Returning to Bahrain, the major event(s) was saying farewell to Jon and Karen after nineteen months here as Curate and seeing him in as Chaplain to St Luke’s, Ras Al Khaimah and St Nicholas’, Fujairah. The farewells began with the Juffair homegroup, which has blossomed under Jon’s leadership, with people from eight different nationalities who clearly enjoy one another’s company and support one another, as well as enjoying their food and Bible study.
On Friday Jon presided at the Holy Communion service and at the conclusion of the service Council members and members of the Juffairhomegroup prayed for him and Karen and in our usual way for all those leaving presented him with a print of the Cathedral.
On the Saturday we had a bring-and-share meal and barn dance in the Alun Morris Hall, to which more than 100 people came and at which I presented Jon with a lovely portable Communion set, which I had brought back from the UK and which had been bought from the farewell gifts given. Natasha had prepared a card, which she presented on behalf of Friday Club; Jon had been particularly complimentary to our young people at the Friday morning service saying that, as an experienced teacher, he had never met such a caring and intelligent group. As well as saying farewell to Jon it was a joy to welcome Kevin and Erica (from the USA and South Africa) who had been married that afternoon. As they had come from Riyadh, they had no wedding guests to share their joy, so the St Christopher’s community immediately became their family and drew them in.Fozia, at very short notice, arranged a cake to be made and delivered, which they cut together. They were so delighted by the friendliness of everyone that they plan to return to Bahrain every month to attend a service here.
Jon attended both the Sunday morning and Sunday evening services to say his final good-byes and to unwrap fully his gift Communion set, so the congregations could see it and on Monday afternoon finally set off for the airport for his and Karen’s new adventure. I felt sad to see Jon move on, but at the same time feel that the Cathedral and Awali community have fulfilled our brief from Bishop Michael to give Jon the training that he needed to prepare him to take on the leadership of a Chaplaincy himself, and that he is now ready for that.