With a fanfare by the brass ensemble of the Gibraltar Royal Regimental Band, the festive Eucharist to mark the 25 years of the new Church of England Diocese in Europe, began, with a full cathedral gathered to mark the occasion. In 1980 the Sees of Fulham (London) and Gibraltar, were combined to become the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. The service also marked the 100th anniversary of the establishing the Deanery at Gibraltar by Bishop William Collins in 1905.
The Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, bishop of the diocese, presided at the concelebrated liturgy 23 October, along with the Bishop Suffragan, the Rt Revd David Hamid, the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Revd Alan Woods, and the Archdeacons of the widely scattered diocese. His Excellency Sir Francis Richards, Governor, attended the services as did the Chief Minister of the Government, Peter Caruana. Roman Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian representatives attended along with the regular congregation and many guests. Bishop Ambrose Weekes was also present and at least three former deans. The choir rendered superb music that included traditional chant, an anthem by Mozart and descants to the hosts of hymns.
A high point in the service was the procession by the Sunday School children of a model of the uniquely designed cathedral and a rainbow coloured poster with the flags of the many countries that comprise the Diocese in Europe. Following Communion, young dancers of the Danza Academy, in bright red and white clothing, offered a prayer in a liturgical dance format to music by Faure, bringing the service to a joyful ending.
In his sermon at the mass, Bishop David Hamid, stressed the need for the churches of the diocese to be places where people can have "a living encounter", as people today are "craving" mystery, tradition and spirituality. He gave an historical looking back at 25 years and all that has transpired in the world. The bishop said that the diocese was "on the move" and that things that are "potentially great" can be accomplished if we keep to our commitment of "building up the kingdom of light". He spoke of the appeal of the "distinctive flavour of Anglicanism" and called upon the churches to live out Anglicanism with "conviction and joy". He added, "our heritage will equip us for our every task."
In an introduction to the order of service, Bishop Rowell states, "Dispersed across a continent the Diocese in Europe too is called as part of God's pilgrim church to this mission in Christ. After centuries of gradual growth, a single diocese under one bishop was created in 1980. Since then our continent has seen the end of totalitarian oppression and the creation of a peaceful union of peoples, and the churches have been animated with an ecumenical spirit in response to our Lord's command that we should be one in life and mission so the world may believe. The peoples of Europe still desire the word of truth and long for the gospel of hope and salvation."
Churches of the diocese will mark the Silver Jubilee on this coming Sunday.
Article by: Jim Rosenthal who is a canon of the cathedral in Gibraltar, Diocese in Europe)