Dean’s Blog – Blessing of a Home – July 2018

July 16, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Blessing of a home

At the Front Door

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3: 20)


Living Room  

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ (Luke 6: 36-38)



In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.                       (Psalm 127: 2)



You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you. (Joel 2: 26)



“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?  (Job 28:12)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will  (Romans 12: 2)


Family Prayer said together

Lord, I want to thank you for this precious family of ours and for the talents and good things that you have given each of us. Please keep us united, and our bond strong as the days pass. Please guide us, protect us and equip us to do your will each and every day. Thank you for all that you are, and all that you have given us and may your blessing rest on our new home for the glory of your name, Amen.


Dean’s Blog – June 2018

July 5, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Gulf Clergy Gathering: Tuesday 5th June –Thursday 7th June 2018

001Several of the Gulf Clergy and two spouses met at the Al Mana Centre in Muscat, Oman from 5th to 7th June at the invitation of the Chaplain, the Rev’d Chris Howitz, and the Executive Director of the centre the Rev’d Aaro Rytkonen, a Lutheran pastor from Finland.

Some were accommodated at the centre, while others were generously hosted by families in Muscat.

The programme began with an introduction to the interfaith and cross-cultural work of the Al Mana Centre by the Executive Director, including a session on Scriptural reasoning; time reflecting together on some of the pastoral issues that we share in common in the Gulf chaplaincies; and some reflection on our needs for lay training in our chaplaincies and what resources are available.

On the final morning we visited the beautiful Grand Mosque, its cloisters and gardens.

We are very grateful to Chris Howitz for all his hard work in co-ordinating all the arrangements, to Aaro Rytkonen for the time he gave and Archdeacon Bill for keeping us focused for the two days. Sadly not all were able to make it but those who did appreciated this refreshing time together.


A Lifetime of Landscape Gardening:  Sunday 10th June 2018

002A regular member of our Sunday evening congregation, landscape gardener John Davies, was the speaker at this month’s St Christopher’s Cathedral Living Room Dialogue. John began his career serving as a gardener in public parks in Manchester, and this had a deep impact on him creating beautiful spaces that were open for all, but has since created gardens for private customers here in Bahrain, where he has been resident for many years, in Saudi Arabia, in Abu Dhabi but also in Nigeria, the Seychelles and India. In particular he reflected on the spiritual dimension of his work, interacting with the beauty of both the physical world and an architect’s design.

Living Room Dialogues take a break for the summer, when so many people are away but resume in October.


Bishop’s Council/ Standing Committee in Cyprus: Thursday 14th June 2018

One of the facets of our Diocese is that diocesan meetings have to take place a flight away, so for an all day meeting to discuss the Diocesan Constitution and its implications for individual chaplaincies I had to travel to Cyprus for three days returning on Friday evening. Not the most exciting meeting, but an important one to work through the governance of the Diocese and its chaplaincies and I was able to blow away a few cobwebs with three swims in the sea which was an added bonus.


School events and Farewells to Ed Goodwin and Wendy Bataineh: June 2017

003004At this time of the year there are a stream of St Christopher’s School events to which Governors are invited. It is impossible to get to everything, but this year I have attended the Junior and Infant Summer Concert;  Prefect Interviews – meeting some very gifted and articulate young people over a morning; a celebration of achievement for Years 6 and seven and a production of Alice in the Senior School. In addition there has been a Governors Board Meeting and a couple of farewells to Ed Goodwin and Wendy Bataineh, who have given so much  as Principal and Head of the Junior school over so many years (23 and 16 respectively). After all the farewells that they have received in recent weeks, they will, I’m sure, be exhausted. But all good wishes to them as they retire to Northumberland and thanks for their wholehearted and distinguished service to St Christopher’s School and the lives of many individuals who have attended the school over the years.



Recycling Container emptied: Saturday 30th June 2018

005It has been a great encouragement to see the recycling bin introduced into the compound just a month ago fill up and to know that all the bottles in the bin would have ended up in landfill with all the damage done to the environment. It’s a small contribution but one realizes that in working together we can multiply the effect and begin to change the culture. When I go for a walk in the morning now I take a bag with me to collect plastic bottles on the street and in the cemetery adjacent to the Cathedral and have never brought back less than 55 bottles!



Sister Act:  Wednesday 4th July

006The first of the summer programme events took place this evening with a meal- which turned into a feast as everyone brought something to share, though it was catered for! But a good evening and everyone seemed to enjoy both the food and the movie, both adults and young people.These summer evenings are I believe important both to keep a sense of community over the summer when so many are away but also to welcome and integrate those who are new. It also gives an opportunity to invite those unconnected to the church community at present. I’m glad the first evening fulfilled all those functions.



