Dean's Blog

Dean’s Blog – December 2017

Two shows in two days: Tuesday 5th December and Wednesday 6th December 2017

01Bahrain is like a small town in many ways. 02
We went to the outstanding St Christopher’s School production of West Side Story on Tuesday and Luke Bennett and Ethan Welch are in leading roles. I had not seen West Side Story before so I was amazed at how many of the songs I knew and this was a very professional show, the choreography of the gang fighting scenes particularly notable. 03And then the following day we were at the British Club watching Neha Mani and Alice Bennett in the wonderful Christmas pantomime – Cinderella – complete with the usual outrageous ugly stepsisters and the evil stepmother with the opportunity to boo and cheer at the appropriate moments.

Thank you to all who give their time and energy to producing these shows and for all the actors, old and young who work so hard to make them happen.


Quick visit to Jerusalem: Saturday 9th December – Monday 10th December 2017

04I was invited to join an inter faith delegation to Jerusalem. It was part of the This is Bahrain programme of visits which have taken place to many different cities – London, Paris, Rome, Washington, New York and Los Angeles – in recent years, each one of which has had an interfaith component.05 Its timing was unfortunate, a few days after President Donald Trump’s announcement of the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, which has understandably upset the Palestinians and all who support them and it made any formal programme with our hosts for a group from Bahrain impossible. But I was able to use the short time I had profitably, attending the Eucharist at St George’s Cathedral on Sunday morning and exploring the Old City of Jerusalem and several of its holy sites, which I found fascinating. On the Monday morning I visited the garden tomb outside the old city, early enough to avoid the bustling crowds. It is a beautiful place and certainly how you might imagine the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection to have been. I found the Church of the Holy Sepulchre did not have the same impact. The two day experience was sufficient a taster to know that one day we must go back. 


Farewell to Hatun Demirer: Thursday 7th December 2017

06We were glad to have the opportunity to say farewell to Hatun Demirer, who has served as the Turkish Ambassador in Bahrain for the past four years, one of the longest serving ambassadors in the Kingdom. She came to speak at one of our Living Room Dialogues, at the time when Turkey was at the forefront of the Syrian refugee crisis, and we have always enjoyed conversations with her. Her husband has been the Turkish Ambassador in Saudi Arabia and they were both finishing their overseas tours of duty on the same day and returning to Ankara. So while her children were having a final martial arts lesson, we met at the British Club for a drink and chat. We wish her and her family well and thank her for her friendship.


Gifts for Seafarers: Saturday 16th December 2017

09While I was taking the service up at Awali, a great team came to our home to wrap up and prepare paper packages for Christmas gifts for seafarers. It was heartwarming to see how many gifts had been bought by congregation members and groups such as the American Womens Association, which enabled more than 250 packages to be made which will be distributed to the seafarers on board ships over the Christmas season. It was good to see this was featured in a large photo in the Gulf Daily News this morning.



Birth of Isla Hope: Monday 18th December 2017

08Advent has had a special feel of tip-toe expectancy this year as we awaited the birth of our first grandchild to Alex and Dan. Isla Hope was born on Monday 18th December, a solid 8lbs 11oz after a lengthy labour, but both mother and baby are doing well. As we had held back sending Christmas letters until we’d received this news, many of them will arrive a little late this year.


Christingle Workshop: Friday 22nd December 2017
09As we did last year, we had a shortened Advent service with the focus on the annunciation and then nearly all the congregation came over to The Deanery and garden to make Christingles. Thankfully we were all prepared with supplies and Kumar and
Nazir had set up the tables in the garden so everyone set to making them and the work was completed in record time. It was Michael and Jacqueline’s last Friday with us before returning to the US and so in our usual way we prayed for them and gave them a print of the Cathedral and they expressed their thanks for the friendship of the congregation.


Tamil Nativity: Friday 22nd December 2017
10In the evening we attended the Tamil congregation’s Nativity with Robert and Tryphena taking lead roles setting the scene for the presentation of the first Christmas.11 Congratulations to all who took part, both adults and children and to Pushpa who I gather developed an imaginative script.   We enjoyed some wonderful hospitality afterwards with a wonderful biryani.



Christmas Eve or the Fourth Sunday of Advent?: Sunday 24th December 2017

12I gather there has been quite a bit of discussion in church circles about what to do on this Sunday… Should it be a marking of the Annunciation, the theme of the Fourth Sunday of Advent or should we be celebrating Christmas Eve. 13Well we did both. On Sunday morning we were in Advent though bringing out some mulled wine for refreshments after the service, but by the evening we were definitely into Christmas Eve with our Christingle Service in the Alun Morris Hall and Crib Service at Awali. We were certainly crowded for the Christingle service, but there was a lovely calm attentive atmosphere and I think it was helped by turning off the main lights and sitting in candlelight at the beginning of the service. It is a service both for old and young and as usual the offertory will go to the Dorothy Menzies Care Home for Children in Belize: BD430 was given.

The 11.30pm First Communion of Christmas service was rather quieter than recent years, but of couse both Christmas Eve (Sunday) and Christmas Day (Monday) are working days here so many were probably conserving their sleep.


Christmas Day: Monday 25th December 2017

14On Christmas morning we were once again blessed by the greetings and music of the Husseini Processions Band, who for the third year running joined us for part of our service, this year at the beginning of the service. They received a warm reception from a full congregation and the members of the band clearly appreciated the genuine warmth of welcome that they received.

15We had an enjoyable Christmas late lunch for those who might otherwise have been on their own: India, Japan, Sri Lanka, America, Kenya were the countries represented around the table to add to our own UK/Australia links. 16We had a quiz game half way through the meal: one side of the table against the other that brought out the competitive streak in several of us.

After the very busy run-up to Christmas, as well as the busy Christmas weekend, it was good to have a few days with a rather different rhythm: a Boxing Day meal with the Hanson-Singhs, a game of tennis with the men in the Roberts family on the Wednesday, an evening party on Thursday at the home of George and Barbie Williams. It was good to meet Stephanie, the arts page editor of the Gulf Daily News, for the first time having sent her many emails about concerts at the Cathedral. 17And a relaxed afternoon tea with Mockbul Ali and Sajeda, the most extensive afternoon tea I’ve ever had, when the conversation flowed.  And on Saturday we joined Arvind and Anthea, Abital and Apphia for an evening meal…. The diet begins in the New Year.