Chris

Dean’s Blog – October 2018

October 28, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Celebration of German Unity: Friday 5th October 2018

001Tricia and I were privileged to attend a joint concert of the German Air Force Band and the Bahrain Public Security Band of the Ministry of Interior at the Isa bin Salman Cultural Hall in Adliya, a lovely setting for such an event. 002The bands mostly played separately but for a grand finale the two came together for the Radetzky  March which had the audience clapping along and you could imagine that you were in Vienna for the New Year’s Eve concert or the Albert Hall in London for the Last Night of the Proms.

 

 

World Harvest Supper and Barn Dance: Saturday 6th October 2018

003One of the biggest social events of the year in the Cathedral’s life is the world harvest supper and barn dance which we hold in the Alun Morris Hall. It was beautifully decorate with the ever growing number of world flags by our wonderful Caretaking team and especially Kumar and Kalam, willing to climb up ladders, but it is very special seeing our very international church family mixed up with invited guests throwing themselves into the dances and enjoying the homemade international cuisine brought by our members. It was lovely to see a Muslim family from India thoroughly enjoying being part of the celebrations.004

As well as celebrations there was giving of food which will be directed to those who are needy through the ECC and Mission to seafarers and a cash appeal raised BD621 which will be directed through the Diocese to support the work of the Ras Morbat Clinic, which continues to do its good work, despite the war, in Aden.

Intercultural Ethics – Professor David MIsselbrook: Sunday 14th October, 2018

005Professor David Misselbrook, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, was the latest speaker at the first Living Room Dialogue of the new academic year. He spoke on the subject of Intercultural Ethics, reviewing the history of medical ethics in both the West and in Islam and reflecting on the common principles underlying ethical decisions. It was lovely to welcome four students at RCSI and several people who were new to Living room Dialogues who were attending for the first time He had recently given the John Locke 2018 Lecture at The Society of Apothecaries in London, which has a 400 year old history, and is now a postgraduate medical education institution. The title of his lecture was Arabian Knots: Tales of moral misunderstandings from East and West, focussing on intercultural ethics.

 

Unexpected visitors: Saturday 20th October 2018

006Returned from Awali and seeing a swarm of young people getting out of big black government cars. They happened to be a group of students from Sapienza University, Rome with their Professor, Alessandro Saggioro, who is to be the first King Hamad Chair in Inter-Faith Dialogue and Peaceful Co-Existence.  I welcomed them in to the cathedral and for the next half an hour had a wonderful dialogue with them about Bahrain, the history of the church in Bahrain, inter faith issues, and how they could contribute to encouraging a deeper dialogue between faith communities here. I gather that they would be meeting with His Majesty, a meeting that I had been invited to, but I will be in Ras Al Khaimah tomorrow to chair the Bishop’s Advisory Panel which begins on Monday.

 

Bishop’s Advisory Panel at St Luke’s, Ras Al Khaimah: October 21st– 25th 2018

007One of the most rewarding and most demanding roles that I have taken on has been as Chair of the Bishop’s Advisory Panel for those exploring a vocation to Ordained or Reader ministry. For the first time we have had potential Readers attending the conference and altogether we had eight candidates. So, forty half-an-hour interviews, eight homilies, three group exercises and a written project, quite apart from four Selectors meetings and all done within a regular rhythm of prayer and worship: morning, midday and evening. For the two full days of the Conference the selectors were working a fourteen hour day.

008Preparing for the Conference is also very demanding as each exercise has to be prepared and printed off with observation and marking sheets all colour-coded, eight orders of service have to be prepared and there are several communications with both candidates and selectors prior to the conference.  In addition there is the  reading up of candidates’ registration forms and references and preparing questions for each of their interviews.

Each conference creates a wonderful supportive atmosphere and I feel that the sense of community created has had a transforming impact on the life of the Diocese. Each of the candidates came from a different Chaplaincy and from seven different countries. It really is a remarkable and wonderful snapshot of the Church in this part of the world.

 Martin Luther and Bahrain Jazz Fest: Friday26th October 2018

009At the morning service US Navy Chaplain Christina Mauntel spoke about the importance of Martin Luther in her own tradition (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). I was able to reassure her that  even Anglicans remember Luther on Wednesday 31st October, when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Castle Church and last year we had a service marking 500 years of reformation! And she recalled moving celebrations marking the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in her previous parish in Alaska when Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans came together to celebrate.  I enjoyed a conversation with one of our Roman Catholic members after the service, who found it very moving that a woman preacher should be reflecting on reformation in this way.

