocesan Office, and also the website and several apps. (3) The database. A new database of the Church of England is being rolled out centrally. (4) Discussions on IT strategy for the Diocese (5) The organization of General Synod and Diocesan Synod (6) Legal and financial changes connected with the moving of the Bishop’s office to Brussels, while the Diocesan Office remains in London. Communication with the church commissioners regarding financial matters.
Update on July General Synod
This was presented by Ann Turner. By far the most important subject this time, of course, was “Women in the Episcopate”. It was an exhausting session of four days. Every speaker who wished to do so was allowed to speak on the subject, which meant 150 people speaking. This lasted for 6.5 hours (2 to 3 minutes per person on average). In all three Houses, the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity, the required two-thirds majority was carried.
A Reflection on Prayer
This was given by the Dean, the Very Revd John Paddock of Holy Trinity, Gibraltar. He spoke very movingly on the strength of prayer and the all-importance of listening and the language of silence. His great example is the medieval St Teresa of Avila, who wrote The Interior Castle in 1277**. After the sessions Holy Communion was celebrated by the Dean, followed by drinks and the formal Synod dinner. Then we all participated in a general quiz, hilariously led by the Area Dean of Belgium, the Revd Andrew Wagstaff. The evening ended with Compline.
Archdeaconry Synod Report (Part 2)
By Simone Yallop
This report follows on from the first part of the Archdeaconry Synod Report given by Joyce Wigboldus in the November 2014 issue of the magazine. The Archdeaconry Synod is a gathering of clergy and lay representatives from all the Anglican chaplaincies in the Archdeaconry of North West Europe, which covers the Benelux countries, being the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Our archdeaconry is one of the seven archdeaconries of the Diocese in Europe. The Archdeaconry Synod began on Thursday 2nd October at 16:00 and lasted until about 13:30 on Saturday 4th October. It was held in the Oude Abdij van Drongen near Gent in Belgium. Our Chaplain Alja Tollefsen attended, as well as Joyce Wigboldus and myself as Archdeaconry Representatives. The report from Joyce covers the events of the Thursday and Friday and my report covers the events of the Saturday. The Saturday began with a service of Morning Prayer in the chapel led by the Area Dean, the Revd Canon Mark Collinson from Amsterdam. After breakfast it was time for the Business Meeting. Again this year I was asked by the Archdeacon to take the minutes of the Business Meeting. The meeting was chaired by Lay Canon Mrs Ann Turner. The meeting followed the usual pattern and was opened by the Archdeacon, the agenda was approved, and my minutes of last year were accepted. There were no matters arising from the minutes because, as the Chair explained, some of the areas of last year’s meeting could not be revisited. Last year there was a question-and-answer session with Bishop Geoffrey, who has now retired, so it was not possible or appropriate to revisit that. Also the Standing Committee had addressed the issues raised last year about Synod and had made appropriate changes to the programme for this year. Last year during the Business Meeting there had been discussion regarding the review of the Luweero twinning arrangement. This was addressed in the sessions on the Thursday and Friday of this Synod, as you can read in Joyce’s report. Therefore this was not further discussed in the Business Meeting other than to say that this has been dealt with well and we now have a way of moving forward. This way forward is the establishment of a Twinning Oversight Group (TOG) for North West Europe with three members who will address the recommendations of the 2014 review report.
The Chair then handed over to the Treasurer, Mr David Sayers, for the financial part of the meeting. With 2014 being an election year for Archdeaconry Representatives there were a lot of new members at Synod this year. For their benefit the Treasurer gave a short explanation of his tasks in the Archdeaconry. Starting with this meeting the Treasurer has to present a Common Fund budget figure for acceptance at Synod. Once agreed a share is calculated for each chaplaincy based on the quotas calculated at the Diocesan Office in London. The Treasurer then has to collect this money from each chaplaincy, together with the CME (Continuing Ministerial Education) contribution. Then the Treasurer has to pay the bills that come in, pay the CME grants that the Archdeacon instructs him to pay, he does the book keeping, he has the accounts examined by a third party to make sure they are correct, he makes reports to the Standing Committee and to this Synod and then the process starts all over again. To give an idea of the numbers, the Common Fund budget, over the past few years, has been €15,000. The CME contribution is calculated at €225 per clergy head and €150 per lay reader head in each chaplaincy. The CME contribution is about €7,500 per year coming in. About €4,000 per year is paid out in CME grants. That means that each year the size of the CME fund continues to grow and currently stands at €31,500. The money is also used to fund the conferences that are held in Cologne, costing about €12,000. This Synod costs about €13,500 and at the end of this year there will probably be €32,000 of net assets in the bank account.
During the Business Meeting there were a number of questions raised about the CME fund and how it should be used. The questions were answered by the Archdeacon, the Treasurer and the Chair. CME is part of the clergy terms and conditions of service, therefore it is not possible to reduce the contribution that has to be made by the chaplaincies. Applications for CME grants can be made to the Archdeacon by clergy and readers. The Archdeacon considers each application carefully and may ask a number of questions before approving the application. A proposal was made from the floor for the Standing Committee to look at the amount in the CME fund and set an annual figure that can be applied for by clergy and readers. This proposal was put to the vote. There were 12 in favour, 25 against and 8 abstentions so the proposal was defeated. The Treasurer proposed that the Common Fund budget figure would be set again this year to €15,000. A vote was taken. There were 51 in favour, 0 against and 1 abstention. The motion was carried and the Treasurer was given a mandate to carry on. At the end of the discussion on finance, a request was made from the floor to look into ways of using some of the large amount of money in the CME fund for training of the laity.
The next item on the agenda was for the Archdeacon to give some information about the Bishop’s Office. The Archdeacon said that on May 6th 2014 we learned that Canon Robert Innes was to be our new diocesan bishop and that his office would be located for the first time within the geographical territory of our diocese. This has led to a number of changes. Firstly, the previous Bishop’s Office in Worth, West Sussex, is now closed. The office staff have moved to new posts. Secondly, Bishop Robert is now installed in the new office in Brussels (47, rue Capitaine Crespel - boite 49, 1050 Brussels, Belgium). Bishop Robert’s Personal Assistant is Mrs Vela Palim and the contact details are on the diocesan website. The Brussels office will be Bishop Robert’s main base and is where he will usually see people and for people to meet with him. Thirdly, the bishop has a second base in Church House, Westminster, the Church of England’s headquarters in London. He will travel to London to meet with staff in the Diocesan Office and he will be able to meet people there. Fourthly, what about the Bishop’s Chaplain, who is also the Acting Archdeacon of North West Europe? The Archdeacon said that for the moment, as far as where he lives is concerned, there is no change and he is continuing to live in the Chaplain’s House in Sussex. With the range of IT options now available Bishop Robert and his Chaplain can keep in very close touch. The Archdeacon said he travels to Brussels regularly and he meets the bishop in Brussels or London or wherever they happen to be. This arrangement is sustainable for the medium term but is not viable for the long term. The Archdea con said that as soon as there is any change or development he will let us know. (The postal address for the Archdeacon is the address of the Brussels office given above.)
The Archdeacon then went on to talk about Bishop Robert’s plans to meet the people. The Archdeacon said Bishop Robert is keen to get to know the diocese. He has hit the ground running and is keen to get to know the clergy and the people who worship in our churches and chaplaincies. He is keen to see the diverse approaches to mission throughout the diocese. He wants to be an affirming presence and a real source of support and encouragement. He does expect to receive invites to the chaplaincies but not all at once. He wants to come to preach the Gospel and to administer the sacraments of the church. Also he wants to engage with questions on the ground, so when he comes to visit it would be good for him to spend some time with the church council, perhaps to meet with local ecumenical representatives and then of course to have a celebration of confirmation or confirmation with baptism, usually in a Sunday morning service. (In our case at St Mary’s that is going to happen very soon on 7th December.) Since Bishop Robert was previously chaplain in Brussels he knows what ministry in the Diocese in Europe is all about. The Archdeacon said that Bishop Robert knows the church here well. He knows of our great hopes and aspirations for the church of God. The Archdeacon asked us to pray for the diocese and for Bishop Robert that under God we go from strength to strength.