Dean’s Blog – May 2018

June 6, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Change of Speakers: Sunday 13th May 2018                                                                                                                            

001Our Living Room Dialogue speaker had to pull out at rather short notice but a few days before I had had an email from Dr Monika Nagel, who attends worship at the Anglican Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia who was keen to connect with the community here. 002I invited her to the St Christopher’s Day Dinner and at short notice she was willing to speak at the Living Room Dialogue and then later to the Monday Women’s homegroup and on both occasions provoked lively conversation and debate. She has an academic background in education and organizational psychology, is trained in Carl Rogers’ client-centred counseling theory but as well as teaching has worked in administration in the car industry, designing and dress-making. She has written a book Fatal Cocktails where she explores her interest in social behavior and the decline in peoples’ values.


Royal Wedding: Saturday 19th May 2018

003Like many we sat down to watch the Royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle and was really delighted by it:  004the use Common Worship a first for a Royal Wedding, the conscious mix of people involved in the service, the wonderful traditional choral music balanced by a great gospel choir and a terrific address from Bishop Michael Curry, which has caused people to talk about not hats and frocks (and there were some dramatic examples of those) but about love and faith. The day after and sat down and wrote some questions based on  his address which both our homegroups used:


 Questions to reflect on the sermon

  1. “The power of love, the redemptive power of love….” What do you think Dr Martin Luther King meant by this…. Can you give examples of the redemptive power of love making the old world a new world?
  2. How can we “over-sentimentalize love?” On an occasion like a (royal) wedding is there a temptation to do this?
  3. Michael Curry points to God as the source of love (1 John 4: 7-8). What difference does this make for you?
  4. When Michael Curry says “love is not only about a young couple…. and we all showed up”, what more is love about both for Harry and Meghan and for all who shared in the experience of the service live or on TV?
  5. Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history” In what ways has that revolution changed the world and how could it further change the world in which we live? How can you be a part of that revolution?
  6. Michael Curry quotes the line of the spiritual The Balm of Gilead, that declares that all of us can be witnesses, even if we cannot preach like Peter or pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all. What has been your experience of others sharing this message in their lives and words and how can you share that unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love with others?
  7. Michael Curry encourages us to think and imagine a world where love is the way.


Iftar Meal at Lanterns Restaurant: Tuesday 29th May 2018

005The Cathedral Council decided to have one Iftar Meal, so more than twenty attended a lovely buffet meal at Lanterns restaurant on the Budaiya Highway, a good opportunity to come together, to welcome some who were visiting Bahrain for a short spell of work filling in at the US Embassy.

006It was a foretaste of the summer programme of events that we plan to organize in July and August, to hold what becomes a rather fragmented community over the hot  months, while so many people are away. The hot summer has really arrived: temperatures well into the forties centigrade in the beginning of June and in our car saying it’s 48 degrees with an air conditioner that is clearly struggling.


Arrival of Recycling Bin: Saturday 2nd June 2018

007After much debate in the Cathedral Council and delay caused by the wrong bins being delivered to the recycling company, a smart new recycling bin has arrived on the compound and the first bottle posted into the bin. I rang the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to ask them to make use of it on Sunday morning and this morning on early morning walk around the Manama Cemetery I took a bag and collected 55 bottles!


008Looking ahead,  this is an opportunity for us to educate our children and young people and for them to educate us.   Our Friday Club will be using material recently produced by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network/ Green   – Oceans-of-Plastic  –  in September leading up to our Harvest Festival in October.  Harvest is a time when we particularly give thanks to God for the gift of the world and all that it produces, and we will use the opportunity to reflect on our abuse of our world and how we can begin in small ways to address that.


Wedding: Stephen and Mwikali: Saturday 2nd June 2018

Meeting together with Stephen from the US and Mwikali from Kenya a few weeks ago, I felt it would be good to connect them with Rob and Catherine (a UK/Kenya marriage), as I said to Catherine you Kenyans marrying Wazungu need to stick together. So it was lovely to hear that they had got together and that on her wedding day Mwikali changed into her wedding finery at their home and was driven to the Cathedral. and Rob on behalf of Mwikali’s family gave her away and Catherine was clearly acting in the role of Matron of honour. It was a lovely occasion and they went out to a song sung by the Kenya Boys Choir.


Dean’s Blog – May 2018

May 17, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Public holiday in Bahrain: Tuesday 1st May 2018

001It’s a public holiday in Bahrain and many of the church groups that use our compound are having services today. At 7am there were excited gatherings of people and our own Tamil-speaking congregation had a day out based in a villa in Janabiyah, rented out for such functions. It had all that was required: places to sit, and tables to eat at; a quiet street in which to play competitive cricket, though several balls must have gone missing, and a small swimming pool with a shallower paddling pool for younger children. I headed down there in time to join the cricket, have a swim and share in lunch, an excellent meal served on banana leaves and eaten with fingers, which saved a lot of washing up and spared the environment of plastic plates and cutlery. I learnt which way the banana leaf should be folded at the end of the meal, (topside over the lower side) though apparently at funerals it is the opposite way. An enjoyable day!


