March 15, 2015 in Dean's Blog
H.E. Hatun Demirer, the Turkish Ambassador to Bahrain, was the speaker at our Living Room Dialogue on the Syria-Iraq Crisis from a Turkish perspective and a good audience came to listen to her. From the start she made it clear that she didn’t want it to be a speech and would welcome questions and discussion as she made her presentation which made for a lively evening. She provided a number of helpful maps and diagrams, highlighting the challenge of securing 900 miles of border with Iraq and Syria. She also emphasized the hospitable stance towards refugees that Turkey had shown and the fact that UNHCR figures show that Turkey has the largest number of refugees from this conflict than any other country. One frightening diagram she had reproduced from the Washington Post highlighting the numbers and from where people had gone to fight in Syria: in their thousands from North Africa, Saudi Arabia and Jordan but also 488 from the UK, 412 from France and 130 from the US. Turkey is a major tourist destination too and, without the sharing of intelligence, it is very hard to identify those who are potential fighters.
March 15, 2015 in Dean's Blog
With an inspection coming up and the school on red alert, I was invited to come and lead the St Christopher’s School Easter Assembly rather earlier than normal. I used a freebie that came with the Church Times and produced by the Bible Society – The First Easter – a simple, but well told and straightforward story from A Child’s Bible retold by Sally Ann Wright and threw up pictures from the booklet in a powerpoint.
March 11, 2015 in Dean's Blog
Returning to Bahrain late on Tuesday night I was plunged straight in with an audience with His Majesty the King with representatives of several expatriate societies under the umbrella of This is Bahrain. There have been gatherings and exhibitions in London and Brussels and the next one, sometime in May, is in Paris, so this was an interfaith delegation from Paris including the President of Imams, the Chief Rabbi and a Roman Catholic Priest, who has been involved in interfaith issues. Jon Lavelle and I attended a Dinner in the evening at the Ritz Carlton Hotel sitting with a group from the French community including the Director of Alliance Francaise.
March 10, 2015 in Dean's Blog
Tricia flew out on to join me for a few days exploring Jordan. What a dense concentration of history and varied geology in a relatively small country. Schadi, a former student at the Theodore Schneller School, who now teaches some mechanics, was our driver. He took us to the Roman ruins at Jerash, Mount Nebo, where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land before he died (Deuteronomy 34), and Madaba, which has the oldest map in the Middle East in mosaics on the church floor. We spent two nights in the remarkable hidden Nabatean city of Petra, walking up the several hundred steps to the monastery and resisting all persuasions to ride a donkey, but succumbing for a cup of tea with Rosa, who seems famous in the guidebooks for her hospitality. We then travelled on to Wadi Rum, staying in a touristy Bedouin encampment, but before that having a meal in a Bedouin home before a 4×4 tour of the stunning scenery of the area, the sand and rock formations changing their colours as the sun setted. Finally we drove to Aqaba staying with the Mission to Seafarers Chaplain, Adam Boulter and his delightful family. It was fun to take them out for a meal in an “English” pub, read the children bedtime stories and Tricia and Adam found much to talk about in the fields of Art and Theology. Adam is a gifted artist with a current exhibition on Jesus’ temptations in St Margaret’s Church Westminster and Tricia has recently been accepted for a PhD at the University of Birmingham bringing together her interests in art and theology.
March 5, 2015 in Dean's Blog
It’s not often you have the opportunity of listening or being listened to over a period of a few days, but that is the process of a selection Conference for those exploring vocation to ordained ministry in the Anglican Church, all in the context of shared meals and worship. I had responsibility of chairing the conference, sorting the programme, preparing orders of service for worship, organizing rotas and giving thought to various exercises for discussion and writing. All in all it was a very happy and purposeful few days. Our meeting took place in the Guesthouse of the Theodore Schneller School, which had all the facilities that we needed.