There were no further items under any other business. The Chair informed the meeting that the Archdeaconry Synod will be held next time again at the Oude Abdij in Drongen and since it has to be booked two years in advance the new dates are 8th to 10th October 2015 and 13th to 15th October 2016.
The Business Meeting was finished sooner than expected so the AGM of the Anglican Council in the Netherlands (ACNL) was brought forward from the afternoon. It started directly after the Business Meeting. The meeting was chaired by the Area Dean, who explained that the ACNL was formed in 2010 in order for us to have a legal identity in the Netherlands. This allows us to operate under the legal and fiscal regulations in this country. Also it enables us to relate as a single body to the national churches and to the Dutch government. This is a relatively new development in the life of the Archdeaconry. At the meeting the reports from the ACNL Executive Committee were presented and accepted. The ACNL Executive Committee members include Revd Canon Mark Collinson (Chair), Ms Sandra Sue (Treasurer), Revd Sam Van Leer (Secretary) and Mr Jan de Beij (CIO representative). The ACNL has been doing a lot of work in legal registration. Jan de Beij goes to meetings of the CIO (Interkerkelijk Contact in Overheidszaken), which is the body through which the churches in the Netherlands communicate with the government. Sam Van Leer is the representative on the national council of churches and is also on their standing committee representing the Episcopal churches. The ACNL has been developing communications and has as website www.anglican.nl, which has links to the websites of all the Anglican chaplaincies in the Netherlands. Sandra Sue manages the finances of the ACNL. The contributions for the ACNL are collected from the chaplaincies by the Treasurer of the Archdeaconry and are passed on to the Treasurer of the ACNL. As mentioned last year the ACNL are still looking for people to help in the areas of personnel and communications. The ACNL meets about four times a year, during the day, in Utrecht. The Area Dean drew attention to the part of the ACNL annual report that contains guidelines for tax-efficient giving for Dutch tax payers.
The ACNL meeting was followed by the Synod Eucharist, with the Archdeacon as Celebrant and Preacher. The service was conducted partly in English and partly in Dutch. The Archdeaconry Synod finished after lunch on the Saturday afternoon. It had been a very interesting Synod, which I enjoyed attending.
Archdeaconry Report 2013 - 10 to 12 October, part 1
At the beginning of this report it may be useful to repeat the purpose and values of the North West Europe Archdeaconry Synod (Benelux countries) as written in 2005, when it was established that “the Archdeaconry Synod has the following legal purpose:
to conduct the legal requirements of electing clerical and lay representatives to Diocesan and General Synods and to conduct the business of our corporate archidiaconal life and mission.” And:
“In addition to these we seek to: engage with the major issues facing the Church of England; be inspired, equipped and encouraged to further the mission of the church in our local setting and maintain an ecumenical dimension.”
Finally: “We aim to achieve these purposes by having a Synod once a year in which we:
enjoy fellowship with one another, worship together, have stimulating input, engage in discussion with one another, produce an output (i.e. do something together in the Synod itself or which we can take home to our chaplaincies), use the arts as a means of expressing who we are and what we believe and celebrate our corporate life and what God is doing among us.”
Well, we tried to do most of these things in the beautifully restored monastery De Oude Abdij van Drongen, near Ghent in Belgium. Simone Yallop, Secretary of our church council, replaced Caroline Siertsema, who had to go to South Africa to attend to her mother. During Synod many subjects were dealt with in five sessions and we attended three Eucharist services and one Evening Prayer. I’ll try to give you the most relevant news in chronological order.
On Thursday afternoon Acting Archdeacon the Revd Canon Meurig Williams in the chair opened Synod and invited a number of Chaplains to come forward to share their news informally and truthfully.
Quite a novum at Synod! Among Chaplains from Brussels, Tervuren, the Hague, Ypres and Rotterdam, our Chaplain Alja Tollefsen shared good news, but also concerns. In many chaplaincies there is spiritual growth; new Alpha courses are set up; at the universities of Leuven and Brussels courses (in Anglican history, texts, doctrine, sacraments, spirituality, ethics, mission and in Anglican religious education) have been started; and even a Church of England primary school, St Paul’s, has been founded in Brussels! The Chaplain in Rotterdam reported a wealth of volunteers in the Missions to Seamen.
Concerns shared were of a varying nature, such as shortage of staff, financial tightness, dwindling numbers and congregations in which certain people felt hurt. Alja told the audience she had only been in office for 17 months and that there are many things to be thankful for - a happy congregation and positive outlook in Twente - but that there is less hopeful news from Arnhem-Nijmegen. She asked Synod to pray for improvement in the situation. In the evening Canon Dr Jack McDonald from Leuven (also professor at the universities of Leuven and Brussels) and lay reader David Fieldsend from Brussels informed the audience about the impending procedure to elect a new Bishop, as Bishop Geoffrey will retire in November. It is a complicated procedure whereby first the needs of the Diocese are determined and the gifts and qualities are identified which the next Bishop is likely to need.
The Vacancy in – See Committee, which consists of the Standing Committee of the Diocesan Synod, together with the diocesan members of the General Synod, plays an important role in the preparation of the selection of the candidates. Finally our Bishop, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, will be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and a third Bishop nominated by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Archbishop of Lokoja in Nigeria. The entire procedure will at least take nine months.
The next session was about the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. The Revd Chris Lyon (Luxembourg), who was to report on this subject could not be present however, so a short explanation of the current state of affairs with regard to this issue was given by the Revd Canon Robert Innes (Brussels). We ended the day with the Eucharist, celebrated by Acting Archdeacon Canon Meurig Williams.
On Friday we started again with the Eucharist, celebrated this time by the Revd Canon Mark Collinson. The morning presentation was given by the Revd Dr Keith Clements from Bristol. He spoke in a very inspiring way on The Church and Europe. He started most unusually by comparing religion in Europe with an empty chocolate box. We keep it because it is beautiful, but there is nothing inside. He mentioned migration and secularization as great influences on the “inherited church” in Europe. He discerned “believing” and “belonging”. People in the inherited church may feel they belong, but really do not believe any more, and just cherish beautiful churches and music.
There are also many people these days who believe in God but do not belong to a church. Dr Clements quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said that both types are necessary and need each other. A new type of Christianity is emerging: in Europe people are learning how to be the church for all the people, ecumenically, not nationally. He ended with the question: how does this work in your church? And he advised, don’t make assumptions and just be there to accompany people spiritually.
The next session was a report from the Mission Working Party (MWP). This MWP was set up at the Archdeaconry Synod in 2010 and originally had a twofold purpose: first to embrace the changes as proposed by the Diocese in funding four full-time free-standing Archdeacons in Europe instead of seven Archdeacons who combine their office with chaplaincy duties (more about this in Simone’s report about the business meeting on the Saturday); and second to implement the recommendations of the General Synod Report Mission-shaped Church (2004) in the countries of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. This is the third MWP Report since 2010. During the past year four contributors have written a paper called “Developing a vision for Anglican Ministry in Europe” .
Each contributor works out an aspect of the strategy to shape and resource the Church’s mission in every diocese and parish. Robert Innes writes on the tension between individuals and society in religious thinking; Jack McDonald charts some of the ways in which the Anglican tradition has grappled with contextualization (i.e. adaptation to the society in which the church is situated); Sam Van Leer describes the complicated relation between Church and culture (especially in Western society since the 19th century), using several model theories; and finally Mark Collinson relates various practical parish experiences, mentioning especially ecumenical and diaconal realities.
During the past year the MWP focused mainly on two areas: theological education and the translation of some liturgical services. A general need is felt to have translations of the principal services, to make the liturgy more accessible to native Dutch speakers. Jack McDonald told us more about the two theological university courses started in Leuven and Brussels, and Miriam Adan, member of the Translation sub-group, reported on the progress of the translation of the Funeral Service, Baptism Service, Marriage Service and Holy Communion Prayer B.