Violin and flute Duo: Thursday 3rd May 2018

002Two fine musicians: David Hlawiczka on violin and Ahmed Al Ghanem on flute combined together for a concert of beautiful music before a small, but very appreciative, audience at St Christopher’s Cathedral. Their programme included a repertoire of pieces by Furstenau, Gluck Wetzger, Loeillet, WF Bach and Beethoven. They finished with an encore – Traumerie by Schumann as they wished the audience to leave with good dreams.




Cyprus – Retreat and Meetings: Sunday 6th – Thursday 10th May 2018

003One of the joys of going to Cyprus for diocesan meetings is that it occasionally provides an opportunity to spend a couple of days to stay at Katafiyio, the Diocesan retreat house in Kapedes, a village in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains. It’s a very calm environment, providing quiet for prayer, reflection and study, and opportunities for walks out in the hills. 004I went back to a book I’d not read for a while, The Go-between God,  a classic work on the Holy Spirit and Christian Mission by John V Taylor, and had opportunity to continue reading about The Romanovs, a lengthy, but very readable, history about the Russian royal family by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I am grateful to The Diocese for their commitment to Katafiyio and to Maggie le Roy and the Barnabas team for their encouragement of people to use it and Adrian and Stella for their gracious care of it and those who use it.



St Christopher’s Day Dinner: Friday 11th May 2018 

005Our ninth St Christopher’s Day Dinner took place in the British Club and once again we had a over a hundred people attending what was a good three-course dinner for a very reasonable price and with an excellent speaker. This year we welcomed Marietta Dias, a founder member and now the Chairperson of the Migrant Workers Protection Society, which has gained such respect in Bahrain for its work both to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers from many different countries and seek to respond to their needs, including the running of a women’s shelter. 006

For the first time this year, following the speaker and some time to absorb Marietta’s challenges to us as a community to be among those who respond to the needs of migrant workers, we had a disco which several people enjoyed including our speaker.


Dr Monika Nagel: Sunday 13th May

007When I was in Cyprus I got a message that our Living Room Dialogue speaker could not make it for Sunday, but I am grateful that Dr Monika Nagel, a visiting occupational psychologist from Perth, Western Australia, was willing to step in at short notice and a lively discussion followed her presentation. She is the author of Fatal Cocktails  and her interest is social behaviour and a decline in peoples’ (especially in the Westernized world) values is the most crucial factor for causing so many dilemmas around the world.



Sandstorms hit Bahrain

008For several days we have been hit by sandstorms and the papers have been full of warnings of the need to keep inside, especially if you have allergies to dust. Mostly I can keep inside but like many others I’m sure I have been struggling with the dust and am currently without much voice. It’s meant I have been able to catch up on a few other things – including updating this blog- though by the afternoon I need to rest for a while.


Dean’s Blog – April 2018

May 2, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Easter Monday Wedding: Monday 2nd April 2018

001002The Cathedral was full of flowers for the wedding of a member of the Mar Thoma Church to  a lawyer from London who was also from the Mar Thoma Church and it was made very special by the presence of His grace Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Supreme Head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. I didn’t attend the service but met with him following the service.



Meeting with US Congress House of Representatives delegates: Monday 2nd April 2018

For the second week in a row I have met with a group from the US Congress visiting Bahrain. These are visits arranged through the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I have prepared a powerpoint of photographs that highlight Bahrain’s diversity of faith communities and simply speak about my experience of leading a faith community in Bahrain. As they were running half an hour late, we could not meet in the Cathedral as this would have clashed with arriving wedding guests but they came into our living room.

 Birthday party: Thursday 5th April 2018

Travelling down the Budaiya highway we had a very unpleasant experience. A young man stepped into the road armed with tyres forcing me to stop very suddenly, and following on close behind was another with a large can of petrol. I made the decision to put the foot on the accelerator going over the tyres, which in seconds would have been ablaze. I think if I had not taken this action the car itself would have been part of the inferno. On our return we could see the scorch marks on the road.

But we had a very happy celebration of Saskia’s 23rd birthday in a restaurant further down the Budaiya Highway with a group of her friends mostly from the Cathedral.

Formula One Grand Prix: 6-8th February 2018

003004As we’d never been to the Grand Prix since we’d been in Bahrain and as I was not on the rota to preach on Sunday evening, and we were given (yes given! three day tickets) we headed down to the International Circuit, not sure if we would enjoy it, but with a sense of excitement in the festive air surrounding the race. We were in seats in the grandstand just above the start so, had an excellent view of the action. It was not as noisy as I had expected and feared and found that I could survive without ear plugs and the action around the race – the street performers, the concert the relaxed sitting around and enjoying simple food – made it an experience to remember. 005We particularly enjoyed the friendly bunch of East African gymnasts – we met performers from Kenya and Tanzania –  and a lively band of drummers from Columbia who through everything into their performances. And the fireworks that marked the end of the race were spectacular.

