Dean's Blog

Dean’s Blog – April 2018

Easter Monday Wedding: Monday 2nd April 2018

001002The Cathedral was full of flowers for the wedding of a member of the Mar Thoma Church to  a lawyer from London who was also from the Mar Thoma Church and it was made very special by the presence of His grace Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Supreme Head of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. I didn’t attend the service but met with him following the service.



Meeting with US Congress House of Representatives delegates: Monday 2nd April 2018

For the second week in a row I have met with a group from the US Congress visiting Bahrain. These are visits arranged through the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I have prepared a powerpoint of photographs that highlight Bahrain’s diversity of faith communities and simply speak about my experience of leading a faith community in Bahrain. As they were running half an hour late, we could not meet in the Cathedral as this would have clashed with arriving wedding guests but they came into our living room.

 Birthday party: Thursday 5th April 2018

Travelling down the Budaiya highway we had a very unpleasant experience. A young man stepped into the road armed with tyres forcing me to stop very suddenly, and following on close behind was another with a large can of petrol. I made the decision to put the foot on the accelerator going over the tyres, which in seconds would have been ablaze. I think if I had not taken this action the car itself would have been part of the inferno. On our return we could see the scorch marks on the road.

But we had a very happy celebration of Saskia’s 23rd birthday in a restaurant further down the Budaiya Highway with a group of her friends mostly from the Cathedral.

Formula One Grand Prix: 6-8th February 2018

003004As we’d never been to the Grand Prix since we’d been in Bahrain and as I was not on the rota to preach on Sunday evening, and we were given (yes given! three day tickets) we headed down to the International Circuit, not sure if we would enjoy it, but with a sense of excitement in the festive air surrounding the race. We were in seats in the grandstand just above the start so, had an excellent view of the action. It was not as noisy as I had expected and feared and found that I could survive without ear plugs and the action around the race – the street performers, the concert the relaxed sitting around and enjoying simple food – made it an experience to remember. 005We particularly enjoyed the friendly bunch of East African gymnasts – we met performers from Kenya and Tanzania –  and a lively band of drummers from Columbia who through everything into their performances. And the fireworks that marked the end of the race were spectacular.

Bahrain is rightly proud to be able to put on such a prestigious event and the lack of alcohol made it all the more a family festival.


US Independence Day Celebration / Queen’s Birthday party  17th/18th April 2018

006Two festive national events on consecutive days: the first at the Four Seasons Hotel was a very early celebration of US Independence Day (Ramadan and the hot summer is approaching)  in a packed ballroom, spilling out onto the expansive terrace looking over the water to The Avenues, Bahrain’s latest experience for shopping.

007The Queen’s Birthday Party was held in the wonderful British Embassy Garden in the heart of Manama and featured as its theme the Queen’s marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh and had as the focus of its decoration a series of cakes made like the Queen’s hats. The lighting of the hedges – in red white and blue – was particularly effective too.

These occasions provide an opportunity to meet with all sorts of people and I was especially glad to meet the Philippines Ambassador and to invite him to our annual St Christopher’s Day Dinner, where the focus will be on the plight of migrant workers.


Party in the Park: Friday 20th April 2018

008009If two big parties in a week was not enough, we were delighted to attend a farewell for the principal of St Christopher’s School, Ed Goodwin and the head of the Junior School, Wendy Bataineh in what was a spectacular open air concert on the St Christopher’s sports fields in Saar. It was a magnificent event with all sorts of music groups – bands, orchestras, as well as individual musicians and duos taking part, a real showcase for the school in honouring long and faithful service to the school. It was an honour to be there and to share in the celebrations with over a thousand people.


Church of South India South Kerala 5th Anniversary: Saturday 21st April 2018 

010I was honoured to be invited to the Church of South India South Kerala Diocese celebration of their fifth anniversary as a congregation in Bahrain with a special Thanksgiving Service in the Cathedral during which three babies were baptised. The guest preacher was the Rev’d DL Paulson, who did his Masters in theology at trinity college Bristol, one of the Church of England’s Theological Colleges.  He serves as the Bishop’s Secretary and had come from India for the occasion. I was struck by the number of families and children there were which re-enforces the need to press on with our Building Project, not just for our own young people but the other groups that use our compound.


Meal out with friends: Monday 23rd April 2018

012We had a wonderful Thai meal out in the simplicity of the Banana Leaf Restaurant, one of our favourite places with Mockbul Ali, Deputy British Ambassador and Sajeda and Shareef and Janet whose wedding at the Cathedral I had taken recently. The laughter was such that the waiters had to quieten us down! Next time fish and chips we gather…



 St Christopher’s Music Festival: Wednesday 25th April 2018

It was a joy to attend the St Christopher’s Music festival finals and to witness such talent from across the community. St Christopher’s has such high quality results and gained most of the top prizes but as Andy Holman organizing his fifth and last festival said: “all who’d reached the Finals were gold medal winners.” But it was good to see the Philippines School compete so strongly with two excellent choirs and a young drummer attending the British School won everyone’s hearts with his enthusiasm and professionalism and cool outlook on life as he gave the judge a high five on receiving his trophy.

Farewell meal with Tryphena: Thursday 26th April 2018

013It’s been lovely to see Tryphena growing up in both the English-speaking and then Tamil-speaking congregation over the years that we have been here and now she’s finished her final school exams and is heading to Madurai to study English literature in a Christian college there. It was lovely to have a meal at Stephen and Jasmine’s home to say goodbye to her and to wish her well in the coming years. We gave her one of the Jerusalem cross necklaces as a reminder of her years in Bahrain and it was lovely to see her wearing it at the service the next day.



Cathedral/Awali AGM: Friday 27th April 2018

014A lot of unnecessary worry goes into the preparations for the AGM, but probably all of us have been involved in meetings where someone has an axe to grind and you never quite know what might come up under Any Other Business, but in the end all went very smoothly: the meeting was quorate, people listened and everybody seemed content and happy. The big challenge for the Council is surely to see through the Building Project, in the coming year hopefully, and it was good to hear of progress on that front.

Stations of the Resurrection: Sunday 29th April 2018

015Stations of the Cross are something that we are all familiar with: we have them around the walls of the Cathedral and during Monday to Wednesday during Holy week we set up 14 Stations that we follow round the compound, leading finally to the tomb where Jesus is laid.

This was my first experience of following Stations of the Resurrection, a service in Common Worship: Times and Seasons and using as a basis for many of the reflections, Andrew Walker’s book Journey into Joy. Choosing verses for hymns was an interesting challenge – we did not have time for many whole hymns – but generally the service was widely appreciated and used thirteen readers for the different stations.