Dean's Blog

Blog May – June 2017

Off to Cyprus for Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee: 9th – 11th May 2017

Back from Perth, Australia, on Sunday, on Tuesday morning I was heading off to Cyprus for the meeting of the Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee, meeting up in Bahrai Airport with Archdeacon Bill, who’d kindly held the fort for three weeks at the beginning of the sabbatical. It was good to hear that it had been such a positive experience for him.

Voila Viola: Thursday 11th May 2017

01Arriving off back to Bahrain on the plane on Thursday, I just made it in time to the Cathedral to welcome the audience and performers for a wonderful concert Voila Viola, given by Nora Lee Smith on viola accompanied by Mina Iwahashi on piano. The programme included the Suite no 3 in C Major by  JS Bach , the Cappricio pour Alto Seul by Henri Vieuxtemps and the Sonata No 1 in F major by Johannes Brahms. Nora has been taking the lead role in co-ordinating our concerts at the Cathedral, so it was a special pleasure to hear her play.


Jean’s 90th Birthday: Friday 12th May

02Following the morning service on Friday, and it was good to be back, Tricia and I headed to the British Club to celebrate Jean Thomas’ 90th birthday. Geoff and Jean spend about six months usually over the winter and avoiding the summer heat, with their daughter in Bahrain and they are regulars at our Sunday morning congregation. They are a wonderfully gracious presence, much loved by our small international congregation.


Building Bridges through Music with Jason Carter: Sunday 14th May 2017

03Jason Carter had given us a concert with his harp-guitar before we headed off on our sabbatical, so it was good to have him back to reflect on the many different places that he has travelled to and how music can connect with people in a way that diplomacy and politics often cannot. He is a particularly gifted story-teller with a wicked sense of humour and his account of a trip to North Korea, including a trip to the North Korean 04Embassy in London, located in a small rather bare terraced house in London had everyone in stitches, but he has a serious message and he spoke of his current project working to preserve the songs of the Pearl Fishermen in Bahrain and the Gulf.


St Christopher’s Day Dinner: Friday  19th May 2017

05After several years in smart hotels, we held the St Christopher’s day Dinner this year in the British Club with a set menu from which everyone made choices ahead of time. It was, I think, a good decision given that our community now is much more mixed and the price of the meal a very real factor in peoples’ choice to attend or not. It also reduced wastage and enabled the chefs to know exactly what was required ahead of time for the 99 guests. The tables were decorated by Natasha Prince, and looked really good as people arrived. Costs were more than half the previous year and Gulf Brands kindly sponsored wine.
Our speaker was the Deputy British Ambassador, Mockbul Ali OBE, who addressed the subject Keeping Faith in an Unpredictable World. He said that conflicts were often attributed to different religions, but that at the heart of the three religions of the Book was the concern for peace expressed in everyday greetings between people. He also pointed out that men and women of faith were always at the forefront of making peace and seeking reconciliation. He quoted the former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs on the importance of “the dignity of difference” and that difference was a God-given characteristic. Bahrain was a striking example of a country that respected this dignity of difference with mosques, churches, synagogue and temples alongside one another.

Ascension Day Vigil for Manchester: Thursday 25th May 2017
0607Prior to the Ascension day Eucharist at 6pm, along with many churches worldwide we held a vigil for Manchester, for those who had died, for bereaved families and prayed for the Emergency services – police and paramedics – for nurses and doctors caring for the injured and religious and community leaders. We lit 22 candles in the shape of a cross for the 22 who had died in the attack and were able to keep these burning through the Ascension Day service that followed.


Thank you for the Music: Saturday 27th May 2017

08Three bands in one evening: Group Therapy from Saudi Arabia, the St Chris Rockers, drawn from our young people and a surprise Abba Tribute band made a very happy and enjoyable evening in the Alun Morris Hall. Bring-and share food meant some very tasty dishes. I decided, having seen Alison our churchwarden dancing, that the Diocese should hold a Churchwardens Dancing competition as there is no doubt that we would walk away with the prize. A big thank you to Graham and Cathy and our friends from Saudi for such a special evening and all in aid of the Building Fund.


Farewell Meal for Elizabeth George: Monday 29th May 2017

09There was a lovely gathering for a meal at Lanterns Restaurant, Juffair of about forty people from at least twelve nationalities to wish Elizabeth well as she retires from twenty years in Bahrain and before that a long spell in Abu Dhabi. She has contributed and been involved in much, as part of the St Christopher’s family: serving on the Bahrain Anglican Church Council, as Administrator for three and a half years, as a Reader, leading worship and preaching, as a homegroup leader, but above all as a friend of many. She has also served in the Diocese as a Synod representative and as Secretary of the Bishop’s Advisory Panel for those exploring a vocation to ordained ministry. As Chair of this panel, I know how much work this involves and I’m very grateful.

Elizabeth returns at least initially to Bangalore, where one daughter is, but will also be going to Texas, where her other daughter and grandchildren are.

We also say good bye and commissioned the Lucas family at the Friday morning service on 2nd June– Jean Baptiste, Jennifer, Valentine, Victor and Zoe. They are moving to London, and we are grateful for the time that they have been with us. Valentine will board for a further year and we hope to keep in touch with her.

St Chris Community Big Band Concert: Thursday 1st June 2017

10Under the direction of Paul Bagshaw, the St Chris Community Big Band made a very welcome return to the Cathedral for a Thursday concert and what a sound they made! There was both jazz and popular music featuring songs such as Skyfall and Caravan as well as medleys by Stevie Wonder and the Bee Gees.

The discerning filled up from the back, but it was certainly a powerful sound from the eighteen musicians that make up the band.

Pentecost: Friday 2nd June 2017

11Our Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian community has become a core part of several of several of our congregations. At the Pentecost service on Friday they sang a couple of Swahili songs, a particularly lively and rhythmic one being Mwamba, which means Rock, and which the congregation joined in with gusto! Asante sana.