Dean’s Blog: Monday 16th January 2017

January 22, 2017 in Dean's Blog

Celebrating the Baptism of Christ – Ethiopian Orthodox Church: Monday 16th January 2017

Ethiopia 1There was a great sense of joy among the Ethiopian Orthodox community as they celebrated the baptism of Jesus.
Having begun their service in the Alun Morris Hall, they came out to the car park to be sprayed by their priest in richly colourful robes with a powerful spray hose.
Ethiopia 2This was not just a few drops of water but a good soaking for many, but much enjoyed by all who were there – and there were many. I am not sur that it would be received so cheerfully by an English parish!



An Ambassador’s Scribblings: Poetry, Literature and The Life of a Diplomat:                             Sunday 15th January 2017

ethiopia 3It is not often that we have the opportunity to listen to an Ambassador when he is not there specifically representing his country and country’s views, but the subject matter for tonight’s Living Room Dialogue allowed HE William Roebuck, the U.S. Ambassador the opportunity to wear his heart on his sleeve and share some of his poetry and reflect on the circumstances in which they were written. Each of the three he chose were prompted in some way by death of people close to him: the first by the death of the American Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, killed in Benghazi, whom he followed as Charge d’Affaires; the second was the deaths of Embassy security guards, on a visit to Gaza, when the second car was blown up by a roadside bomb, when he would normally have been travelling in the second car; and the third was a reflection following his father’s death and the experience of many expatriates away from home at significant occasions. Amazing that we could spend an evening with the American Ambassador and the Presidential Elections were not mentioned once!

New Year visit by the Tamil congregation: Friday 13th January 2017

ethiopia 4A lovely tradition of the Tamil congregation is to visit the home of the priest and his family to honour them, so we were delighted to welcome the growing congregation after their service.They sang
a hymn, read a scripture and prayed and then presented us with a bowl of fruit before we had tea and samosas together. ethiopia 5
Some of the men wore dhotis, in solidarity with the Indian farmers.



Blog January 2017 Kuwait

January 14, 2017 in Dean's Blog

Peijin’s Ordination in St Paul’s Church, Kuwait: Feast of the Epiphany, 6th January 2017

jan 01There was a great sense of occasion for the Ordination of Peijin Zhu at St Paul’s Church, Kuwait and Tricia and I felt honoured to be there. Peijin is from China, she was baptized in Kuwait, trained in Trinity College, Singapore has served a growing Chinese community in Kuwait for several years, attended a Selection Conference in Jordan and will now serve as Assistant Curate at St Paul’s with a particular pastoral responsibility. Peijin stayed with us for ten days about three years ago and she gave much of her time with the Bahrain encouraging Chinese Christian community here; it has been a privilege to see her becoming increasingly assured in her vocation to ministry and her quiet, but passionate, determination to follow God’s call and to see the Church recognize her vocation to ministry. jan 02The significance of the occasion marked, not only by the great turn-out of the Chinese community for this special occasion – they must have made up at least a third of the congregation – but also in those who’d travelled from other countries to be there: Archdeacon Bill from Qatar, Andy Thompson who baptized Peijin ten years earlier now in St Andrew’s, Abu Dhabi, Derek and Sue Smith from St Barnabas’, Limassol, Cyprus, who had also hosted Peijin who gave time to the Chinese community there, Charles and Sally Milner who used to be members of St Paul’s Kuwait, but are now back in the UK, and ourselves from Bahrain. It is clear that Peijin’s ministry is affirmed by all members of the chaplaincy, whatever country they are from.

Following the service there was a lunch reception for the congregation in the Kuwait Oil jan 03Company Guest House dining room, where speeches were given and gifts were given to Peijin – we had taken a three-fish plate from Bahrain. We then were taken by Peijin and Ming, with Derek and Sue Smith and their hosts, to see a little of Kuwait including the lift up the Kuwait Tower, where you get a spectacular view over the city and Kuwait Bay with its rotating outer rim floor.

