Farewell to Pastor Jim Harrison and family: Friday 11th January 2019
One of our early memories in Bahrain was a party to say farewell to Pastor Dick Westra, who had served for several years as pastor of the English Language Congregation of the National Evangelical Church. Now at quite short notice Pastor Jim Harrison, who followed Pastor Dick is heading back to the United States, recruited for a new position as the Prayer Co-ordinator for the Reformed Church in America after many years as a missionary pastor first in Estonia and then Bahrain. Jim has been a good friend and colleague and over the years we have met several times for a meal at Central Café to keep in touch with one another and our different ministries and encourage one another and Tricia served with him on Al Raja School Board of Governors for several years.
It was a touching farewell from the members of the English Language Congregation, so many expressing their thanks for him and Beth and their ministries and we were glad to be there to share in thanksgiving and to wish them as a family well for the future.
Women’s Crisis Care International: Sunday 13th January 2019
For the first Living Room Dialogue of the New Year we were honoured to welcome Mary-Justine Todd as our speaker, the Founder and Director of WCCI. WCCI was founded in Bahrain in 2015 and began full-scale operations in January of 2016. Just three years on they now have a team of over 100 people, including more than 115 volunteer certified advocates. Among the group, there are 20 languages spoken and a wide range of skills and expertise. Mary-Justine began by telling a story of a young lady, with all the dreams of a loving and fulfilling marriage, finding herself caught in an increasingly abusive relationship. For further information do check out https://www.womenscci.org/read-me/. I am glad that at a recent meeting or our Council it was agreed tto give BD 400 towards the work of WCCI.
Confirmation and Admission and Licensing of a Reader Service: Friday January 18th 2019
Bishop Michael was in Bahrain for a very special celebration at St Christopher’s Cathedral on Friday 18th January 2019: the Confirmation of ten candidates – six adults and four young people from several nationalities and backgrounds– and the Admission and Licensing of Dr Angel Afolabi as a Reader on the day that she herself was confirmed.
It has been special preparing both adults and teenagers in this group and so encouraging when the adult group suggested afterwards that it would be good to continue to meet together, perhaps on a monthly basis to encourage one another on their faith journey.
Angel grew up within the Southern Baptist Church in the United States, but since she began teaching in the Gulf, first in Fujairah and then Bahrain, she has found her home within the Anglican Church family and has increasingly felt at home within Anglican worship. She discovered that the Anglican Church was the community that reflected the breadth of nationalities that make up the expatriate communities in the Gulf in a way that other churches did not. For the past three years she has been following the Exploring Faith course and attended a Bishop’s Advisory Panel Conference in Ras Al Khaimah in October 2018 following which the Bishop accepted her as a Reader in training.
The service was followed with a wonderful Buffet meal at the BAPCO Club, the venue for several special cathedral celebrations over the years, which seventy of the congregation attended.
Epiphany – Ethiopian Orthodox style : Saturday19th/Sunday20th January 2019-01-23
The Ethiopian community certainly know how to celebrate their festivals. On Saturday they celebrated the Baptism of Christ, this year down on the coast near Alba. I dropped in on my way to the Saturday morning service at Awali, and though very challenging to find, eventually I saw tents and buses and a huge crowd near the sea. At one point in the service the priest with a huge “water pistol” sprays the worshippers as a reminder of their own baptism and of their identity with Christ’s baptism. I was graciously invited to greet the gathering and to wish them a special festival.
The following day they were back at the Cathedral for the celebration of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana in Galilee and once again there was a wonderful festive spirit with singing and dancing and ululating. It made our own celebration that followed look very dull, though one of our congregation commented that the only thing missing from Tricia’s sermon was shared glass of wine, though of course we did have that in communion.