As a test we used parts of these translations in the services during Synod. Quite an unusual experience to hear our Chaplain Alja speak Dutch in a service! Simone and myself each have a copy of these translations and anybody who is interested is invited to borrow them from us. It is by no means a definite version. Comments are welcomed.
On Friday afternoon we were divided into groups for an excursion into the city of Ghent. We visited the ruins of Sint Bataaf’s Abdij on the original site where Ghent was founded, and then after a pleasant walk through the beautiful medieval centre of Ghent we saw the famous painting by Jan Van Eyck, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, in St Bataaf’s Cathedral. The presentation at the end of the afternoon, with concluding reflections on all sessions, was missed by our group due to heavy traffic in the centre - so alas we cannot report on this!
Bishop Geoffrey arrived just before the Synod Dinner and was to attend Synod to the end. Dinner in the Old Abbey on Friday evening was, as usual, a great occasion for fellowship and sharing the Christian spirit. And there was also a great deal of laughter!
We felt blessed when we went home on Saturday morning. Simone remained, having been asked by the Archdeacon to take minutes at the business meeting that day.
Archdeaconry Report - part 2
This item follows on from the Archdeaconry Report given in the November issue of the magazine by Joyce Wigboldus. As Joyce mentioned in her report both she and our Chaplain Alja had to leave the Archdeaconry Synod on the Saturday morning due to other commitments. I stayed on to attend the meetings arranged for the Saturday and because I had been asked by the Archdeacon to take the minutes of the business meeting. I will produce a more detailed report later once I have completed the minutes but this is a short item just for the magazine.
The Saturday morning began with an additional meeting that had been inserted before the business meeting. This was a panel discussion on the Luweero twinning. For some years the Diocese in Europe has been twinned with the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda and this twinning has been minded by our Archdeaconry. The people who originally set up the twinning arrangement have now moved on. The Archdeaconry is now at a point that it needs to evaluate the way forward. Therefore a proposal has been made to commission a consultant to evaluate the twinning and propose a way forward. During the panel discussion the history of the twinning link was given and Synod members were given the opportunity to ask questions concerning the proposed evaluation. This gave everyone the necessary background before the vote would be taken at the business meeting on whether to go ahead and commission the consultancy work.
The Luweero panel discussion was immediately followed by the business meeting, during which the resolution was passed that Synod approves a review of the Luweero link by Mark Oxbrow with a report to Synod in 2014. The main item of the business meeting was a question and answer session with the Bishop. During this session Bishop Geoffrey explained the recent developments regarding the proposal to have free standing Archdeacons. As mentioned on the Diocesan website the allocation of funding for the diocese from the Church Commissioners, agreed by the Archbishop’s council recently at their meeting in September, amounted to £84,000. The Bishop said that we welcome this because it is the first time that we have in shared in the allocation of funding from the Church Commissioners. In order to be able to do that there had to be a change in the law of the land, a measure of General Synod, approved by Parliament and receiving royal assent. Unfortunately the amount of £84,000 is so far below the one third of a million pounds per year that was asked for that it is impossible to take forward the plan for free standing Archdeacons that was proposed. The Bishop said that if it had been £200,000 we could have considered creative ways to take things forward. Bishop Geoffrey explained what will happen now, which will be to continue with our existing pattern of Archdeacons, some of whom are serving in an ‘Acting’ role.
The business meeting was followed by the Synod Eucharist with Bishop Geoffrey as Celebrant and Preacher. It was a wonderful service and the closing hymn was one with words that had been written by Bishop Geoffrey himself.
After lunch it was time for the Annual General Meetings of the Anglican Council for Belgium (ACB) and the Anglican Council for the Netherlands (AKIN). These two meetings took place at the same time in different meeting rooms. As one would expect I attended the AGM for the Anglican Council for the Netherlands. The meeting was chaired by the Area Dean and it covered a number of things that are important for us in the Netherlands.
There are two items to bring to your attention. The first is that the Anglican Council for the Netherlands now has its own website www.anglican.nl and we are requested to make a link to it from our own website. The second thing is that the Executive Committee has two vacancies, which we are asked to advertise.
One of these vacancies concerns communications. Various items of information sometimes need circulating following a meeting of the Executive Committee. They need someone who is a clear communicator in written English, and who can also update the website.
The other vacancy concerns personnel. They need someone who can give clear guidance to churchwardens, clergy and treasurers about the various employment options, the tax implications of remuneration and benefits, and who can administer the pension scheme. Should anyone be suitably qualified and interested in either of these positions please contact me (Simone Yallop) for further details.
The Archdeaconry Synod finished at about 15:30 on the Saturday afternoon after what had been a very interesting and enjoyable few days.
Archdeaconry Synod 11-13 October 2012 at Vaalbeek, Belgium
This year Chris Los and Maggie Vermeij –Saulters represented the chaplaincy Arnhem/Nijmegen. It is my intention to give a short version of subjects mentioned at the synod. I choose to cover these in various points which are not connected to the time-table of the synod.
1) Anglican Studies in Belgium
This talk was given by the Revd. Jack McDonald, canon theologian to the Archdeaconry Synod on theological education in the archdeaconry There is much interest from KU Leuven to offer courses in Anglican studies with the possibility of having a chair in Anglican Studies. The university would like to appoint a candidate as long as the costs were kept to a minimum.
In Belgium all parents are obliged to enrol their children in religious education at school. In view of this there is an Anglican religious education Committee (ARE) already set up, offering teachers a 20hour free course at Holy Trinity. This includes instruction on Anglicanism, Anglican history, thinking, theology and prayer. In addition to this Anglicans together with the Roman Catholics hope to offer, under the heading of “ Théocafé”, a Public Theology Project, an interdenominational 5 session course in early 2013 aimed at anyone interested in Christian approaches to public life.
Lastly, the Revd. Jack McDonald informed us of the gift, given by the widow of Guy Fitch Lytle of 14,000 volumes, to the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit Leuven(ETF) .This library called the Lytle Library is a substantial Anglican library on the continent second only to the one based in Rome and will be very valuable for research.
2) An update from Luweero
Mrs.Thea Price gave us a quick update of various new projects in Luweero our twin chaplaincy in Uganda, such as tree planting, the building of a youth house and transport for lay readers in the form of motor bikes and cycles.
The Healthy Vine Organisation told us of their programme to promote good hygiene practices which is further encouraged by the supply of bed nets against the spread of malaria. Other projects include the setting up of health centres, the increase in pig breeding and milk production and the growing of coffee, oranges and mangos.
The emphasis was on the need for funding in order to carry out these projects.
On Friday morning a talk was given by The Revd. Paul Needle, the Communications Officer for the diocese. He noted points of interest and points to ponder about our methods of communication. He emphasised the importance of first impressions regarding publicity sheets, church notice sheets and church magazines. There should be attention paid to design and lay-out and the writing style should be consistent and appealing.
He went on to give a good tip about security when writing emails. If possible send it to your own address and send the rest via BCC. This offers some protection to those receiving emails. When writing emails it is important to be precise and sensible, perhaps establishing a code of conduct. A cautionary note was mentioned in the use of blogs, tweets and facebook.
To sum up, all publicity should be attractive and appealing. In public it is important to think before we speak, do not lie or fidget if on the radio or on television. Prepare for a public appearance by knowing all the necessary facts. Matters of utmost importance can be taken to the Diocesan Office which aims to give round the clock availability. It is important that the Bishop, Area Dean, Archdeacon and the Communications Officer are warned as soon as possible if a serious matter is about to become an item of public interest.
4) The Revd. Philip North entitled his session on Friday morning, ”How we can present ourselves as a confident Church - Living Stones, Living Lights – in an age of crisis?”
The session started with a passage of Luke 5: 1-11 In the deep waters of the Sea of Galilee, representing a moment of deep crisis in our lives when things are tough, we hear the voice of Jesus which endows us with confidence.It makes the time of crisis a time of faith.