We made a quick visit to the National Evangelical Church of Kuwait compound where Peijin was baptized in an outdoor baptistery, before we returned to our accommodation – a very comfortable ‘chalet’ in the Hilton Hotel resort – where one of the Chinese congregation lives, but who was away on holiday. We are grateful to him.

We stayed on in Kuwait on Saturday and were involved in interviewing for the post of Chaplain of St Paul’s, two fine candidates, with a panel that included Bishop Michael and three representatives from the Kuwait Chaplaincy. It was a privilege to be involved in the process of discernment for the chaplaincy and the diocese with them.

Ethiopian generosity

jan 04I am blown over by the sheer generosity of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church community. They must be our largest church community that meets on our compound, but they also must be among the poorest: dominantly women, working largely in domestic service and the hospitality industry, as waitresses in restaurants. But last week they invited me to speak at their service for our Building Appeal and presented me with four cheques for BD250 to be cashed over the next four months from church funds, and then a further cheque of over BD500 from the congregation’s collection.

Seeing in the New Year: December 31st 2016/ 1st January 2017

jan 05The New Year’s Eve Watchnight service in the Cathedral, arranged by the Tamil community, is establishing itself as a regular feature of our life at St Christopher’s and is clearly an important discipline, especially for the Indian community, but also our Kenyan community supported by a few South Africans and just a few others. It began with various groups leading us in praise from 11.30pm till midnight, New Years greetings shared at midnight, and then the start of the Holy Communion service. A cup of tea and snack outside followed the service. Stephen had asked me to provide a prayer for a prayer card, so I chose the following prayer by Edmund Banyard:

Lord help us to know joy as a spring always welling up within us and give us the power to dance through life, not as men and women, who are blind to sorrow, misery and shame, but who know your victory over death and cannot but rejoice. Amen.


Dean’s Blog – 25th December 2016

January 2, 2017 in Dean's Blog

The Christmas Season in St Christopher’s Cathedral

Christmas Day: Sunday 25th December 2016

At the midnight service Royal Navy Chaplain Nigel Beardsley celebrated and there were a few other Royal Navy personnel present, and there was a particularly good turn-out from our growing Kenyan community, perhaps a fifth of the total congregation, who are active in inviting friends to join them. During communion they sang the carol God rest you merry gentlemen.
1Once again we had a full church for Christmas morning and were blessed by the musical accompaniment with Mina Iwahashi on piano and Nora Lee playing her viola. Tricia preached on the surpises of God’s choices for his plan of redemption: a teenage mum, conception outside marriage, a birth among animals, a far flung province of the Roman Empire….

2At the end of the service, we were once again visited by the Hussaini Processions band who played a couple of pieces, one seemingly based on the hymn often sung on Trinity Sunday: Holy holy, holy, Lord God almighty and graciously presented us flowers and wished us all a very happy Christmas.

The Christmas Day evening service was very sparsely attended and the traffic heading into Manama at that time was very busy. Having been out to a delicious Christmas family lunch, we hit very heavy traffic coming back and I needed to walk the final few hundred metres as cars were moving so slowly. It was a quiet reflective service to conclude Christmas Day, but important and appreciated by those who came, most of whom had been working through the day. We were glad that we’d decided to hold it.

Christmas Eve Christingle at Cathedral/Crib service at Awali : Saturday 24th December 2016

3As usual we held two services on Christmas eve afternoon: a Crib service at Awali…thankfully we discovered the mystery of the missing Jesus before the Crib service this year. The Roman Catholic priest had him safely locked away in their safe before Christmas Day and a Christingle in the Alun Morris Hall at the Cathedral. We had a good congregation in the Cathedral, but I had a panic to discover at 3pm that the car park was full and a group was not expecting to finish before 7pm, but they were graciously willing to move their
cars to the street behind the Cathedral, which was empty, and clear the car park, allowing those attending the Christingle service space in our car park. The Marshall family provided a musical accompaniment to the carol singing with a brass quartet. 

