2021 Bishop’s Lent Appeal for the English Church of Liège (Belgium)

A message from The Right Reverend Dr. Robert Innes, The Bishop in Europe:

My Lent Appeal this year is concerned with restarting ordained ministry in a chaplaincy that has gone through tough times but where there is great potential. The new chaplain is one of the (very few) stipendiary, trained curates from our own diocese. The Reverend Guy Diakese trained for the priesthood in Nigeria and Rome and speaks French, English and Italian fluently. The money raised through this appeal will enable the beginning of Guy’s ministry in Liège, a former industrial city which is now home to large numbers of migrants from beyond Europe.  

Background

The life of an English-speaking Christian community in Liège dates back to 1654, when Prince Charles of Great Britain visited the curative waters in nearby Spa, with subsequent generations of Britons following his example. From the 1960s, Spa attracted fewer visitors, though, so the church moved to the provincial capital city of Liège. This was only fully formalized in 2015, when official legal recognition transferred from Spa to Liège. However, since then, the Chaplaincy has gone through challenging times…

The previous Chaplain sadly passed away in September 2019.  His long and devoted ministry, great service and deep friendship have been dearly missed in Liège.  The efforts of a local Ministry Team, and in particular the efforts of a Pastoral Support Worker, enabled the small congregation to keep worship services and community activities going during a period of insecurity and grief.

COVID-19 placed additional burdens, with which we have all grown familiar, on a struggling Chaplaincy.

The lockdown has not helped with outreach and growth, but committed members and the local leadership team persevere in the faith, and despite decreased income, there are new signs of hope.  But the English Church in Liège cannot yet afford to provide accommodation for the Chaplain, among other things.

The Chaplaincy Context and Mission

There is a great need, but also great potential, for a English-speaking ministry in Liège.  Liège is a city of about 200,000 people, the fourth biggest in Belgium. About 20% of these are of foreign nationality; plus many other second-generation immigrants and other Belgian citizens with foreign roots. Although the largest group of foreign nationalities in Liège comes from French-speaking countries, a large number will also use English as their second or even first language. In addition, there are about 25,000 students, 24% of which are international, from 128 different nationalities.

Even in hard times, the Chaplaincy leadership has proven resilient and dedicated, and looks forward to working with its new Chaplain to generate growth, both spiritual and numerical.

The Council has identified three commitments they desire to be true to in the coming time:

Committed to growing disciples of Jesus Christ –

through worship services, Bible Studies, Sunday School and fellowship

Committed to care –

through a soup kitchen, support of the Protestant Social Centre and by being environmentally responsible.

Committed to Ecumenism

Working with other Christian communities has been important through this chaplaincy’s history and remains so today.

You can find out more about the Liège chaplaincy here:

Website: www.englishchurch-Liège.be

I am very much aware of the financial demands placed on all our chaplaincies by the Covid crisis. I nonetheless commend my Lent appeal to you warmly, hoping that we can all share in the hope that this new start for the chaplaincy of Liège promises.  

I wish you a holy and spiritually fulfilling Lent in these difficult times.  

With every blessing,

+Robert Gibraltar in Europe

Donations to the Bishop’s Lent Appeal can be made by sending a payment to St Andrew’s https://standrewszurich.church/payments-and-donations/ and our Treasurer, Ian Long, will pass it on to the Diocese in Europe. Please do mention ‘Bishop’s Lent Appeal 2021’ when making your payment.

Thank you for your support.

Ruth Bailey, Church Administrator

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