In this passage of Luke when Jesus told the fishermen to throw out their nets and they pulled in the full net of fish their confidence grew and they believed in him. As followers of Christ we come together as a community , alone we are useless, together we are strong and more confident. We receive forgiveness and are called to serve; we come to look more outside ourselves and come to depend more and more on God.
In our secular society we are overcome by the financial and environmental crisis, the collapse of the family and the breakdown of religious values which all accumulates in the growth of fear and it overwhelms us. Our faith offers us opportunities of doing things differently. We are called to be ready for the coming kingdom of God ,illustrated in the story of the bride-groom and the maids with the lamps.
The Church appears to be in crisis, the infrastructure of the Church has disappeared over the last 100 years. It was at this point that the Revd. North asks if we could be on a path leading to new growth? He poses the question of how we can stay confident in our faith?
By way of an answer he relates how in the past the Church has shown the ability to survive. The Church did so in the 7th century, in the Francis revival, in the time of the Reformation and Counter Reformation, with the Evangelical revival and in the more recent charismatic movement.
He went on to use the life of St. Vincent de Paul as an illustration. He was not an easy man but it was said of him “Deep in his heart he walked with God”. In two life changing events, as a slave freed by the slave owner when St. Vincent converted him back to the faith and secondly when he was able to convert a dying man who died in terrible poverty.
He decided to devote the rest of his life in serving the poor. He enlisted the help of women in the cloisters and reformed the training of the clergy. It became known as the French school and directly influenced the Oxford movement.
On looking at the life of St. Vincent 4 aspects can be highlighted:-
a) Personal renewal, we “must be clothed in the spirit of Christ” and this leads in turn to a renewal in our confidence. It grows with the passion of our faith.
b) Authenticity of our worship, Our worship each Sunday should be meaningful and authentic, practising what we preach and including bible study and prayer . We should worship with joy and confidence.
c) We need a real vocation, a deep love for the poor and needy.
It should not be as Nietzsche said, “Show me your redeemed and I will follow your redeemer”.
d) Leadership in the form of a competent and proficient clergy, passionate about their vocation. St. Vincent had used ordinary people, we are all called to be witnesses to Christ.
On a personal note for everyone he said that it is in our encounter with other people and in our personal prayer and study that we can support each other and give of ourselves to others. Then we can come to experience the richness of Christ.
A few notes of interest from the business meeting which was held on Saturday morning.
1) Last year we were introduced to the signing of the Covenant – an agreement or promise which binds two parties together. In the Synod of 2011 we had voted for signing but unfortunately not every diocese did so and the matter is still being considered by the Bishops- Providences
2) Work is still in progress on the translation of parts of Common Worship into Dutch. The final draft is almost ready for use. It is important that weddings, funerals and baptisms can be conducted in Dutch .Once the final draft is ready it will go Bishop Geoffrey and then on to the House of Bishops for official approval.
3) In an answer from the Standing Archdeacon Meurig Williams about 4 free standing Archdeacons in the Diocese of Europe, the Synod was informed that there are not sufficient funds to finance the 4 free standing Archdeacons. A formal approach will be made to the Church Commissioners in the 2014-2016 budget. It is hoped that we will be informed in 2013. It would also be made known where they will be based and how they will be paid.
4) A proposal for funding the Diocese of Luweero by giving them €3.000 per annum from the Common Fund was passed by the Synod.
Finally there was the AGM of the Anglican Council for the Netherlands late on Saturday morning.
Points of interest are:-
1) The New Diocesan Policy called “Safeguarding” was introduced. Everyone working with the vulnerable such as young children should be aware and comply to the proper procedures.
2) Currently the Anglican Church for the Netherlands is in the process of joining the PGGM pension scheme. The Old Catholics have already joined up to this pension scheme and as an historic church we hope to be able to do so.
3) It was pointed out to us at this meeting that all members of the church in a position of responsibility are requested to sign a form in which they declare that they have not been guilty of racial hatred or activities associated with terrorism. This form should be signed and returned to the Jan de Beij of the Anglican Church Council for the Netherlands and failure to do so could jeopardise our ANBI status.
4) Church volunteers are entitled to a tax free sum of €1,500 paid by the Church. This does not apply to church council members.
It is always good to see familiar faces at the Synod again and a pleasure to meet those attending for the first time. It gives me a sense of comfort and belonging to stand and worship alongside other members of the Anglican Church of North West Europe. Next year the Archdeaconry Synod will take place in Drongen in Belgium.
Archdeaconry Synod 6-8 October 2011, Vaalbeek, Belgium
Our four enthusiastic representatives who attended the Archdeaconry Synod were Christine Los, Maggie Vermeij (both Arnhem-Nijmegen), Caroline Siertsema and Joyce Wigboldus.
Every time we arrive at the Annual Synod of our Archdeaconry we realize that we, the Chaplaincy of the East Netherlands, are only a minute part of the worldwide Anglican Community (78 million people worldwide). Our Archdeaconry of North West Europe, consisting of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, is one of the seven archdeaconries in the Diocese of Europe (or Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe). It is, according to the website on the archdeaconries, the largest diocese in the Anglican Communion, covering some one-sixth of the Earth's landmass, including Morocco, Europe (excluding the British Isles but including Iceland), Turkey, and the territory of the former Soviet Union. Looking at a map of the diocese, what strikes you immediately is the vast area of the Eastern archdeaconry.
The venerable Patrick Curran, Archdeacon of this vast Eastern Archdeaconry in Europe, had come all the way from Vienna to explain the details of the Anglican Communion Covenant (see Anglican Communion Covenant on internet for full text) to our Synod. This Covenant − an agreement or promise which binds two parties together− has a long history. At the request of the Anglican Primates (the chief bishops), the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, established the Lambeth Commission on Communion in October 2003. This happened in response to developments in North America with respect to same-sex relationships. Its mandate was to “consider ways in which communion and understanding could be enhanced where serious differences threatened the life of a diverse worldwide church”. The commission delivered the so-called Windsor Report in 2004. It was recommended to adopt an “Anglican Covenant to rebuild trust at a time of great strain on the Anglican Communion worldwide”. It was also stated that “for almost five centuries Anglicanism has tried to hold together diverse elements which in other traditions have failed to remain in unity”. The Covenant can best be seen as part of that process and is not intended to be doctrinal; neither is it a (legal) contract. In 2008, when at the same time of the Lambeth Conference (which is held roughly every 10 years) a dissenting GAFCON conference simultaneously took place in Jerusalem, it became even more urgent to draw up a common statement. The full text of the Covenant and a brief history of its development can be found on the internet. It makes exciting reading and covers nine pages. It consists of an Introduction, then four sections:
1. Our Inheritance of Faith. In this the nature of the Anglican Communion as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is described, as well as the two founts of our Communion, the sharing of Word and Sacrament.
2. The Life We Share with Others: Our Anglican Vocation. This section is concerned with the mission of the Churches of the Anglican Communion. Here reference is also made to “the five marks of mission”: (a) to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; (b) to teach, baptize and nurture new believers; (c) to respond to human need by loving service; (d) to seek to transform unjust structures of society; and (e) to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the Earth.
3. Our Unity and Common Life. This deals with the question “what is the source of our unity?” The immediate answer is “our participation in Baptism and Eucharist”.
4. Our Covenanted Life Together. This deals with practical matters of how the Covenant may be adopted by a particular church and how the Covenant will be functioning, and what happens if a particular Church breaks the Covenant. The Covenant ends with Our Declaration: “With joy and firm resolve, we declare our Churches to be partakers in this Anglican Communion Covenant, offering ourselves for fruitful service and binding ourselves more closely in the truth and love of Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory for ever. Amen.” A long debate followed, led by Archdeacon Curran, but there remained a lot of questions. Finally our archdeaconry voted on the acceptance of the Covenant. We voted in two Houses : Clergy 11 for, 7 against and 5 abstentions; and Laity (non-clergy) 16 for, 1 against and 18 abstentions. General Synod has already approved the text but the Bishop’s Council later this month will make the final decision.
The other subject discussed at Synod was Mission.
