Dean’s Blog October 2016

October 12, 2016 in Dean's Blog

A Harvest Festival Weekend: Friday 31st September – Sunday 2nd October 2016
001A big thank you for all your gifts for the Harvest Festival – a wonderful response- which will be directed to those who are needy through the work of ECC (Ecumenical Conference of Charity) volunteers and through Stephen and his ministry to seafarers with Mission to Seafarers.



002On the Saturday evening of the weekend we held our usual World Harvest Supper and Barn Dance, which is always such an enjoyable event as we are such an international church family and barn dancing particularly has an uncanny knack of mixing everybody up without anyone noticing. The food from different parts of the globe is always an amazing experience too.


Visit of Chaplain of the Fleet : Friday 7th October 2016

003It was good to welcome the Chaplain of the Fleet and Archdeacon of the Royal Navy, the Venerable Ian Wheatley, to our Friday morning all-age Family Service with the relatively newly arrived Bahrain-based Royal Navy Chaplain, the Rev’d Nigel Beardsley, who has befriended our Sunday evening congregation especially. After coffee we were able to talk and I was able to highlight that we were able to provide the continuity in the rapidly turning over military community and to provide a homely community where those who are away from their families can find family.

004I was particularly struck on Friday afternoon of the desperate need for dedicated space for the childrenof church communities on our compound when I came across one group meeting in a storeroom.

005Another group was in the Gerald Green room – 12 young people and two adults. It makes me realize that the launch of our new Building Project in November cannot come too soon.

Living Room Dialogue: Sunday 9th October 2016

006Nearly thirty people came together for a Living Room Dialogue in The Deanery to hear Vicky Honar, a nurse, midwife and consultant lactologist speak about her experiences of volunteering in refugee camps in Greece encouraging and giving support to mothers in breastfeeding their babies. Breast feeding she said was her passion and she has led several groups in Bahrain. She has been to Greece twice with the charity Nurture Project International and plans to go again in 2017.

It was especially encouraging to have several new people join us, who clearly felt that such a forum to engage with a variety of issues is very valuable.




Dean’s Blog September 2016

September 27, 2016 in Dean's Blog

It has been the strangest starts to the new academic year which always feels like the beginning of the Church year after the long summer break. As soon as children went back to school, they were off again some for a whole week with Eid and it no doubt it will be the same at Ashura. It has meant a rather 001bitty start, but it has been good over the past few weeks to welcome several individuals and families and only time will tell if they will remain with us at the Cathedral/Awali or find another church community that suits them better. All we can do is be ourselves and welcome people warmly and be as supportive as we can to those starting life in a new place.

On the final Wednesday evening get-together of the summer we showed Chariots of Fire, a suitable post-Olympic choice of movie. About thirty crowded into The Deanery for biryani, and ice cream and to watch the 1981 Oscar winning movie.

002Over Eid we held a picnic, kindly hosted by David and Sara, George and Charlie, in the Layla Gardens compound. More than double the numbers came than signed up – nearly 70 – but as people brought their own picnics and shared them, there was plenty to go round and there was a lovely mix of people from both our English-speaking and Tamil- speaking congregations and we were able to welcome and integrate

some who are new to our community.

Autumn clean: Saturday 24th September 2016

003A big thank you to our cleaning team who volunteered to do a special autumn clean of the cathedral for all their hard work. I had to use the excuse of going to the service at Awali, but we are grateful for all that was accomplished.

Monday 26th September 2016

A very varied day that included meeting with someone new to Bahrain willing and with the skills to take on running the concert programme, which I am delighted about. Watch this space!

In the afternoon, at the Salmabad Cemetery, I took the funeral of Ken Foxall who had lived in Bahrain for 62 years, for much of his working life in BAPCO, where he was a great encourager of training and

enabling Bahrainis to take on responsibilities in the company. He had adopted a Bahraini family and they had clearly adopted him as honorary godfather to the children and grandchildren.

004In the evening I had a Skype conference with a professor, Alvin Lingenfelter and five students doing a course on Global Christianity. What an enlightened way of using the technology to engage with the worldwide Church! It was a very stimulating conversation covering a range of topics and it may be followed up with email correspondence if further issues need teasing out further.


Bahrain in August: August 2016

August 24, 2016 in Dean's Blog

We returned to Bahrain on 28th July, overlapping with Stephen Thanapaul, my colleague, for 24 hours, before he headed off to India for his leave and the following day was preaching at the Friday morning service.

August is generally a quiet month and a very hot one with temperatures regularly in the forties. Awali Church closes down with the start of school holidays at the beginning of July and we concentrate forces at the cathedral. But our Tamil community gives a different dynamic as the Tamil congregation does not disperse to the four corners of the earth as much as the English-speaking congregation.

Bahrain in AugustIt gives time for doing different things and in particular I have been researching and writing an entry on Bahrain for a Dictionary of Christianity in the Global South, which I was asked to do several months ago. It is fascinating discovering the pre-Islamic presence of a Christian Church, of a monastery in Al Dair ( which means monastery or cloister in Aramaic) and a Bishop of the Nestorian Church resident in Bahrain in the 7thC. The mosque in Al Dair is apparently known as the Monk’s Mosque even today though there is no visible sign of its former use. Fascinating to read too of the arrival of the Arabian Mission in the 1890’s and the part Amy (nee Wilkes) Zwemer an Anglican CMS missionary from Sydney, Australia who established the first school Acorn School, the roots of Al Raja School now. It has been interesting too to interview those who are ‘indigenous’ Christians to Bahrain, though most of these have arrived here from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine, when oil was discovered and took on Bahraini citizenship when that was possible

On Wednesday evenings we have had regular evenings out usually a meal together drawing up to twenty people to The banana Bahrain in Augustleaf, and David’s Stir Fry Crazy and we had a wonderful family outing to see the movie Finding Dory. This coming week we are going Bowling at Dana Mall and the following we’ll conclude with Biryani and watching the DVD of Chariots of Fire that Simon mentioned in his sermon at the weekend, reflecting on the Olympics and the healing on the Sabbath.

