A week in Crete: 26th January- 2nd February 2019
As we have done in most years we took a week’s post-Christmas pre- Diocesan Synod break and for the first time visited Crete. We stayed in an airbnb in Heraklion. The accommodation was fine once the hot water system and lift was sorted but as we arrived late on Saturday evening, this wasn’t till Monday. Crete’s shops are also firmly closed on Sundays but by Monday afternoon all was well. After a couple of days we hired a car to enable us to go further afield: as far as the port town of Hania in the west and Agios Nikalaos in the east, as well as visiting the Palace of Knossos; and we travelled south to Gortyna, a huge site where ancient pillars and statues are just lying around in fields . Winter is a good time to go to Crete because we had the archaeological sites almost to ourselves and there were very few too in the amazing Archaeological Museum in Heraklion. We loved the Cretan food: fresh sardines on the coast and in one small family-run restaurant up in the hills a meal was quickly knocked up and served with a carafe of wine and a wonderfully fresh salad. There was so much to see, but we felt that we’d covered a lot of ground in the time that we had.
Diocesan Synod: 4th– 8th February 2019
We returned to Cyprus on the Saturday to prepare ourselves for pre-synod meetings: for me my final Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee on the Sunday, and Tricia a Barnabas Team meeting on the Monday – she was leading a quiet morning.
Synod itself was its usual wonderful mix of worship, teaching – this year from former Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan, business – there were some tense items of business (the Synod publication Scene at Synod made the issue of Epiphany Church in Doha front page news with the headline Hijacked as well as the threat of the break-up of the Province with the Diocese of Egypt wanting to go separate ways) and I found myself chairing a few challenging sessions; a Quiet day in a nearby monastery which provided a welcome contrast, and mealtimes in the hotel, an opportunity to meet up with others across the Diocese. In addition there were a few workshops on a variety of subjects and worship experiences – I led a couple of Taize services.
After six years I have finished my term as Chair of the House of Clergy, not an arduous role, but bringing a sense of completion to my service on a Diocesan level. At the final party of Synod on the Thursday night both Tricia and I were unexpectedly presented gifts. We will miss this gathering from the different churches of the Diocese; it has been a significant part of our lives these past ten years.
Tom and Maria Vittoria Pote – Placement in Bahrain: 9th February – 7th March 2019
Over the past month ordinand Tom Pote, with his wife Maria Vittoria, has spent a month on a pastoral placement at St Christopher’s Cathedral, Bahrain immediately following on from the Diocesan Synod, which they both attended. Tom is studying at Westcott House, Cambridge and will be ordained to serve as a curate in Guildford in the summer.
As well as regular involvement leading services and preaching, speaking at the Living Room Dialogue attending wedding interviews and involved in wedding services, involvement in a weekly homegroup and leading the Exploring Faith group on Global Anglicanism, they had the opportunity to experience the Church in the wider context of Bahrain: a visit to the Migrant Workers Protection Society Shelter, a visit to the labour camp, a half-day with US Navy Chaplain Christina Mauntel in the US Navy Base, a morning in the port with Canon Stephen Thanapaul, the Mission to Seafarers’ Chaplain, a visit to the British Embassy part of my chaplaincy responsibility, a hospital visit, a meeting with prison visitors…. They also had the opportunity of meeting members of the congregation over meals both in their homes and in restaurants. Over the month they were also able to see some of Bahrain’s rich history: visiting the Bahrain Fort and its excellent museum, Shaikh Isa’s house, and the Grand Mosque, which included a visit to meet Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, who heads up the King Hamad Global Centre for Global Peaceful Co-existence.
Reflecting on their time in Bahrain Tom wrote: This experience, our first of proper ministry, has challenged, motivated and changed us (not only our waistlines) and we are sure has prepared us very well for Guildford. And it was a wonderful experience too for the cathedral community, who clearly took Tom and Maria Vittoria into their hearts.
Farewell on Budaiya Beach: Saturday 2nd February 2019
Tricia and I were asked to keep this Saturday afternoon/evening free, in fact we had to cancel an event that was in the diary. In the end all had to be revealed before the day, but it was a fun occasion on the beach: games of cricket and boules, live music, line dancing with Angel some hymn singing and some excellent biryani. A lovely occasion attended by the hardy from the cathedral and wider community and the first of the public farewells. Many thanks to David for arranging it, all who were involved in leading and playing and all who came on what must have been the coldest day of the winter!
Long w/e of Spiritual nourishment with Andrew Mayes: 7-12th March 2019
All who attended any of the events at which the Reverend Canon Dr Andrew Mayes, the Spirituality Adviser for the Diocese, was speaking, will have been blessed by his imaginative teaching. Fifty plus came to the Parish Dinner at the Wyndham Garden Hotel, when Andrew particularly reflected on the significance of meals in Jesus’ ministry which some of our guilt tucking into a fine buffet dinner on the second day of Lent! The Quiet day in Awali (both Church and Princess Sabeeka Park) drew thirty people over the day and in his addresses, which were interspersed with lengthy periods of quiet, Andrew encouraged a refreshing look at John’s Gospel and his understanding of the importance of our senses for spiritual nourishment. And on Sunday evening he led a service on Isaac the Syrian, an early Gulf saint on the theme Diving for Pearls. On Monday morning he joined the Women’s group giving an introduction to the Diocesan Lent course Eucharist and mission: The five marks of Liturgy.
Packers Arrive: Wednesday 13th March 2019
Over the past few months and especially the last month, whenever there has been a spare moment, we have been sorting things out: what to take to the charity centre, what to keep and what to throw away. The Locusts have now arrived in the form of packers sweeping up what is left, wrapping it and putting it into cardboard boxes. Hopefully that which is meant to remain – in our bedroom and in the front porch area as well as what is now on my desk will not get swept up in the whirlwind. They seem a friendly and efficient group of workers and we hope that when it reaches our new home in Birmingham, hopefully about the same time as us, that all will go as smoothly as it has today!