Bishop Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone and Archbishop Missioner and leader of the Fresh Expressions Team (google Fresh Expressions for detailed information) gave an inspired address entitled: Mission-Shaped Church in North-West Europe. Fresh expressions are a response to our “changing culture”. This movement assumes that the church is both shaped by the gospel and the culture it is trying to reach, like Christians living out the gospel in their cultural context like Jesus who tabernacled among us. It is not a new way to reach people and add them to an existing congregation. The fresh expressions of church are not meant to replace existing forms of church, and they are certainly not in competition with them, nor are they clones.
In 2004 the Mission-Shaped Church report was published (Mission-Shaped Church Planting and Fresh Express ions of Church in a Changing Context, CHP, 2004), supported by a large number of Christian organizations and denominations, both in the UK and overseas. Since that time a number of initiatives have been taken, also in the Netherlands, where a working party has been set up (www.christchurch.nl under the heading “Mission in Benelux: Archdeaconry Synod background material”). One of the most significant developments in the past year has been the setting up of a team of translators to make a start on translating some key texts from Common Worship into Dutch in accordance with the guidelines of the Liturgical Commission. It is considered an additional help in mixed language services such as baptisms, weddings, funerals and Holy Communion, and is not intended to replace English language services. Later, we considered the Dutch situation in small groups and looked at maps and figures on English speaking people − first and second generation − divided over the provinces and the separate towns. An animated discussion followed of how to possibly reorganize resources.
Saturday morning we convened in the Annual Business meeting and then the separate meetings of the Anglican Council for Belgium and the Anglican Council of the Netherlands followed. During this second meeting there was a vote on the setting up of a translation group. All were in favour.
Finally, apart from dealing with a few of the major issues facing the Church of England, we also worshipped together, prayed together, shared opinions and engaged in (sometimes unexpected) discussions. Last but not least we enjoyed great fellowship with one another.
Archdeaconry Synod 7-9 October 2010, Brussels, Belgium
This year the Archdeaconry Synod was held in the city of Brussels in Belgium. The exact location was at the Maison Notre-Dame du Chant d’Oiseau, Centre of Formation. A splendid choice with excellent accommodation and situated in a lush and green part of Brussels.
From within the church of St Mary’s Twente, the Revd Sam Van Leer and myself attended, and from Arnhem church, Chris Los and Maggie Vermeij. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to share with all of them, spiritually and socially.
One aspect that I enjoyed very much this year was the worship and the music. Both were very moving and I personally felt the Holy Spirit among us, and indeed upon reflection that is exactly how it should be.
The Archdeaconry Synod seemed indeed to encompass all the specifics of an Archdeaconry Synod: fellowship, worshipping together, stimulating input, discussions, producing output, and celebrating our corporate life and what God is doing among us.
Thursday evening began with the introduction to Bishop Geoffrey, guests and various chaplains within our Diocese. This provided us in the first instance with faces and their backgrounds, thus enabling us over the next couple of days to make further contacts. Among these guests were the Revd Adele Kelham, from Lausanne of Lake Geneva (women’s ministry); Nick Thomas, chairman of the Healthy Vine Trust (Luweero project, Uganda); the Revd Brian Llewelynfrom St George’s church, Ypres; and the Revd Steve Axtell, from St Mary’s, Rotterdam (and the Mission to Seafarers).
A special guest was the Revd Godffrey Kasana from Kampala in Uganda. Godffrey, a manytalented person (teacher, farmer, youth worker), thanked us warmly and most appreciatively for all the support and aid for the Luweero project and asked for our continued prayers. A very colourful and warm-hearted person, he spoke about his fear on his first-ever flight!
Friday morning began with worship, followed by a session entitled “What does Biblical wisdom literature teach us?” This was given by Prof. Ted van der Ende. God’s gift of wisdom grows and develops all of our life, enabling us to make wise decisions. Reflections from his talk seemed apt at such a synod with decisions to be made.
The following session, entitled “What does the Bishop’s recent survey teach us?”, was the result of the recent survey within the chaplaincies. Information gathered from this survey is vital and necessary for the ongoing research and proposals of the Strategic Review Group (SRG) − in essence a review of the role and support of archdeacons in the Diocese.
The following session, entitled “Some possible theological implications of the Bishop’s survey”, was addressed by the Revd Mark Collinson and Bishop Geoffrey. Questions of incarnation, contextualization, inculturation, indigenization and ecumenism led to an enlightening discussion. A survey gives an idea of potential growth and therefore the church’s belief in mission can be furthered.
A proposal for a working party to draw up guidelines for the support of students and political and economic refugees within the congregations of the Netherlands was accepted and approved. In the following session, Bishop Geoffrey gave background information about the SRG, which had been set out as a recommendation of a synod motion at Cologne in 2006. Basically it has come about as a result of the enormous stress and overwork of the archdeacons within the diocese. A proposal to have four free-standing archdeacons with the support of area deans is what the group is working towards. Legal, financial, pastoral and funding issues are being looked at in the business section of the Synod.
Debate and exchange of views, including the best and worst case scenarios regarding individual chaplaincy contributions, were looked at. The Synod welcomed the work being undertaken by the SRG. A motion setting out this and the implications of the review was presented and passed.
The setting up of an Executive Committee of the Anglican Church in the Netherlands was also approved. This committee would represent the chaplaincies and congregations of the Netherlands in national and ecumenical relationships and also gather professional expertise in legal, financial and taxation matters.
In conclusion, an Archdeaconry Synod certainly gives an insight into the overall picture of the Anglican Church within the Diocese in Europe and into our Archdeaconry of North-West Europe (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg). There are many aspects to look at and one realizes that we all have a role to play. We are all a part of the whole and each of us is as important as the next. It is our task to play out our role in truth and in wisdom and continue to give thanks for God’s grace upon us.
Pauline Talstra (Archdeaconry Representative, Twente)
Archdeaconry Synod 8-10 October 2009, Antwerp, Belgium
The clock in the general meeting room at the Synod in Antwerp had stopped. Symbolical, it seemed to me. Synod is like being in a time-capsule for a few days – one is closed off from ordinary life, hearing lectures, praying, worshiping together and sharing fellowship.
We were 70 people, two-thirds laity, i.e. archdeaconry representatives from the whole of the Benelux (like Pauline and myself), and one third clergy. This year we had with us Bishop Geoffrey, and several guests, such as the Roman Catholic Bishop Johann of Antwerp and the Old Catholic Bishop of Haarlem, Dirk Schoon.
Among the main purposes of Synod are electing clerical and lay representatives to Diocesan and General Synods, discussing the major issues facing the Church of England, and producing output for the people back home in our chaplaincies, so that they know what is going on.
The central theme this year was secularism and ethics. Professor Patrick Nullens and Dr. Ron T. Michener* , both from the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit at Leuven, Belgium, gave talks on: - The differences and similarities between the ethics in the teachings of Socrates and Jesus: they were both despised by the ruling class. Socrates showed up the superficiality of the secular world around him – in that sense we can learn from him. Jesus did the same, but from a theocentric point of view. However, we as a church should not have a mentality of sectarian ethic, but try to stimulate renewal in ethical views. - The position of the church in a post-modern world. We discern pre-modernity, in which the Church had full authority (up to the middle Ages); modernity, since the time of the Enlightenment in the seventeen hundreds when reason was the central focus; and post-modernity in present times which questions modern secular ethics. - Confronting the secular. This issue was illustrated by the examples of Abraham Kuyper, the founder of neo-calvinism in the Netherland and the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Neo-calvinism was one of the causes of the segregation or pillarization (‘verzuiling ‘) in the Netherlands during the larger part of the 20th century and greatly influenced Dutch society in all aspects. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian, pastor and martyr in Nazi Germany, was an example of what it was to be a Christian in a hostile environment. He deeply distrusted a Christendom that uncritically accommodated to a paganised society, and became a church father of our times. -The Sermon on the Mount and the secular world. In Bonhoeffer’s view the sermon on the Mount is an example of Christ’s public teaching; it is still relevant for the calling of the Church today.
