November 14, 2016 in Dean's Blog
Marathon Relay: Friday 28th October 2016
It’s always good to go down to welcome our Marathon Relay team at the Bahrain International Circuit and there was a great team spirit 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
Our 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
It 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
St 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 five 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
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
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.
On 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 and 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.