Fifth Sunday of Advent: Friday 23rd December 2016

4Having celebrated the first Friday/weekend of Advent back at the end of November, we’d run out of Fridays of Advent with no fifth Advent candle to light! I’d already had an e-mail conversation with Paul Davies in Epiphany Church, Doha asking what we were going to do that Friday and I wonder what other churches did in the Gulf… In a much shortened service, we focused on the Annunciation to Mary in Luke’s Gospel as last weekend we had the Annunciation to Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel in our lectionary readings. 5It was lovely too to have Richard Marshall playing the piano and Edward Marshall singing the beautiful carol On the way to Bethlehem. Following the service most of the congregation headed to The Deanery garden to make Christingles in preparation for the Christmas Eve Service the following day.

The New Building Appeal continues to be a source of great encouragement with BD67,000
6given or pledged to be given in the coming year. The various groups who worship on the compound are now beginning to respond too: Maranatha Church pledging BD1,500 a few days ago, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church giving BD1,000 yesterday, and the promise of more to come, and an individual member of another group this morning offering end of year high quality shoes to be sold to support the project, probably through the day on one Friday. There does seem to be an unstoppable momentum to the project, which has caught a wave of enthusiasm which has released a generosity beyond our wildest imagination. Thanks be to God!



Dean’s Blog – December 2016 Pre Christmas

December 23, 2016 in Dean's Blog

Tamil Nativity: Wednesday 21st December 2016

d-001It was a joy to watch the Tamil congregation’s Nativity Play. The children performed with great confidence, the script had been written by Pushpa and the songs put together by Robert and Viji had made the colourful costumes and several others were involved in helping the children – a real community event.


Ecumenical Conference of Charity Christmas Dinner and Party: Monday 19th December 2016

d-002It is always fun to join the ECC Christmas party. As a group they do so much fine work in all sorts of
ways to respond to the needs of poor in Bahrain, but they also enjoy a good party: carols, quizzes, sketches as well as good food. d-003We had been instructed to come in rainbow colours and they had a sketch that highlighted the arguments and antagonism between the different colours, as each one boasted their distinctive merits, until a thunderstorm came and their realization of their need of one another. We took Saskia and Gemma home to Budaiya afterwards and did a detour to show them the amazing Christmas lights at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.


Inspire Christmas Concert: Wednesday 14th December 2016

d-004The Cathedral was ringing with the sounds of Arabic drums to begin the Inspire Christmas Concert, mostly young people of many different nationalities singing Christmas carols. It was impressive seeing young people singing so well with such enthusiasm and lack of self-consciousness and it was good for the Cathedral to host the various choirs that come together under Inspire. Congratulations to them and to Lydia who directs them with such enthusiasm.

Nine Lessons and Carols: Sunday 18th December 2016

Probably joining many churches worldwide, we held our Nine Lessons and Carols on the Sunday a week before Christmas Day. Readers included the British Ambassador, Simon Martin and Captain Tom Guy, Royal Navy, as well as those from our very international community. A group from our Tamil congregation sung a Christmas Tamil lullaby, the Bahrain Barbershop Quartet sang O Holy Night and the Manama singers sang two Latin carols. It was a much appreciated service and finished off with mulled wine and mince pies.

Christmas assembly at St Christopher’s School: Wednesday 14th December 2016

d-005Stephen and I attended the Junior School Christmas Assembly and with Rhona narrating, I
dec-6acted out the story of Nicholas Allan’s Jesus Christmas Party, about a grumpy innkeeper who likes nothing better than a good sleep, but he keeps getting woken up in the middle of the night: first by Mary and Joseph, then by Joseph needing a small blanket, then by shepherds, then by three kings and finally by a star and a chorus of angels. As he sleeps at the top of a steep staircase, each time he has to come down the stairs to answer the call of the visitors. But eventually he himself goes “round the back” and his heart is melted by the baby; the last scene is of him waking all the other guests in the inn to come and see, “so no-one got much rest that night”.

