- Tri- Diocesan Gathering – Kyrenia and Bella Paix
- Preparing for Ashura
|St Mark’s Famagusta had a very different feel to the other Cyprus chaplaincies that we experienced and we were led in lively worship by a Nigerian student band, perhaps a style that our Thika friends were immediately more attune with than their more staid European brothers and sisters! But as their Chaplain, Zinkoo Han, highlighted, St Mark’s probably has the largest congregation of any chaplaincy in Cyprus meeting, being on the university campus and responding to the international student community. After a time of worship and an outline of the Chaplaincy’s ministry, we were given a delicious Nigerian lunch.
We moved on to St Barnabas’s tomb and then to the remarkable ruined city of Salamis, a large site of clearly defined Roman ruins. It was the first port of call for Paul, Barnabas and John Mark on the first missionary journey and where they preached in a Jewish synagogue and it’s not difficult to imagine a bustling city.
Our final stop was the old town of Famagusta, the city most affected by the Turkish invasion of 1974 with large areas of the city abandoned. The old city is encircled by walls built by the Venetians and at its heart is the 14th century St Nicholas’ Cathedral now thinly disguised as a mosque, when a minaret was added following the Ottoman capture of the city in 1574 . Outside is a large sycamore fig tree of the kind that Zacchaeus climbed to get a better view of Jesus.
The day concluded on our return to Nicosia with a Eucharist in St Paul’s Cathedral followed by a reception and a delicious Middle Eastern style meal in the Syrian Club hosted by Bishop Michael and Julia. As this was the last formal occasion speeches were made, thoughtful gifts were given and farewells made which brought the week to its end.
Exchanges depend on continuing relationships and during the five days together there was plenty of opportunity for participants from the three dioceses to get to know one another and to find out, at least a little, of the context of their ministry and certainly for us all to have a better understanding of the Cyprus Chaplaincies. The hospitality of our hosts and the various chaplaincies was wonderful- we were guests at every meal! So there will be a need for some continuity in the participants of the exchange. But there will also be a need for new blood or the ownership of the exchange becomes the preserve of a few people who in the end cannot sustain it. As well as the formal exchanges, it must be hoped too that informal visits will also be made between churches and also perhaps, where friendships have gone deeper, between individuals. I believe this three-way exchange has real potential to be enriching for all three dioceses and I feel grateful and privileged to have shared in this last week. Many thanks to the Cyprus chaplaincies for being so hospitable and welcoming.