Dean's Blog

Dean’s Blog – June 2018

Gulf Clergy Gathering: Tuesday 5th June –Thursday 7th June 2018

001Several of the Gulf Clergy and two spouses met at the Al Mana Centre in Muscat, Oman from 5th to 7th June at the invitation of the Chaplain, the Rev’d Chris Howitz, and the Executive Director of the centre the Rev’d Aaro Rytkonen, a Lutheran pastor from Finland.

Some were accommodated at the centre, while others were generously hosted by families in Muscat.

The programme began with an introduction to the interfaith and cross-cultural work of the Al Mana Centre by the Executive Director, including a session on Scriptural reasoning; time reflecting together on some of the pastoral issues that we share in common in the Gulf chaplaincies; and some reflection on our needs for lay training in our chaplaincies and what resources are available.

On the final morning we visited the beautiful Grand Mosque, its cloisters and gardens.

We are very grateful to Chris Howitz for all his hard work in co-ordinating all the arrangements, to Aaro Rytkonen for the time he gave and Archdeacon Bill for keeping us focused for the two days. Sadly not all were able to make it but those who did appreciated this refreshing time together.


A Lifetime of Landscape Gardening:  Sunday 10th June 2018

002A regular member of our Sunday evening congregation, landscape gardener John Davies, was the speaker at this month’s St Christopher’s Cathedral Living Room Dialogue. John began his career serving as a gardener in public parks in Manchester, and this had a deep impact on him creating beautiful spaces that were open for all, but has since created gardens for private customers here in Bahrain, where he has been resident for many years, in Saudi Arabia, in Abu Dhabi but also in Nigeria, the Seychelles and India. In particular he reflected on the spiritual dimension of his work, interacting with the beauty of both the physical world and an architect’s design.

Living Room Dialogues take a break for the summer, when so many people are away but resume in October.


Bishop’s Council/ Standing Committee in Cyprus: Thursday 14th June 2018

One of the facets of our Diocese is that diocesan meetings have to take place a flight away, so for an all day meeting to discuss the Diocesan Constitution and its implications for individual chaplaincies I had to travel to Cyprus for three days returning on Friday evening. Not the most exciting meeting, but an important one to work through the governance of the Diocese and its chaplaincies and I was able to blow away a few cobwebs with three swims in the sea which was an added bonus.


School events and Farewells to Ed Goodwin and Wendy Bataineh: June 2017

003004At this time of the year there are a stream of St Christopher’s School events to which Governors are invited. It is impossible to get to everything, but this year I have attended the Junior and Infant Summer Concert;  Prefect Interviews – meeting some very gifted and articulate young people over a morning; a celebration of achievement for Years 6 and seven and a production of Alice in the Senior School. In addition there has been a Governors Board Meeting and a couple of farewells to Ed Goodwin and Wendy Bataineh, who have given so much  as Principal and Head of the Junior school over so many years (23 and 16 respectively). After all the farewells that they have received in recent weeks, they will, I’m sure, be exhausted. But all good wishes to them as they retire to Northumberland and thanks for their wholehearted and distinguished service to St Christopher’s School and the lives of many individuals who have attended the school over the years.



Recycling Container emptied: Saturday 30th June 2018

005It has been a great encouragement to see the recycling bin introduced into the compound just a month ago fill up and to know that all the bottles in the bin would have ended up in landfill with all the damage done to the environment. It’s a small contribution but one realizes that in working together we can multiply the effect and begin to change the culture. When I go for a walk in the morning now I take a bag with me to collect plastic bottles on the street and in the cemetery adjacent to the Cathedral and have never brought back less than 55 bottles!



Sister Act:  Wednesday 4th July

006The first of the summer programme events took place this evening with a meal- which turned into a feast as everyone brought something to share, though it was catered for! But a good evening and everyone seemed to enjoy both the food and the movie, both adults and young people.These summer evenings are I believe important both to keep a sense of community over the summer when so many are away but also to welcome and integrate those who are new. It also gives an opportunity to invite those unconnected to the church community at present. I’m glad the first evening fulfilled all those functions.