Dean's Blog

Blog – November 2017

Navy Chaplain speaks at Living Room Dialogue: Sunday 19th November 2017

n1The Reverend Martin Evans, the Royal Navy Chaplain based in Bahrain, was the speaker at the monthly living Room Dialogue at St Christopher’s Cathedral. He spoke about his life-transforming experience of living in a L’Arche Community home in London, where people with intellectual disabilities live in community with staff and volunteers.  There are currently 147 communities worldwide in 35 different countries, inspired by Jean Vanier, whose work began when he invited two men to leave the institution that they were staying in France to live in his home. Together they launched the first L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil in the north-east of France.

Tour of Recycling Plant: Tuesday 21st November 2017

n2The discovery that I could no longer take our recycled waste and that of the Cathedral Office to Awali on Saturday mornings, when I lead the service there – the bins had been taken away –
led to a conversation over an informal dinner with Darshan Singh and HE Simon Martin. n3I soon discovered that they have also been removed from other places that we have used previously: in Saar (outside St Christopher’s School and outside the Saar Cinema) and in Manama (outside Al Raja School) and I have been carrying rubbish in my boot for over a week. But it led to a visit, that Darshan kindly arranged, to a well-established recycling plant in Salmabad.

I was very impressed by their work, their desire to educate the community, especially children in schools, and their seriousness about the environment.

n4They also supply very attractive bins, which are well maintained and regularly emptied and the company will also put on a logo.

This would also enable us to begin to fulfil the fifth mark of Five Anglican Marks of Mission, which have been a focus for our Synod’s discussion in recent years:

  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and renew the life of the earth.

We are not good at managing our waste on the Cathedral compound: plastic bottles especially are thrown straight into the waste bins or onto the ground and end up as landfill. There is an educational role for us to play for our young people in Friday Club, our congregations and the guest congregations that use our halls each week.

So perhaps the failure of some schemes in the community to recycle gives us an opportunity to partner with this company and encourage others to do the same: to model recycling and to begin to campaign for a change of attitude that will take recycling more seriously.

In response to an email I wrote to thank the General Manager, following Darshan’s and my visit to the recycling plant, I received an email back which said:

It was indeed great pleasure meeting you at our facilities and rather amazed to see your passion towards the environment protection.

 I hope that we will be able to give a lead in demonstrating our concern for the environment, because we believe that this is God’s world and that we need to demonstrate a responsible stewardship for it.

Marathon Relay: Saturday 24th November 2017

n5It was a great atmosphere arriving at the Bahrain International Circuit – the Formula One track – and meeting up with several n6members of the cathedral running for various teams, in addition to our own Cathedral team – the Holy Strollers – with its wonderful international flavor: Kenyan, Ugandan, Indian, English, South African…. Exuberant at the improvement on the time from last year by twenty-five minutes, 87th out of 198 teams, and knowing that we had beaten the Saar Fellowship by two places: a friendly rivalry! So congratulations to our team and the very professional team that David puts together running for Mission to Seafarers, who came an impressive 25th overall.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church community was there too with their drums and dances celebrating their team’s success and I was asked to join them in the middle of their circle and for photos with them and their priest when we got back to the Cathedral.

Bishop Michael and Julia’s visit: Tuesday 28th November 2017

n7Bishop Michael with Julia arrived for a Chaplaincy visit on Tuesday evening and we went to a concert at the small Cultural centre in the new souq building near Bab Al Bahrain to hear the Bahraini flautist, Ahmed Al Ghanem, play with a guitarist. The room was crowded and there was very limited seating but we were able to climb some stairs to a gallery where there was very comfortable seating and a fine view. Ahmed was really delighted that Bishop Michael had come and gave him a special mention at the start of the concert. It was good to meet up with Jason Carter, the harp guitarist who was attending the concert too and is soon taking his Grain of Sands documentary film on the Bahrain pearl fishermen’s songs to the Dubai Film Festival. Having parked in the Downtown Rotana car park, we had some dim sum at the Teatro Restaurant afterwards.

Day Two of Chaplaincy Visit: Wednesday 29th November 2017

n8As usual the day began with Morning Prayer and we were joined by Royal Navy Chaplain Martin Evans. Stephen and Martin took Bishop Michael out, an opportunity for them to share something of their ministry with Mission to Seafarers and on the base, though for security reasons a visit to the port was not possible this time. The British Ambassador H.E. Simon Martin and his wife Sophie came for a simple soup and cheese lunch around the kitchen table, their first opportunity Bishop Michael and Julia. In the afternoon we had a rehearsal for tomorrow’s Confirmation service with the candidates, a final opportunity to reflect on the significance of what they are doing as well as running through the choreography of the service. We are expecting a full house tomorrow. In the evening there was more food, an opportunity for Bishop Michael to meet with the priests from the Church of South India and Mar Thoma churches that are in formal communion with the Anglican Church. We sat on the rooftop of Passion restaurant in Adliya, adjacent to a lively Indian hen party.

Confirmation Day: St Andrew’s Day, Thursday 30th November 2017

n9What a truly awesome day it was, tangible felt the Holy Spirit working in me…. was one response from one of the candidates… and indeed it was a very special service: fifteen people being confirmed – eight adults and seven young people -from five different nations, varied backgrounds and different walks of life but united in their desire to confirm their faith and be confirmed in it. Bishop Michael reflected on the call to be a disciple through the call of Andrew and the challenge to respond and grow in that calling. The service was followed by the cutting of a cake, and an excellent lunch enjoyed by all who attended the service graciously provided by parents of those being confirmed.

Such is the nature of life in the Gulf that two of the candidates will be moving on to new work elsewhere in the next two days: one to the United States and another to Dubai, via Kenya. And already this afternoon I have heard from one receiving church ready to welcome and looking forward to her joining them. That’s the reality of the Christian family and I am grateful and it means that we have to have a very dynamic model of the church, generous in our hospitality and welcome, but gracious in our willingness to let people move on and to wish them well in their life and faith journey.