010After coffee, after the service, I met with the newly formed Exploring Faith group who met in my study in The Deanery with Simon leading us and then, after a quick bite, 011we headed for the Bahrain Jazz fest at the Royal Golf Club. We’d invited Christina to join us but a friend who has recently come to Bahrain and a former US Army Chaplain, Jennifer, now in a role leading retreats for service personnel, but outside military ranks. Jennifer joined us for the afternoon. It had rained heavily earlier in the day, so rugs and cushions put out on the lovely green grass of the Golf Club, a rare treat in Bahrain, were soaking wet and the music was delayed somewhat, but it was a lovely day and we met up with several friends. We didn’t stay late, but particularly enjoyed the gentle jazz of Avalon Jazz band from France.

 

Chris

Dean’s Blog – 13th – 19th September 2018

September 24, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Katherine Lyddon, Children’s Work Adviser from Exeter Diocese: 13-19th September 2018 

From the 13th to 19th  September, St Christopher’s Cathedral  hosted the Exeter Diocese Children’s Work Adviser, Katherine Lyddon, at the beginning of the school year. Katherine has trained as a Primary teacher and, as well as working throughout the County of Devon in the United Kingdom as an adviser to churches in her present role, she has also taught in Uganda.

001She arrived in Bahrain on Thursday morning and in the evening there was a meal in a local Indian Restaurant, which gave Katherine an informal opportunity to meet the Friday Club team individually as she moved around the table between courses.

002On Friday morning she spent time with the Friday Club children and young people, on what was their first session of the new school year, telling the story of creation.

On Friday evening she led the team in some retreat time and then moved on to exploring our vision and encouraged team-building, drawing in those who were new to the Friday Club team.

003On Saturday from 10am till 3pm she led workshops, inspiring, encouraging and resourcing the Cathedral’s growing Friday Club team of volunteers. Eighteen people came, both from the English-speaking and Tamil-speaking congregations, an indication of the growth of our ministry to children and young people. Sessions included subjects such as children and young people as key members of the church community, child development, different learning styles, providing a safe environment, and exploring varieties of ways in which faith grows.

She also led a session Growing a family of faith for mothers on Monday morning, 17th September, in the home of one of the Cathedral members as well as telling a Bible story to the young children present.

004Tuesday gave an opportunity to explore a little of Bahrain’s history and continuing rich culture with visits to the Bahrain Fort with its fine archaeological museum and the Craft Centre near the Cathedral, meeting several of the craftspeople there.

It was wonderful having Katherine with us and an inspiration to our Friday Club leaders. We are grateful to the Diocese of Exeter for releasing her for these two weeks, both here in Bahrain and moving on for a week in Abu Dhabi, and believe such purposeful visits are a very significant way of expressing the partnership between our dioceses.

Opening of Confluence: Saturday 15th September 2018

 005We were honoured to be invited to the opening of an exhibition which was in the heart of the Bahrain’s financial heart: Harbour Gate. 006It was an imaginative fusion of poetry and art and much of the work to pull it together was given by two Cathedral members, Rohini Sunderam, Director of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle, and Shereen Abraham, who together had combined their gifts  in several displays as well as being the chief organizers of many of the practical details to pull the exhibition together.

 Friday Mornings in the Cathedral: Friday 21st September 2018

These continue to be very encouraging. This morning there were apparently 85 adults and in one children’s group alone – the Samaritans – there were twenty-one, which sounds as if it needs to split into two! May the plans for the building project, now with the Urban Planners, quickly be passed so we can get on with the provision of adequate space for Friday Clubbers. It was good to have two occasional visitors to Friday morning Chaplain Christina Mauntel as celebrant and our Reader Simon Phillips as preacher; Simon is better known on Sunday evenings and is a gifted preacher.

 Meeting up with Christine Mauntel: Saturday 22nd September 2018

008It was good to have US Navy Chaplain Christina Mauntel presiding at our Holy Communion service yesterday. Bishop Michael gave her permission to officiate after connecting with her Bishop in Alaska. Her background is Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, but she appreciates being in a community who are rooted in a liturgy. We had a lovely meal in her apartment and she showed us photos of Alaska, her previous parish: stunningly beautiful landscapes (though bitterly cold and dark in winter), the northern lights, fast flowing rivers filled with salmon and brown bears fishing for salmon! I dropped an emai to her Bishop in Alaska to say how much we appreciated Christina’s support and friendship in the cathedral and by next morning there was a nice reply Thank you for sharing this photo.  I am so grateful for your hospitality toward Christina and for your ecumenical partnership.

Size isn’t everything! Sunday 23rd September 2018

We have a small group, usually less than ten, meeting on a Sunday morning for our regular Holy Communion service, and generally meeting over tea or coffee afterwards when the conversation flows as we sit around a table. This morning a young doctor from India working in a Christian Medical College joined us. His wife’s parents live here and their first baby was born in Bahrain. But he wanted to talk about a persistent sense of vocation to ministry but maintaining his work as a doctor. So this afternoon I copied of an initial reading list and also sent links to useful youtubes by some of the authors that I’d suggested: David Ford, Rowan Williams, Tom Wright, Alister McGrath and Walter Brueggemann.  And we said we’d try and keep in touch.

