Dean's Blog

Dean’s Blog – August/September 2018


Return to Bahrain and start of the new academic year: August/September 2018

001After a break away the return to work I guess for all of us feels a little bit like that return to school after the summer holidays: butterflies in the stomach, not helped by the nearly twenty hours of travelling back from Sydney through Hong Kong and Dubai and with five hours in HK airport in the middle of the night. But it is never as bad as one imagines, and after one day back I was looking forward to the coming months. It was helped by seeing the congregation in good voice and spirit on the Friday morning, meeting new people who’d joined the congregation over the summer months and an exciting programme lined up for the next few months.


002The last of the weekly summer events was held at the Beijing restaurant, organized by Fozia, a wonderful Chinese meal interspersed by karaoke on a screen. I was a little uncertain how the karaoke would turn out, but it was embraced by all who came – younger and older and in between – and from the very varied national backgrounds that people come from in our community. Everybody seemed to really enjoy themselves and a contingent from the Royal Navy with their Chaplain Mark Mander clearly had a great evening too Mark kindly wrote I was encouraged when I returned back to camp that the small group had such a wonderful time. I believe it is vitally important that our sailors are able to interact with Christians and understand that our life with Christ is filled with purpose and fun.  Last night certainly proved that.

003Two of our regular Royal Navy contingent Spender and Emma – on a Friday morning were involved in a sketch Don’t interrupt me Lord, I’m praying. 004The service was structured around the Lord’s Prayer, exploring each phrase through a Bible reading, an image thrown up on the screen, a reflection from a wonderful book by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Sister Wendy Beckett – simple but profound – and a prayer. The sketch was of a person (Emma) saying the Lord’s Prayer in a routine way, hoping to get on with life, but constantly being interrupted by God (Spender), who was only heard. It was very effective and people responded very positively to the whole service saying how helpful it had been.


005A RAF Memorial service was held on Wednesday 5th September by the regional chaplain Wing Commander Ruth Hake as part of commemorations all over the world remembering those who have died on RAF duty as part of the centenary celebrations of the RAF. She moved from the War graves of Salmabad with the appropriate red and blue stripe on the industrial wall behind to the Old Cemetery in Salmabad. As ever Kalam had prepared the Cemetery for this occasion with care, but the next naval workparty looking for opportunities for voluntary service could give the walls around the service graves a scrub and a new paint.

Diocesan Forum on the Constitution: Wednesday 12th September 2018

006It was good to welcome Bishop Michael and a senior management team from the Diocese – Executive Archdeacon John Holdsworth, Honorary Finance Officer John Banfield and Dr Helen Perry from the Diocesan Office for the first of a tour of forums on the Diocesan constitution. 007We had three representatives including two priests from the Canterbury group and there were twenty Cathedral members, both from the Bahrain Anglican Church Council and those who were interested from the congregation. An excellent three-course meal in the British Club, served very efficiently, was followed by a meeting in what was the Exercise room, all sitting round a large table. Bishop Michael outlined the key Anglican fundamentals underlining the constitution and Archdeacon John followed it up by outlining the lengthy process that the revision of the Constitution had gone through. It was then open to the floor for questions and dialogue. Hopefully this process will enable a revised Diocesan Constitution to be brought to the next Synod for final ratification. We are grateful that the grassroots of Diocesan life in the Chaplaincies have had the opportunity to engage with a senior team from the Diocese in this process.

Interview on the religious tolerance in Bahrain:  Thursday 13th September 2018                             

009In a very busy week of three weddings and three visits to the airport to collect guests – this morning Katherine Lyddon, the Children’s Work Adviser in the Diocese of Exeter 008– I wondered how I was going to fit in an interview with Dana Humaidan from the National Communications Centre in Bahrain for a youtube production on religious tolerance that they are working on. But it was good to meet and talk with her and Ammar Ahmed, Managing Director of Amart Media Productions. I always feel that tolerance is too weak a word to describe the acceptance of the Christian community in Bahrain; honour and respect are more adequate words that reflect the reality. She was especially interested in both the history of the cathedral and its place in the Diocese and also the Living Room Dialogues, so I suggested that, when she has finished her project, she comes to speak about it in a future Living Room Dialogue.