THE ANGLICAN MINISTRY IN MALLORCA
A chat with an Arch Deacon was my lot this week. He flew in from Germany to chat to the parishioners of the Anglican Church in Palma. The Anglican Church on the island has buildings in Palma, Port of Pollensa and uses a local building in Cala D’or. The churches are part of the Diocese of Europe and are part of Anglican Church life. If things get tricky the Arch Deacon or Bishop comes by to assist the thoughts and decisions of the local people. Thus it was this week when a meeting was held to outline the future processes of the church as it enters a new phase.
Church life in Mallorca is fascinating as many incoming groups bring in their own view of the religion they are familiar with. The South American influences on the Evangelical Churches in Palma creates a huge vibrant church group. They are a combination of lively worship and practical help to each other and the wider community. The Salvation Army here has new leaders and their outreach involves charity shops, soup kitchens and the day to day life of the church.
Other nationalities such as the German and Scandinavian priests run their churches and create a ‘church from home’ for their people. There are some groups who do not have church buildings who share the local catholic church buildings in a spirit of ecumenism. The Lutheran Church on the Island has two locations in shared churches and also centres itself at their care home for elderly citizens in Santa Ponsa.
A desire for a church and a meeting of like minded people is important to many when they relocate here. In Soller the local Catholic church has many buildings in the Valley. Everyone is welcome as long as you work with whatever language the service is in. My conversation with a Methodist friend about her membership of our local church was fascinating. Nova was an older lady with limited mobility so driving to Palma to the Anglican church was not a possibility. Her view was that she was content to ‘go local’ because all that mattered to her was being part of a community of faith. A Faith community was her ultimate goal and that had nothing to do with the brands of religion available here. For her if you had erected a huge tent and welcomed everyone from all faith groups to worship together it would have fulfilled a dream.
A desire for a belief system is very evident in Majorca. When people choose to come here they know that their lives are going to be controlled by the Catholic Church Calendar. They may not ever enter a church but the parades and observation are all around them all the time. Eventually it sinks into the psyche and gives form to the year. This is the life of the people we have chosen to live amongst and the effect cannot be underestimated.
The Anglican Churches in Majorca are in a period of change right now. The priests of both the Port of Pollensa and Palma churches have left their posts for pastures new. The interregnum – which usually takes about a year, is being filled with locum priests who are temporary breaths of fresh air. Church life continues and the members are involved in the process of new appointments. Life goes on every week with the normal services, weddings, baptisms and funerals. Business as usual but we can’t always confirm till nearer the time the name of the Vicar who will be officiating.
The Anglican Church holds services in English and it is that very reason which makes the place a melting pot. Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Catholics plus so many more all gather using the Anglican church service in English as the cement which holds them together. If this is what you want then it is inspirational. We are almost at the point of Nova’s desire for a meeting house of people of ‘faith’.
There are members of the Anglican Church in Majorca who have lived through a number of interregnums. The average stay of a Vicar is between 7 & 10 years and then a year to find someone new. This means that the congregation’s work is very important. A new Vicar is appointed and then retires or leaves and the process starts again. The consistency and work of the local church is largely in the hands of the office holders and the congregation.
The biggest problem of all on this island is the accessibility to the type of worship you want to be part of. For someone like me who drives past 20 churches to get from Soller to Palma to church it is a dilemma. Many start their church life with no thoughts that in a few years 40 minutes to an hour in the car to get to church will not be practical or possible. The Anglican Church in the Port of Pollensa has a local congregation. Many can walk to church and willingly take part in evening events and occasions. In Palma a handful of members live locally and everyone else makes a great effort by car or public transport to get there. This has always been the case but with an aging population it means that on many occasions the church has to visit the people where they are. The work of a Parish Priest in Palma is unlike anything they will have experienced before. Non drivers or corporate vicars need not apply is one important criteria. A pastoral vicar, prepared to get truly involved with the congregations is what both churches require
As the meeting finished with the Arch Deacon Leslie Nathaniel we all knew that the process had begun. He will be back in May to set the timetable for the new appointment of the Vicar of Palma. In the meantime, its business as usual for the congregation and elected members. They have a huge voluntary task to do to keep the show on the road.
All are welcome to come and see and be part of the changes going on in the Anglican Church as they look for new vicars. Your contribution could be just what they need to help them to move the church into 2020 and beyond.
By Shirley Roberts