 

 

Chris

Dean’s Blog – August/September 2018

September 13, 2018 in Dean's Blog

 

Return to Bahrain and start of the new academic year: August/September 2018

001After a break away the return to work I guess for all of us feels a little bit like that return to school after the summer holidays: butterflies in the stomach, not helped by the nearly twenty hours of travelling back from Sydney through Hong Kong and Dubai and with five hours in HK airport in the middle of the night. But it is never as bad as one imagines, and after one day back I was looking forward to the coming months. It was helped by seeing the congregation in good voice and spirit on the Friday morning, meeting new people who’d joined the congregation over the summer months and an exciting programme lined up for the next few months.

 

002The last of the weekly summer events was held at the Beijing restaurant, organized by Fozia, a wonderful Chinese meal interspersed by karaoke on a screen. I was a little uncertain how the karaoke would turn out, but it was embraced by all who came – younger and older and in between – and from the very varied national backgrounds that people come from in our community. Everybody seemed to really enjoy themselves and a contingent from the Royal Navy with their Chaplain Mark Mander clearly had a great evening too Mark kindly wrote I was encouraged when I returned back to camp that the small group had such a wonderful time. I believe it is vitally important that our sailors are able to interact with Christians and understand that our life with Christ is filled with purpose and fun.  Last night certainly proved that.

003Two of our regular Royal Navy contingent Spender and Emma – on a Friday morning were involved in a sketch Don’t interrupt me Lord, I’m praying. 004The service was structured around the Lord’s Prayer, exploring each phrase through a Bible reading, an image thrown up on the screen, a reflection from a wonderful book by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Sister Wendy Beckett – simple but profound – and a prayer. The sketch was of a person (Emma) saying the Lord’s Prayer in a routine way, hoping to get on with life, but constantly being interrupted by God (Spender), who was only heard. It was very effective and people responded very positively to the whole service saying how helpful it had been.

 

005A RAF Memorial service was held on Wednesday 5th September by the regional chaplain Wing Commander Ruth Hake as part of commemorations all over the world remembering those who have died on RAF duty as part of the centenary celebrations of the RAF. She moved from the War graves of Salmabad with the appropriate red and blue stripe on the industrial wall behind to the Old Cemetery in Salmabad. As ever Kalam had prepared the Cemetery for this occasion with care, but the next naval workparty looking for opportunities for voluntary service could give the walls around the service graves a scrub and a new paint.

Diocesan Forum on the Constitution: Wednesday 12th September 2018

006It was good to welcome Bishop Michael and a senior management team from the Diocese – Executive Archdeacon John Holdsworth, Honorary Finance Officer John Banfield and Dr Helen Perry from the Diocesan Office for the first of a tour of forums on the Diocesan constitution. 007We had three representatives including two priests from the Canterbury group and there were twenty Cathedral members, both from the Bahrain Anglican Church Council and those who were interested from the congregation. An excellent three-course meal in the British Club, served very efficiently, was followed by a meeting in what was the Exercise room, all sitting round a large table. Bishop Michael outlined the key Anglican fundamentals underlining the constitution and Archdeacon John followed it up by outlining the lengthy process that the revision of the Constitution had gone through. It was then open to the floor for questions and dialogue. Hopefully this process will enable a revised Diocesan Constitution to be brought to the next Synod for final ratification. We are grateful that the grassroots of Diocesan life in the Chaplaincies have had the opportunity to engage with a senior team from the Diocese in this process.

Interview on the religious tolerance in Bahrain:  Thursday 13th September 2018                             

009In a very busy week of three weddings and three visits to the airport to collect guests – this morning Katherine Lyddon, the Children’s Work Adviser in the Diocese of Exeter 008– I wondered how I was going to fit in an interview with Dana Humaidan from the National Communications Centre in Bahrain for a youtube production on religious tolerance that they are working on. But it was good to meet and talk with her and Ammar Ahmed, Managing Director of Amart Media Productions. I always feel that tolerance is too weak a word to describe the acceptance of the Christian community in Bahrain; honour and respect are more adequate words that reflect the reality. She was especially interested in both the history of the cathedral and its place in the Diocese and also the Living Room Dialogues, so I suggested that, when she has finished her project, she comes to speak about it in a future Living Room Dialogue.    