We also heard Mr. Michael Harvey on the Back to Church Sunday project. This is an initiative in the UK to invite back people who have not been to church for a long time. The idea of the Back to Church Sunday came up after an enquiry in the UK, from which appeared that people still want religion in crucial parts of life, and that 98% of the people are looking for the meaning of life. The focus is on the local church and its potential for renewal of encouragement , inspiration and fellowship. Mr. Harvey showed us hilarious examples, illustrated by cartoons, of the ways regular churchgoers and welcoming committees should not behave. We all recognized certain situations! (See also:www. cartoonchurch.com)
The Luweero Project. Archdeacon John related about his visit to Luweero in Uganda this year, together with Alastair MacDonald, Chaplain in Amsterdam. They were very warmly welcomed. Luweero has been an ongoing project of our Archdeaconry for at least 10 years, which St. Mary’s Weldam also has contributed to. Archdeacon John had seen with his own eyes what our support means for the people there: clean water (water pumps), malaria reduction (by our supply of mosquito nets), resourcing of the church (by supplying a library). We hope to be able to invite Bishop Evans from Luweero to be with us next Synod.
A very pleasant dinner at a local restaurant followed, with plenty of opportunities to speak to our fellow-Synodians, to laugh and share experiences and stories.
On Saturday morning we had the Business meeting in which the finances of the Archdeaconry were discussed.
And finally, considering that secularism was the main theme of Synod, it was also good to hear a number of very positive news itmes from the chaplaincies! Archdeacon John de Wit read a letter from Maastricht where a new chaplaincy is being set up with great enthusiasm; in Haarlem there has been a successful campaign to approach all people with English-sounding names that were listed in the telephone directory; in Brussels Evening Praise experiences a great revival; the chaplaincies of Ostend and Bruges are being re-organised after a difficult time; in Eindhoven there will be a meeting next year of the evangelically orientated New Wine group. This group is quite successful in the UK. We saw a film on the Schiphol chaplaincy, where there is an oecumenical chapel. It became clear to us, how important such a place is for people when there is sorrow, bereavement, or just a longing for a moment of peace.
At the end of Synod Bishop Geoffrey explained the difficult task of Archbishop Rowan in holding together the Anglican Church worldwide. An Anglican Covenant is in preparation, three quarters has been agreed upon, but the most delicate section, on Human Relationship, is still under consideration. The situation is less critical than the Press insinuates, especially as a number of Bishops attended as well the alternative the Conference in Jerusalem of disagreeing churches (GAFCON), as the regular Lambeth Conference last year. As there exists no international Canon Law binding together different churches in the Anglican Communion - unlike in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide , this Covenant is going to be something like it.
After the final Synod Eucharist we all felt uplifted, inspired and encouraged for a new year in church life!
Archdeaconry Synod October 2008, Brussels, Belgium
The Lambeth Conference and Anglican Identity
This year the Archdeaconry Synod met in Antwerp as usual. Our Chaplain Sam van Leer, Chris Los and Ank Robinson , and I went there as clergy and lay-representatives of the Chaplaincy of the East Netherlands. We sadly missed our friend Mary Kay Schouten who came with us last year and so enjoyed her three days of Synod. The Venerable John de Wit, our recently appointed Archdeacon, holds the Synod Chair. Bishop Richard Garrard, honorary assistant bishop of our Diocese, represented Bishop Geoffrey.
The Chaplaincy of the East Netherlands, is a part of the Archdeaconry of North-West Europe, consisting of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. With six other Archdeaconries we form the Diocese of Europe. The largest Archdeaconry among these is the Eastern Archdeaconry, covering more than 15 countries including the former Soviet Union, Poland, Mongolia and Turkey. Then there is the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar which includes Andorra, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Further, there is the Archdeaconry of Germany, consisting of the Deanery of Germany and the Deanery of the Nordic and Baltic States, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. Finally there are the Archdeaconries of France, Switzerland and Italy (with Malta). We, at our chaplaincy level, do not realize what a vast organization we are part of! To gain a better understanding of what we are doing at the Archdeaconry Synod (AS) it may be useful to mention the purpose and values of our Synod: ‘To conduct the legal requirements of electing clerical and lay representatives to Diocesan and General Synods, to conduct the business of our corporate archidiaconal life and mission’. As well as these we seek to ‘engage with the major issues facing the Church of England, to be inspired, equipped and encouraged to further the mission of the church in our local setting, and to preserve an ecumenical dimension’. We aim to achieve these purposes by having a synod once a year in which we: ‘Enjoy fellowship together; worship together. Have stimulating input; engage in discussion with one another. Produce an output (that is do something together in the Synod itself or which we can take home to our chaplaincies). Use the arts as a means of expressing who we are and what we believe; and to celebrate our corporate life and what God is doing among us’. Before the actual beginning of the Synod Bishop Garrard led in the Opening Eucharist and preached on Colossians 1:1-14 and John 17:20-26 . “I am the vine”.
The General Diocesan Synod of Europe gathered in York this year, just before the worldwide Lambeth Conference in London took place in July August. At our Archdeaconry Synod (AS), - one level below the General Synod - we received reports from both gatherings. Mrs. Ann Turner, our AS-representative, reported on the General Synod in York. She said there was extensive consideration of the major issue of women bishops (because of a motion of the House of Bishops), but this had also been with a wide range of other ministry and mission issues. According to Mrs. Turner the debate between the members in favour and those against had not always been amiable. Those in favour were not taking sufficient regard of those who by their religious conviction are not able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests. However, the motion was carried that it is the wish of the majority to admit women to the episcopate. And further, that legal steps are in progress to make a first code of practice and a first consideration of a draft legislation on the matter. Among the other issues discussed were ‘Church and Society’ and ‘Reader Ministry’. In the former issue a report on climate change and human security was discussed, in the latter the challenges and opportunities facing Reader ministry. In his Presidential address the Archbishop of York urged the Church to face outwards in its work as an agent of social change. In separate speeches The Bishop of Beverley, Martyn Jarrett, and Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old-Catholic Church in the Netherlands reported on ‘What happened at the Lambeth Conference’. The title Bishop of Beverley (a city in the West Riding of the County of York) was revived in 1994, after the ordination of women as priest was allowed. This bishop has responsibility for those parishes within the Deanery of York which, through conscience, feel unable to accept the ordination of women. Archbishop Joris from the Netherlands was invited as an observer, as the Old-Catholic Church is in full communion with the Anglican church. Bishop Geoffrey and Bishop David of our Diocese also attended the Conference. The Lambeth Conference is held every 10 years in England - the first was at Lambeth Palace in 1867 (Lambeth Palace is the official London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, located in Lambeth, London, on the south bank of the River Thames). Anglican bishops from all over the world then meet – this time for the 14th time. The design for 2008 deliberately avoided western and parliamentary styles of meeting. At the heart of the process were daily indaba groups. Indaba, a Zulu word refers to a gathering for purposeful discussion in which each voice is heard and the perspectives of all are considered. Other themes were founded on an exploration of Anglican identity and the ministry of the bishop as leader of the Church’s mission. Many bishops,150 out of 880, did not attend in protest against Gene Robinson appointment as Bishop of New Hampshire, USA, despite the fact of his overt homosexuality. They organised their own conference, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June of this year.
In his speech to our Synod, Bishop Jarrett praised Archbishop Rowan for his wisdom in including a few days retreat for the bishops in Canterbury before the Conference began. During the retreat they were able to listen to each other and to pray together. Bishop Jarrett regretted that at the conference itself there was little room for the severe problems, such as poverty and violence, that African and Eastern Bishops especially, have to deal with and there was hardly any theological reflection possible. ‘We were’ as he expressed it ‘over-shouted by our context’, as the issues of women bishops and the blessing of homosexual bishops dominated the Conference.