After the assembly Year 2’s presented Stephen winter woollies for the seafarers and a wonderfully generous cheque for BD800 for the work of Mission to Seafarers.



Dean’s Blog – December 2016

December 18, 2016 in Dean's Blog

The role of the Orthodox Church in the Conflict in Ukraine: Sunday November 14th 2016

dec-1Dr Vickie Hudson, a British Academy Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of War Studies at Kings College, London was the speaker at our November Living Room Dialogue, reflecting on the controversial role of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine as it comes under the Moscow Patriarchate. It is clearly a topical subject as a few days later there was an article in the Church Times by Dr Michael Bordeaux on the same subject.

Katie Morag and the Tale of Tiresome Ted: Monday 21st November 2016

dec-2It was a joy to attend the very imaginative Year 2 production of Katie Morag and the Tale of Tiresome Ted at St Christopher’s School. It really evoked a Scottish fishing port. I remember reading Katie Morag stories to our children when they were that age, but I don’t remember Tiresome Ted! Year Twos are collecting winter woollies for the seafarers and all donations from parents were directed towards Mission to Seafarers. As Stephen was attending the MtS regional conference in India, it was an honour to stand in for him. Afterwards I received a call to say that BD800 had been raised, a wonderful collection!

Building Appeal Fund Gift Weekend: 25-27th November 2016

dec-3The Launch of the Building Appeal within the congregation was approached with some trepidation. Would this all be a damp squid and would BD160,000 be way beyond our means. In the end I think we have surprised ourselves and coverwhelmed by the grace of generosity shown by many in our community and beyond, which has really given affirmation that the vision to provide proper children’s space, renewed charity centre space and an interfaith study centre, library and meeting room is right for us at this time. In three weeks over BD63,000 has been pledged or given which takes the total to over BD93,000, or for those who think in other currencies                    (US$ 246,717 or GBP 197,051). There have been a few Hallelujahs around The Deanery as we have seen the total grow and though there is still a journey to travel, we are clearly on the way.

Jason Carter in Concert: Thursday 1st December

dec-4We had a fascinating evening of beautiful and very peaceful music from Jason Carter on his intriguing instrument, a harp guitar. As well as a professional musician, Jason is a traveler and a great raconteur, telling amazing stories of his travels from North Korea for a music festival, where he performed in front of a huge crowd of people all dressed in the same uniform to Finland where he went to a remote rural retreat to compose and where he played Finlandia with a proud Finn standing to attention while he played.

Manama Singers Christmas Concert: Saturday 3rd December2016                                              

dec-6As usual I helped at the Manama Singers Christmas evening concert as front of house, selling tickets. It was a lovely evening of carols, but sadly a small audience for an evening that so many had worked hard for. I suspect that there are so many hotel Christmas tree lighting events – the secular equivalent – that authentic carol services and concerts don’t receive the attention they might have in the past. People missed a lovely evening.

Nativity Play: Friday 9th November 2016

dec-7Another dramatic triumph for our Friday Club children as they presented the Nativity through the eyes and experience of the animals. It gave opportunity for costume designers with doves, sheep, and cows as well as shepherds as angels, stars and a moon. The script was largely related by Andrea and Alice, which meant that the words were heard. A big thank you to Natasha and Sarah, who directed the play this year and who will be taking on leadership of Friday Club in the New Year.

St Christopher’s School Last night of the Proms at the Cultural Hall: Friday 9th November 2016

dec-8The UK/BH 200 years of friendship came to a climax with an evening of wonderful and occasionally patriotic music in the Cultural Hall led by the orchestra and choir of St Christopher’s School with a few additions to the orchestra from the Bahrain Police Band.

I have always wanted to go to a Promenade Concert at the Albert Hall in London, so this was a special treat and included such favourites as the Radetzky March, Elgars Pomp and Circumstance and Henry Wood’s Hornpipe from the Fantasia on British Sea Songs. Thank you to the music staff of St Christopher’s School and all who made it such a memorable evening.