Bahrain is rightly proud to be able to put on such a prestigious event and the lack of alcohol made it all the more a family festival.


US Independence Day Celebration / Queen’s Birthday party  17th/18th April 2018

006Two festive national events on consecutive days: the first at the Four Seasons Hotel was a very early celebration of US Independence Day (Ramadan and the hot summer is approaching)  in a packed ballroom, spilling out onto the expansive terrace looking over the water to The Avenues, Bahrain’s latest experience for shopping.

007The Queen’s Birthday Party was held in the wonderful British Embassy Garden in the heart of Manama and featured as its theme the Queen’s marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh and had as the focus of its decoration a series of cakes made like the Queen’s hats. The lighting of the hedges – in red white and blue – was particularly effective too.

These occasions provide an opportunity to meet with all sorts of people and I was especially glad to meet the Philippines Ambassador and to invite him to our annual St Christopher’s Day Dinner, where the focus will be on the plight of migrant workers.


Party in the Park: Friday 20th April 2018

008009If two big parties in a week was not enough, we were delighted to attend a farewell for the principal of St Christopher’s School, Ed Goodwin and the head of the Junior School, Wendy Bataineh in what was a spectacular open air concert on the St Christopher’s sports fields in Saar. It was a magnificent event with all sorts of music groups – bands, orchestras, as well as individual musicians and duos taking part, a real showcase for the school in honouring long and faithful service to the school. It was an honour to be there and to share in the celebrations with over a thousand people.


Church of South India South Kerala 5th Anniversary: Saturday 21st April 2018 

010I was honoured to be invited to the Church of South India South Kerala Diocese celebration of their fifth anniversary as a congregation in Bahrain with a special Thanksgiving Service in the Cathedral during which three babies were baptised. The guest preacher was the Rev’d DL Paulson, who did his Masters in theology at trinity college Bristol, one of the Church of England’s Theological Colleges.  He serves as the Bishop’s Secretary and had come from India for the occasion. I was struck by the number of families and children there were which re-enforces the need to press on with our Building Project, not just for our own young people but the other groups that use our compound.


Meal out with friends: Monday 23rd April 2018

012We had a wonderful Thai meal out in the simplicity of the Banana Leaf Restaurant, one of our favourite places with Mockbul Ali, Deputy British Ambassador and Sajeda and Shareef and Janet whose wedding at the Cathedral I had taken recently. The laughter was such that the waiters had to quieten us down! Next time fish and chips we gather…



 St Christopher’s Music Festival: Wednesday 25th April 2018

It was a joy to attend the St Christopher’s Music festival finals and to witness such talent from across the community. St Christopher’s has such high quality results and gained most of the top prizes but as Andy Holman organizing his fifth and last festival said: “all who’d reached the Finals were gold medal winners.” But it was good to see the Philippines School compete so strongly with two excellent choirs and a young drummer attending the British School won everyone’s hearts with his enthusiasm and professionalism and cool outlook on life as he gave the judge a high five on receiving his trophy.

Farewell meal with Tryphena: Thursday 26th April 2018

013It’s been lovely to see Tryphena growing up in both the English-speaking and then Tamil-speaking congregation over the years that we have been here and now she’s finished her final school exams and is heading to Madurai to study English literature in a Christian college there. It was lovely to have a meal at Stephen and Jasmine’s home to say goodbye to her and to wish her well in the coming years. We gave her one of the Jerusalem cross necklaces as a reminder of her years in Bahrain and it was lovely to see her wearing it at the service the next day.



Cathedral/Awali AGM: Friday 27th April 2018

014A lot of unnecessary worry goes into the preparations for the AGM, but probably all of us have been involved in meetings where someone has an axe to grind and you never quite know what might come up under Any Other Business, but in the end all went very smoothly: the meeting was quorate, people listened and everybody seemed content and happy. The big challenge for the Council is surely to see through the Building Project, in the coming year hopefully, and it was good to hear of progress on that front.

Stations of the Resurrection: Sunday 29th April 2018

015Stations of the Cross are something that we are all familiar with: we have them around the walls of the Cathedral and during Monday to Wednesday during Holy week we set up 14 Stations that we follow round the compound, leading finally to the tomb where Jesus is laid.

This was my first experience of following Stations of the Resurrection, a service in Common Worship: Times and Seasons and using as a basis for many of the reflections, Andrew Walker’s book Journey into Joy. Choosing verses for hymns was an interesting challenge – we did not have time for many whole hymns – but generally the service was widely appreciated and used thirteen readers for the different stations.