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.








Deans Blog – November 2016

November 14, 2016 in Dean's Blog

Marathon Relay: Friday 28th October 2016

nov-001It’s always good to go down to welcome our Marathon Relay team at the Bahrain International Circuit and there was a great team nov-002spirit this year thanks to the advance planning and organization of our non-running Captain, who would like to make return to running next year, Natasha Prince. So congratulations to her and to all the team for a great run.


Eleonora Stanevich Piano Recital: Thursday 3rd November 2016


The brilliant Belarusian pianist Eleonora Stanevich brought our cathedral piano to life with her playing at the first concert of the academic year. It was a very varied programme and included works by works by JS Bach, Robert Schumann, Frederic Chopin, and Franz Liszt. We had a very appreciative audience of over fifty people including a number of Eleonora’s students who had received a Masterclass from their teacher. I especially enjoyed the two pieces by Chopin.



Family service with St Chris’ Rockers: Friday 4th November 2016

 nov-004Our occasional band including three of our talented young musicians on piano, bass guitar and drums led our worship for the Friday Family Service. The theme of the service was based on the dramatic story Elijah and the prophets of Baal which three readers read dramatically from The Fount Children’s Bible with the congregation joining together with The Lord is God, The Lord alone is God as the Lord answers the prayer of Elijah with fire and the long-standing drought in Israel comes to an end. As the story concludes: it was a hard day for Ahab – caught by fire and water in the same afternoon.


Conversations with the Old Testament: Friday 4th November 2016

nov-006nov-007It seemed an opportunity that was too good to miss Friday 4th November 2016 as Archdeacon John Holdsworth was with us for the weekend, to meet together as our Exploring Faith group with the author of the textbook that we are using for the current module on the Old Testament. We made it an open meeting with John talking on the more general theme What is the point of the Old Testament? After a delicious lunch in Angela and Mick’s home John introduced the subject which was followed by some lively discussion. Everyone who was there found it really helpful to have the author present to respond to some of the challenges of studying his book over these past months. It was a very positive afternoon.

Selection Conference: 5-6th November 2015

Five selectors and three candidates (sadly one had visa problems and failed to get to Bahrain) came together for an intensive two days of worship, interviews (each candidate had five half hour interviews), group exercises, preaching, and a written exercise.

All is aimed at enabling candidates to articulate their vocation to ordained ministry and for selectors to listen deeply and seek to discern together God’s calling in relation to the candidates’ gifts and potential. Despite its intensity, it was a relaxed time together as the two days were punctuated by meals out and brought to The Deanery, where we met for every event except our worship. I have responsibility of chairing the selection panel, setting the various exercises and helping the group of selectors come to a consensus recommendation to the Bishop and Elizabeth George, as Secretary, writes up the reports and recommendation for the Bishop. It was a very positive experience for both candidates and selectors and as I said at the beginning of the two days, it is not about success and failure, but about discerning God’s will for both individuals and the Church. 

Visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to Bahrain: November 9-11th 2016

nov-008St Christopher’s Cathedral was invited to send an international delegation to meet with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at an interfaith gathering at the Hindu Temple in the Manama Souq. There has been a Hindu community here for more than 200 years, so five of us representing nov-10five Commonwealth countries and all Cathedral Council members – Robert from India, Jacquie from Kenya, Sulo from Sri Lanka, Fozia from South Africa and I from the United Kingdom walked in to the nov-009

souq from the cathedral, having been warned that roads would be closed down. We were placed in different clusters around tables and I was asked to take the lead at our table when the Duchess came. I had a challenging protocol issue as just before the Duchess came to our cluster, the Bahrain Foreign Minister asked me to come and speak to the Crown Prince as he had been at St Christopher’s School, when it was sited next to the Cathedral; so I was not present when the Duchess came to our table, but nov-11
managed to slip back into the cluster. On his way out the Prince stopped and asked if I was the Anglican priest and had a brief conversation.

Later that day I attended a reception at the British Embassy and had a good time talking to students at both Nadeem School and the British School of Bahrain. Both schools had excellent displays on recycling and were very articulate about the importance of care for the environment. I have since sent information about the Arab Youth Climate Change movement, a group of Bahraini young people, who also have a passion for the environment. I was placed in an Education and Cultural cluster around table 13 – that seems to be the way the Royals meet everyone – including the principals of St Christopher’s School and the British School of Bahrain, who’d both chosen hymns for last week’s Songs of Praise. Again the Duchess came to our cluster and talked to each of us in turn around the horseshoe. It must require the gift of attending and really listening to people given the constant presence of entourage with them and the need to give only a short time to each person.

nov-12nov-13On Friday I was responsible for being the lead minister at the Service of Remembrance, this year at the British Embassy, with my colleagues Stephen and the Royal Navy Chaplain, Nigel Beardsley. We met the Prince of Wales at the back garden gate and had the opportunity to talk before moving to the front of the Embassy for the Act of Remembrance. W

We began the Friday morning service a quarter of an hour earlier – only a few people arrived surprised at 9.30am – and were finished by 10.00am, which enabled both Stephen and I nov-14nov-15and a large number of the congregation to be at the Embassy in good time. Ambassadors, senior military officers from several navies and a broad cross-section of the community were present and very sensibly this year, and I hope to be repeated in future, following the laying of wreaths by the Prince, in the uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, and one by the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, clusters of three brought their wreaths forward rather than each one doing it singly.

As there was no PA system, and there must have been nearly 200 people present, we had to throw our voices, but those who were at the back said that we could be heard clearly, but my voice is a little ragged this morning.