Dean's Blog

Dean’s Blog – November, 2015

St Barnabas’ Limassol Centenary Cyprus: Saturday 31st October 2015limmassol

Needing to go to Cyprus for a Bishop’s Council/Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday I flew a few days early, bags full of Diocesan calendars and the newly produced Remembering Trees book to spend a few days with Derek and Sue Smith to join with them in celebrating their Centenary. It was an occasion of great joy and celebration, with many people working very hard to make it happen. I arrived on the Saturday and was kindly picked up at the airport by Archdeacon John and Sue Holdsworth and taken down to Limassol.   Already there had been a very successful Songs of Praise on the Friday night, but there was a centenary exhibition in a hall adjacent to the church and lunch outside in the lovely space between the church and the chaplaincy house. Food was very much a theme of the weekend as there was another lunch the following day in the same area following the Centenary Eucharist at which Bishop Michael presided and preached – a packed church. It was lovely being among the people meeting such a rich cross-section of people without on-going pastoLimassol Promenade (1)ral responsibility. As well as several Brits I talked to people from Nigeria, Kenya, China, South Africa, Romania and Sri Lanka. On the Monday night Derek and Sue had kindly invited several people with bahrani-connections in their past including Angela and Grant Murray – Angela in Cyprus for Bishop’s Council too. It was good to explore Limassol on foot – I especially liked the seafront area where I walked for an hour each day and one day had a swim from the beach at the eastern end, the water surprisingly warm.

The day of the Bishop’s Council was a long one: lots to hear about and discuss in our very diverse diocese and all the plans for the coming Synod in February 2016.

Remembrance Sunday weekend: 6-8th November 2015

I returned on Thurfamily_servicesday night to help lead a lively All-age family service on Friday morning, enlivened especially by a band that Graham Roberts had pulled together and with the young people from Friday Club helping to lead in the singing, songs they had practiced over the past few weeks. It was good to revisit a couple of songs from Godspell. Some of our young people led a dramatic reading of the Jonah story from the Lion Bible for Children and Jon had prepared a liturgy for the occasion. Lots of positive feedback, but as I said in the notices it can’t be like this every week!

On the Saturday I was invited out to sea on HMS Bangor, one of the mine hunters basenavyd in Bahrain with a number of youngsters from St Christopher’s School and two staff, a group from the Naval Base who are normally office-based, and a few individuals like me. We were given a demonstration of the operations to hunt for mines and once locating them with the use of a Sea Fox, the sending out of divers to do the necessary to blow it up. I remained on bridge while the ship was brought into port and I found it fascinating to sea the constant activity watching and responding to the moves of other ships and small craft.

On Sunday evenchelsea_remembranceing was the Cathedral’s Remembrance Sunday Service, probably the best attended in my time in Bahrain with seven Ambassadors present (UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Brunei) the Greek Consul and the wife of the Dutch Consul and several representatives from the US Navy, French Navy and British Royal Navy, including three Captains from each of these navies, who participated by taking speaking roles. As ever it was good to welcome the Chelsea Pensioners who, by their presence link us, with earlier conflicts and are a living reminder of the cost of war. Our preacher was the Rev’d Dr Mark Davidson, a Church of Scotland minister who is the Royal Navy Chaplain here. He spoke very thoughtfully on the subject of war. In a brief time that he has been here, it has been good to get to know him and he has been instrumental in linking us with the Royal Navy, which resulted in organizing the recent workparty to paint the outsides of the Alun Morris Hall and Coffee Room. He is lined up as a Living Room Dialogue speaker in February 2016. It was a joy to welcome the new British Ambassador, HE Simon Martin and his wife Sophie to our community and he read the first lesson in the service.