Archbishop Joris Vercammen shared Bishop Jarrett’s view on the point of lack of theological reflection. Theological education is necessary, also for bishops. He also felt impressed by the bishops’ retreat, where there was an open, free atmosphere: ‘Anglicans are open about what’s going wrong’. He appreciated the indaba procedure during the Conference itself, as it expressed something that was very Anglican, the idea that exchanging of thoughts and listening to one another leads to better communication. He said that self-centredness is the main threat to any church, and that Anglican identity must be linked to the mission of the church. He was also moved by the Primate of Madagascar who stated at Lambeth, that ‘The Anglican church finds itself confronted with a cultural shift’, less English, more multilingual. He said that at Lambeth eventually a moratorium was pronounced on: a) the blessing of homosexual bishops, b) the blessing of homosexual couples and c), the interfering in internal matters of the churches. That more than 700 bishops were united there proved their unified feelings. He concluded that a more modest conference more often, would be advisable as we cannot wait another 10 years to talk to one another. Many gay Americans feel let down by the sounds in Lambeth, he said. On the other hand, American bishops are aware that they’ve caused troubles for the African bishops. Let us try to save the Anglican tradition of unity.
Mark Collinson, Chaplain at Amsterdam talked about ‘Christ, Culture and Outreach’. He pointed out that history shows that new churches are needed every generation (25-30 years). He wondered what we do for the Anglicans in the Amsterdam Bijlmermeer, where there are over 150 religious communities. Our Chaplain Sam Van Leer, gave a talk on ‘What is it that draws people into joining Anglican Chaplaincies in Europe?’ He is doing research on this subject. A fact is that while other churches have dwindling numbers, the Anglican congregations are growing. From many interviews he held among church members within the Netherlands it appears the folowing reasons contribute to this growth. The liturgy, the singing, the small-scale (in the Netherlands), the friendliness, the toleration of different types of worship (Anglo-Catholic to Evangelist), the fellowship among the members of the congregation and the organization of events for charity are all. We’ll hear more about his research later!
The next speaker was Dr. Colin Podmore. He is a church historian and Secretary of the House of Clergy, the Dioceses Commission and the Liturgical Commisssion. Among his recent publications is ‘Aspects of Anglican Identity’ . His lectured on ‘Anglican identity’, a topical subject also dealt with during the recent Lambeth Conference. In two sessions he offered us an introduction to issues of Anglican identity, and to what extent the Anglican tradition is distinct, and he looked at Anglican church order, its theological basis, and why we need it. In his clarifying lectures Mr. Podmore explained that whereas other churches are often named after people,(Lutherans, Calvinists, Wesleyans, Buddhists), or teachings (Baptists), the name ‘Church of England’ (Magna Carta, 1215, Ecclesia Anglicana) is just a geographical indication. The decisions taken in 1536 by King Henry VIII led to a separation from the Church of Rome, not to the birth of a new church. Therefore there is no confessional basis document. But there is the so-called Canon Law or Canons of the Church of England (revised in 1969, 1970), which is in fact the ‘church code’) of the Church of England. Then there are the Thirty-nine articles of Religion (1571). As well as the Book of Common Prayer ((1662, now Common Worship) and the Ordinal ((1662), part of the Canon Law - Ordination services for bishops, priests and deacons), which form together the Historic Formularies of the Church of England. The Thirty-nine Articles (1563), were not intended as a complete statement of the Christian faith, but of the position of the Church of England vis-a-vis the Roman Catholic Church and dissident Protestants: they exclude the Roman Catholics and the Puritans. At the heart of the Church of England is the worship of God,(Lex orandi est lex credendi), so worship (the liturgy) is most important ánd ordered structure. In the second lecture he explained more about the fact that the terms ‘Anglican Communion’-first used by Bishop Horatio Southgate in 1847 - and ‘Anglicanism’ - first used by John Henry Newman in 1837 - are fairly modern. The episcopacy is necessary for the structure of the Church of England; the bishops govern, while the Synods form the Parliament of the church. These bishops govern by means of the Synods and Canon Law. Ecclesiastical law is vital and holds the body of the church together. Finally Dr. Podmore stated that continuity is the church is not static. One could express tradition as : the gospel itself, carried from one generation to another (tra-ditio = handing over = dynamic). Tradition must be living, developing and changing.
The enthusiastic, knowledgeable and informal chairmanship of Archdeacon John de Wit did contributed very much to a congenial, relaxed atmosphere during this Synod. Everybody talked to everybody, many questions were asked and answered. Where we used to have a formal seated dinner on the last evening, we now had a buffet dinner with unexpected good entertainment by the Synod members themselves!
After the Synod Eucharist at which the Archdeacon preached, we left feeling refreshed, strengthened and blessed.
Archdeaconry Synod 4-6 October 2007, Antwerp, Belgium
As your representatives to the Synod, Joyce and I set off by car to Antwerp on Thursday afternoon and arrived in time to find our rooms before dinner. This meeting of the clergy and laity of the Archdeaconry of North West Europe is an annual affair, designed to increase the togetherness of the chaplaincies in the area, and to deal with business matters (like our own AGM). There were two speakers, who gave talks spread over the two days. Bishop Geoffrey opened the proceedings with an address with the title 'Spirituality of Work'. The theme for the talks was 'Work and Faith'. The first speaker was Mr. Paul Valler, who was formerly the Finance and Human Resources Director with the Hewlett-Packard Group, and is now a teacher elder at Finchampstead Baptist Church. He gave two talks on 'How to support Christians at work?’ and 'Resilient Christian Identity'. His talks were very instructive and appealed greatly to us all. The second speaker was The Very Reverend Dr. Victor Stock, Dean of Guildford Cathedral since 2002, and Incumbent of the Guild Church St. Mary le Bow in the City of London in the period of 1986-2002. He spoke on 'Work and Faith in the City of London' and 'Work and Faith in Guildford Cathedral'. Dr. Stock is a very witty speaker – he used to have his own ‘radio hour on the BBC’, where he was known as ‘the rocking Rev’. He illustrated his talks with humorous anecdotes, which nevertheless, had a serious undertone.
The subject of this Synod is obviously more applicable to people in paid work, as they are the ones who might come up against antagonism or other problems on the work floor. However, work is a part of life, beginning in the Garden of Eden when God made man to 'have dominion over His creation' and then after the Fall it became 'toil' which is another word for hard work. We all work in one way or another, the question is ‘How do we apply our Christianity to that work’ .Some words to think about in this context are – integrity, authenticity, credibility. One important thing is to find a balance between, work, family, free time and time devoted to one’s religion, this last provides the sustenance for the rest.
It was an intensive couple of days, starting with a full programme on Thursday evening. Continued on Friday with talks interspersed with church services, followed by a formal dinner. Saturday morning was devoted to the business meeting, which gave rise to heated discussion. Afterwards there was the final Eucharist celebrated by the Bishop. I found sharing the Communion in a circle round the altar area very satisfying; unfortunately, this is not possible at St. Mary’s. Then lunch and the drive home, this time with a full car as we gave Chris Los from Arnhem and our own Chaplain, Sam, a lift home again. A very satisfying Synod.
Archdeaconry Synod 6-8 October 2006
The main theme this year was “Loss”, and how it affects us in our setting, identity and mission. Around 70 representatives of the Anglican Churches in the Benelux attended the Synod, including Matthijs Ploeger representing the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands. On Thursday evening Archdeacon Dirk van Leeuwen opened the synod and introduced Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, the first speaker who in his moving address, “The Spirituality of Loss” described various types of loss, loss of work, faith, family, home, country, relationships, health etc.
By spirituality, Christian spirituality is meant. He quoted from Matthew the Poor (a representative of Coptic monasticism who recently died), who said on his experience of God: ‘I have far more experience of God through others than I do directly myself’. Bishop Geoffrey pointed out that the same holds true for the experience of loss. Other quotations followed from “ Love’s Redeeming Work - The Anglican quest for holiness’’ which our Bishop compiled together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and the Bishop of Portsmouth, Kenneth Stevenson.