 

 

 

Chris

Dean’s Blog – Summer Leave: July 16 – August 23rd 2018

August 27, 2018 in Dean's Blog

United Kingdom

One of the dangers of being expatriates is that one’s children can pick up the bug. We left our children safely studying or working in the UK when we came out to Bahrain nearly nine years ago. We now have children on three continents: one in the UK, another in Hong Kong and one in Sydney, Australia. It makes for complexities and expense on holidays if, as we chose to do this year, we visit them all. So two weeks in the UK, a brief return to Bahrain and onward to Hong Kong for five days, and Australia for two weeks.

001The UK element was especially busy as we were determined to sort out our housing arrangements for post-Bahrain, which meant clearing and selling a house, and in two days making a decision on buying, which we did – a house in Harborne, Birmingham – grateful for the hospitality of Stephanie in Wolverhampton enabling us to have two days intensive visiting. And we were also able to catch up with Peter and Teen, married here in the Cathedral and Teen baptized and confirmed the day before her departure to the UK. In the few days we had in Cambridge we had lunch with Tom and Maria Vittoria Pote; Tom is an ordinand at Westcott House, a Theological College in Cambridge, and will be joining us in Bahrain for a month’s placement following the Diocesan Synod next February, so it was good to meet them both and look forward to welcoming them both.

002It was a joy to spend some time with our daughter Alex and granddaughter, Isla, over two weekends, to meet up with my sister and her husband and I was able to help out by preaching at St Mary’s Hitchin, where our son-in-law Dan is serving as a part-time curate and to share something of the context of our ministry in Bahrain.

Hong Kong

004After a brief return to Bahrain we flew on to Hong Kong, staying with Hannah and Tom in their fifth floor apartment (with no lift!) which kept us fit. It is always good to return to this dynamic city and to Emmanuel Church on the Sunday, where I was priest-in-charge in the 1980’s. 003Only a few people remain from that period, but the Chaplain, Robert Martin, was so welcoming and said that we must always regard it as “your church” when we come back to Hong Kong, which we do. After the service we joined Hannah and Tom with several of their friends on a boat trip to Stanley where we anchored and swam.

Australia

006We flew on to Sydney and then on to Brisbane for a family wedding: a cousin’s daughter to which there was a large family gathering and for which both Hannah and Philippa joined us. 005Staying in the bride’s house was a balance of helping and keeping out of the way, but both the preparations (flowers, folding orders of service and guillotining song sheets – a familiar activity) and the wedding itself were full of good memories and a very happy occasion. The service was held in the St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Brisbane and was followed by tea in the Church hall and then later by dinner and a ceilidh, reflecting Madi’s Scottish heritage. Her father Bill, a true Scot, who’d proudly taken on Australian citizenship, was much missed but he was movingly remembered in both Madi’s sister Harriet’s speech and indeed the bridegroom Andrew’s speech too; he recalled going to ask for Bill’s permission to marry her while he was critically ill in hospital.

008The Butts, on arrival at Brisbane, were able to get away together for a day at Bribie Island, where we braved the bracing Southern hemisphere winter water for a swim and a walk along the beach and enjoyed a fish and chip lunch.

Following the wedding Hannah returned to Hong Kong and we stayed on in Brisbane for several family gatherings over the next few days, while Philippa headed back to work in Sydney.

007We travelled back to Sydney and were able to catch up with Doreen, who was one of the first members of the now thriving St Christopher’s Kenyan community and who as well as holding down two jobs has passed her final accountancy exams and is planning for her mother to visit for her graduation. Congratulations to her!

We had a final weekend away in Jervis Bay with Philippa and Lucy, the friend she travelled out through South East Asia to Australia with, and with whom she shares an apartment now. We stayed in a comfortable airbnb with a wonderful wood-burning stove. It is a beautiful bay, home to dolphins and seasonally to whales. 009We had a boat trip: seeing dolphins up close, an albatross circling effortlessly overhead, gannets out fishing, but sadly no seasonally migrating whales. The sands of Hyams Bay are the whitest in the world (according to the Guiness Book of Records) and a wedding was taking place on the beach when we arrived. We had several good walks and the whole weekend could not have been a better way to end the holiday.

010It was not quite ended as we stopped for one of the “World’s Best Pies”, a walk to the Fitzroy Falls in the New South Wales’ Southern Highlands, and our adventure was continued when the brakes in Philippa’s car were clearly not functioning as they should and we had to abandon the car in a garage in Bowral, the home of the world renowned cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, and catch the train back to Sydney.

I caught the plane back from Sydney to Bahrain (Tricia follows in a week’s time) the following day, via five hours in Hong Kong and an hour in Dubai airports, arriving as predicted after a very long night at 8am on Wednesday morning. I was greeted very warmly by the taxi driver at the airport: Eid Mubarak. It was a lovely welcome home and added to by Stephen and our Tamil community at the start of their Family Day as the taxi drew up in the Cathedral car park.

 

Chris

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)

 

Bedroom

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)

 

Kitchen

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)

 

Study

“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.