Dean’s Blog – Remembrance Weekend
Remembrance weekend: Saturday 10th – Sunday 11th November 2018
The services over Remembrance weekend this year had a special poignancy marking the centenary of the end of the First World War. On Saturday at 12.30pm about fifty gathered at the Old Christian Cemetery, where there are several servicemen’s graves and where there is a memorial to all who died in the two World Wars. Sailors from HMS Ledbury, who’d helped with a final tidy-up of the cemetery in the morning, joined with the Chelsea Pensioners, several veterans and members of the community for a simple service at which the Last Post and Reveille were played on a trombone by a former army musician.
On Sunday we cancelled the 10.30am service at the Cathedral to attend the service at the British Embassy. At 10.20am the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour and, as usually happens in Bahrain, the floodwaters rose! But by 10.45am the rain had stopped and the decision to hold the service outside was taken with ambassadors, senior military and members of the wider community presented wreaths on the table in front of the Cathedral’s rough wooden cross that we use during holy Week for Stations of the Cross and on Good Friday.
At 3.30pm those who could, gathered in the thoroughly flooded Cathedral car park, having been delivered to islands in front of the Cathedral and Alun Morris Hall for Bells for Peace, coinciding with the bells of Westminster Abbey, churches throughout the UK and ships here and throughout the world ringing out at 12.30pm GMT. Five minutes before I was in shorts and a tee shirt and barefooted; robes cover a mukltitude of sins. Here it was an interfaith event and as well as Christian representatives from various churches we had Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh ringing the ship’s bell presented to the cathedral in 1954. Once again the irrepressible Chelsea Pensioners were with us, as was the British Ambassador and his wife and at the conclusion of 100 rings, everyone played whatever instrument they could lay their hands on.
Following Bells for peace it was all hands to deck to try and reduce the water level a few inches to enable people to come to the Sunday Evening Remembrance Service, approaching the Cathedral from the side entrance through the vestry rather than through the main door. Andrew Petty kindly directed traffic round to the back of the cathedral to park in the road there , which was moderately dry and remarkably by the time the service started the Cathedral was full and people had managed to get in without getting soaked. Somehow the weather brought people together in a special way; these are events we will not forget and it helped all who attended to somehow identify with the horrific conditions of trench warfare in often very grim circumstances.
I’m especially grateful to our staff and to Mary who worked so hard in the afternoon to successfully lower the water level to enable the evening service to go ahead.
Christians Aware Visit: 13-21st November 2018
We were pleased to welcome a group of four – Susan Cooper, Norma Hayward, Richard and Christine Stainer – from Christians Aware, UK for a week, immersing themselves in the life of the Cathedral and learning about its context in Bahrain.
“Christians Aware is an international and interdenominational educational charity working to develop multicultural and interfaith understanding and friendship locally, nationally and internationally. Its aim is to work for justice, peace and development. The focus is on listening to encourage awareness and action.
The words of Ronald Wynne are important: Do not try to teach anyone anything until you have learnt something from them. They lead to our motto:
Peace is born of Love.
Love is born of Understanding.
Understanding is born of Listening.
Listening leads to Justice and Peace.”
It was a busy week involving visits to the Base and time with both US and Royal Navy Chaplains, to the Grand Mosque, to the Bahrain Fort and Museum, to the Seafarers Centre in the port with Stephen to see his work as a Mission to Seafarers Chaplain and the Craft Centre, just up the road from the Cathedral, with the opportunity to chat with the craftspeople and Camel farm; separate meetings with Mockbul Ali, the deputy British Ambassador, and Angelo Maestas, Political Officer at the US Embassy; attendance at various services – English and Tamil-speaking – and the Living Room Dialogue on Sunday evening; a parish lunch at BAPCO Club and several meals out mostly in simple Indian vegetarian restaurants. The visit concluded by going to see the wonderful son et lumière at the Bahrain Fort, that tells the story of Bahrain’s history so beautifully. In a week I am sure they visited places and met people that others might have taken a year to do, so went away with an impression of Bahrain that no tourist visit staying in a hotel could have done.
Return visit of the Rev’d Anne Futcher and husband Christopher: 15-18th November 2018
It was lovely to welcome back Anne Futcher, who’d spent a month in Bahrain earlier in the year, with her husband, Christopher Futcher, Archdeacon of Exeter. Anne presided at three Holy Communion services including the Tamil service over the weekend and Christopher preached on both Friday morning and Sunday evening services. At the BAPCO lunch on the Friday Christopher gave us an insight of the priorities the new Bishop had set for the Diocese of Exeter and how these were working out in the life of parishes and Anne gave an update of her life and ministry since leaving Bahrain.
A More Sustainable Future: Sunday 18th November 2018
Dr Aizhan Sharshenova, who has a PhD from the University of Leeds and is the Communications Officer at Sustainable Energy Centre, United Nations Development Programme, was the speaker at this month’s Living Room Dialogue on the subject of Sustainable Energy in Bahrain. She defined sustainable energy as that which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and went on to highlight the policies in Bahrain that were beginning to address sustainable energy goals. She also highlighted some simple ways in which individual households and institutions could help save electricity and reduce electricity bills and contribute to a more sustainable future. It led to some lively discussion.