Friday began with Morning Prayer and Bible Study and after breakfast, we had the first workshop on loss and bereavement, led by Gillian Ratcliff and Naomi Insall, both highly trained counsellors. We discussed the experiences and effects of loss. Later in the day we came to the second important issue of the Synod a report (as yet interim) commissioned by the Archdeaconry Standing Committee based on the Diocesan Pastoral Conference in Cologne in 2005, on “The Mission and Identity of Anglican Churches in Benelux”. This was compiled by a Think Tank consisting of The Revd Mark Collinson, The Revd Dr Peter Staples, Mrs. Pamela de Wit and The Revd Sam van Leer.
The report is based on three sources. a) Official statistics: The European Values Study (1999-2000) as published by the University of Tilburg and “Godsdienstige Veranderingen in Nederland”, published by the Sociaal and Cultureel Planbureau, together with b) a ‘creative framework’ consisting of Duncan MacLaren’s book “Mission implausible : Restoring credibility to the Church’ (Paternoster Milton Keynes, 2004), as well as c) the Think Tank’s own observations and anecdotes. In Mark Collinson’s presentation, several of the 11 post-modernism religious/sociological scenarios existing in Anglican churches in the Benelux were described, including Defensive, Transitional, Sectarian, Resilient and Consumer religion. There was a lively discussion afterwards to what type of church people thought they belonged (usually a mix), the pros and cons were weighed, dangers and opportunities mentioned. The Think Tank stated that it’s only an interim report yet and matters will be worked out in greater detail at a later stage. Before lunch the Eucharist was celebrated by the Bishop of Luweero a diocese in Uganda with which our Archdeaconry has been linked for several years.
In the afternoon three members of the Committee for Minority & Ethnic Anglican Concerns, (CMEAC) led by Mrs. Sonia Barron, National Adviser, had been invited to address us briefly about their work to encourage and engage participation from the Church’s Black and Minority Ethnic populations at every level. We were left with many questions, as the time allotted to them appeared to be far too short. Perhaps next year even better?
Another workshop on loss and bereavement followed which included listening skills, sharing acknowledging, exploring and moving on. After tea, in a plenary workshop we talked about context of loss, manifestations of normal grief, what we take back to our chaplaincies.
In the evening, there was a short reception, followed by the formal synod dinner. This was followed again by a late-night concert by two professional musicians, Ying Lai, double bass and Lauretta Bloomer, piano. Both ladies attend Christ Church in Amsterdam. They performed music by Kodály, Chopin, Rachmaninov, van Beethoven and Bottesini. A wonderful concert, notwithstanding the very late hour!
The first business session took place on Saturday morning after Matins and breakfast. On the agenda were the Minutes of the last Synod, Matters Arising, Finance (Budget proposal for 2007), and reports from ANAC (Anglican Netherlands Area Council).
In the second Business session the recent Report from the general Synod was discussed, called “Getting the message”, a Resource Pack for Two-Way Communication between the General Synod, Dioceses, Deaneries and parishes”. It can be downloaded from www.cofe.anglican.org/about/gensynod/agendas/gtma.rtf, for anyone who wants to know more about communication and structures within the Diocese. The next point on the agenda was the link of our Diocese with Luweero, Uganda. Bishop Evans Mukasa Kisekka, who was present during the entire Synod, told us how grateful the people in Luweero are for the generous gifts from the chaplaincies in our diocese. (Aim: € 20,000 in 2006). Several local personnel, including members of the local water management and malaria management teams, the local minister and village guides are involved. There is also a roofing project, a sewing machines project, etc. This grassroots involvement has been highly acclaimed locally, as it has happened never before. Jay Dennett from The Hague showed a recent presentation of the projects.
A plenary discussion on the Report “Mission and Identity of Anglican Churches in Benelux” followed, and thereafter every chaplaincy discussed in workshops the position of their own church. All agreed that – alas! - time had been too short again to discuss matters properly the discussion will be continued! The official Synod was closed by the Eucharist, which Bishop Geoffrey celebrated. All Synod attendees were invited to the Institution and Licensing of the Revd Andrew Wagstaff SSC, in Antwerp later that afternoon at which we were represented by Frances.
Frances Gothard, Reader
Archdeaconry Synod 6-8 October 2005, Antwerp, Belgium
Hardly any of us are aware of what happens at an Archdeaconry Synod. Therefore, I did not know what to expect when I set out for Antwerp on Thursday, October 6, as it was my first time as an Archdeaconry Representative. We had been sent a full programme well in advance. The theme of the Synod was: “Bloom where you are planted” (based on the biblical text of Jeremiah 29:5-7). This theme was sourced at the Diocesan Pastoral Conference for the clergy, which took place in Cologne last September. For this reason the Synod had invited four speakers on related issues such as the (im)migrant, the traveller, the expatriate, the African, etc.
The venue of the Synod was the Theological Pastoral Centre in the leafy suburb of Wilrijk. The complex dates from the ’sixties’ of the last century, in the typical style of the period, much concrete and glass, not very picturesque but purely functional. The setting however, was quiet and the gardens were peaceful. A warm meal was provided when we arrived.
Archdeacon Dirk van Leeuwen opened the Synod at 20.00 and welcomed all. The Reverend Mark Collinson from Christ Church in Amsterdam gave feedback from the Pastoral Conference in Cologne last September. This was followed by the address by Bishop David Hamid, Suffragen Bishop in Europe. His theme was “On the way to fullest flower”. The bishop is a former Director of Ecumenical Affairs of the Anglican Consultative Council, and as such, integration and mission are near to his heart. Referring to the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral Statement of 1886 and the Lambeth Conference of 1930, he stated that in fact Anglicanism is very open-ended and that we are no use to anybody as long as we are divided. More than half of the bishops are from the third world; only 1.1 million of the 76 million Anglicans live in the UK; and 48% of all Anglicans are Africans. Therefore, we should realise that Europe - where the large churches started - is losing its importance as centre of the Christian world. At 22:00, following the opening there was Compline in the Chapel.
On Friday, we heard five speakers. After Morning Prayer and breakfast, the theme of the (im)migrant was dealt with by the first speaker, Erika Feenstra. She is on the staff (consisting of two people) of “Het Kerkhuis”, a PKN initiative in Amsterdam. They maintain contacts with many of the migrant churches in Greater Amsterdam, trying to find them worship space, maintaining ecumenical relationships, assisting individuals (often refugees, sometimes with nowhere to go and no right to stay), and much more. Her story was impressive; so was her enthusiasm. Most of her work is in the Bijlmermeer suburb, built in the seventies, with no church buildings. Imagine that only in the Bijlmer, where there are now 100 migrant churches, most of them evangelical!
The theme of the traveller was the subject of the second speaker. Howie Adan is one of the chaplains of Christ Church Amsterdam, and Anglican Airport Chaplain at Schiphol Airport. To illustrate what frequent travellers have to cope with, he made an excellent DVD-film, with the personal stories of a number of his congregation members. Then Group discussion, Eucharist and lunch.
The third speech was even more impressive: the Reverend Isaac Mensah spoke on the theme of the refugee. He himself came to Brussels in 1985 as a penniless refugee, after having been removed for political reasons from Ghana, where he was a high-ranking air force officer. His experiences with Europe, which is often regarded as heaven by the people of Africa, were quite shocking. He now is on the staff of the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Brussels, and has special responsibility for the African style Sunday afternoon service.
The last speaker, and a very eloquent one at that, was the Reverend Joan Lyon, who spoke on ‘The expatriate – bliss’. She is Assistant Chaplain in Luxemburg. She has extensive counselling experience and challenges the assumption that expatriate life is always great. During her speech, she allowed the Synod members to exchange experiences among each other for a few minutes; the whole meeting room buzzed within seconds! Group work and plenary after that and then an address by Brian Morgan from Bern who is involved at chaplaincy, archdeaconry and diocesan level, on the clergy review scheme that has been started in Switzerland and has proved to be a valuable gift from the laity to the clergy.
At 19.00, there were Alternative evening services, and starting from 20.00 a very enjoyable dinner for all Synod members at which both bishop David and Dirk van Leeuwen were present with their wives. Francis Gothard will report on the second half of the Synod, especially about the business meetings on Saturday and the licensing of two new readers.