Bahrain in AugustThere was some excitement in the compound when a snake was seen in the car park of the compound, the first I have seen in nearly seven years, but having checked the internet it looks as though it is a rat snake, so if it is eating the occasional rat and that seems quite a challenge for the relatively slim fellow, I’m all in favour of it staying. I have not seen a mongoose for a few years either; we used to have  regular visitor.


Bahrain in AugustWeddings have continued over the summer and I had three in the space of a few days. One between twoBahrain in August hotel managers resulted in the church being filled with flowers. The congregation were a little surprised to find the altar rail covered in flowers the next day though the aisle flowers and archway and main displays had all moved on to their reception.


Summer Leave: July 2016

August 24, 2016 in Dean's Blog

For the first time for many years we headed off for our summer leave at the end of June rather than august, primarily so Summer Leavewe Summer Leavecould attend our son-in-law, Dan’s ordination on Sunday 3rd July in St Alban’s Cathedral, a proud and very happy occasion followed by a picnic lunch in a lovely garden on a beautiful sunny day. We both robed, which freed up some family seats for others in the cathedral, which was packed for the occasion. We were able to hear Dan preach his first sermon in St Mary’s, Hitchin, where he is serving as a part-time curate as well as giving oversight to a pioneering church The Hub that meets in a bar of a small theatre and also had the opportunity to visit Alex in Youthscape, the converted flour mill in Luton, which is now fully up and running and meet some of the young Summer Leaveleaders. Later this week will be visited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, an indication of the good work that they are doing.

Summer LeaveFrom St Alan’s we flew to Cork and spent a week in a little octagonal cottage near Bantry, deep in the south-west of Ireland  that we’d booked through airbnb – in fact almost everywhere we stayed was through airbnb and Alex and Philippa joined us for a long weekend. We hit a classical music festival in Bantry and attended two lovely afternoon concerts in a local church. We also bumped into Rob Millner, now teaching in Abu Dhabi. He came into the café, where we were catching up on our Summer Leaveemails, looked at Tricia and said “you look awfully like the wife of a priest in Bahrain!” I’d just appointed Rob as our part-time Music Director when the troubles of February 2011 hit Bahrain and sadly he had to leave as his job folded. We had another unexpected meeting later in the holiday, when we were having a bite to eat in an Italian restaurant in Rochester, Kent and I overheard in an adjacent table’s conversation: “Archdeacons of Cyprus and the Gulf”. I turned to see Harry Ching, newly ordained in Nicosia and leading the church in Famagusta, Cyprus! We loved exploring that part of Ireland and seeing the seals off the coast and enjoying our cosy cottage.

From Limerick, we returned to Alex and Dan and in particular helped Philippa, our youngest move out Summer Leaveof her flat in London as she prepared for her move to Australia via some travels in south-east Asia. Philippa hadn’t driven for sometime so launching out in London and immediately having to cross a very busy road in the largest vehicle that she’d ever driven was a big challenge, but one she accomplished and gave her confidence to get behind the wheel again, if she needs to, in Australia.


Summer LeaveWe then had our final ten days in “a cottage” – the end part of a wing of an old manor house in Summer LeaveChilham, near Canterbury in Kent. It had a lovely garden and on several occasions we would eat out in the garden, on one occasion with friends from our previous parish. We also met up with Carol Byers, who’d just moved from the Scottish Borders to West Malling, so we were able to visit her in her lovely new home.


We took the train up to London on one occasion and met up with the Rev’d Summer LeaveBertrand Olivier, who had generously run the London Marathon on behalf of our Building Project, so I dressed up for a photo op of the handing over of the cheque in All Hallows-by-the Tower, just adjacent to the Tower of London. The last time we were there was for an interview for my present post!


Memorial service for Akeem Lawal: Saturday 11th June 2016

June 13, 2016 in Dean's Blog

Akeem LawalAkeem was a familiar face in the Cathedral Office and on Friday mornings and he became the focus of considerable support following renal failure, the need for regular dialysis and the plan to get a kidney transplant. Fund-raising events not only raised money, but brought people who would not have known one another in the normal course of life together: from Nigeria, and the African continent, Asia, America and Europe. Once sufficient funds had been raised he went to India in preparation for a kidney transplant; his sister, who was to be a donor was to follow but very sadly he died of heart failure in India before his sister arrived.

His Memorial service at the Cathedral also brought a breadth of people together from “his family in Bahrain.” Several people reflected briefly on his life, Fozia, our Administrator, and Esther from Kenya, who organized an early fund-raising event, read Bible passages and Jon Lavelle who had co-ordinated fund-raising for Akeem, preached reflecting particularly on the experience of Job and the mystery of suffering, but also highlighting the vision of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, from which people from every nation were drawn into. Pastor Joshua, from a Nigerian church community, led some prayers and the President of Nigerians in Bahrain thanked all who had given Akeem support, both individuals and organizations. Perhaps the most moving part of the service was the singing, without accompaniment, of How great Thou art.