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Bahrain celebrates at 60

22 March 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

Jubilee: St Christopher's Cathedral, Bahrain

Jubilee: St Christopher's Cathedral, Bahrain

THE sole Anglican cathedral in the Gulf, St Christopher's, in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, celebrated its diamond jubilee last weekend. A special service was held on Sunday, at which the preacher was the Bishop of Cyprus & the Gulf, the Rt Revd Michael Lewis. St Christopher's was consecrated in 1953, and became a cathedral in 1986.

In his sermon, Bishop Lewis noted how the part played by St Christopher's had evolved during the past 60 years. In its early days, it served the British expatriate community almost exclusively. Since then, it has become multicultural, and now has worshippers from all around the world.

The Dean of St Christopher's, the Very Revd Christopher Butt, describes how, on the cathedral council, there are seven different nationalities; and 44 congregations use the cathedral and various halls in the compound each week for worship and meetings.

St Christopher's School opened in 1961 as part of the church, and today is an independent school with more than 2000 pupils.

Bahrain has been in the international news over the past two years because of continuing protests against the Sunni-dominated government by members of the majority Shia community. Dean Butt says that the island "is still fairly tense, with tyre-burning and attacks on the police common in certain areas".

The St Christopher's compound is surrounded by the Ministry of the Interior, and there are sometimes protests there, about 50 metres away. But the cathedral itself has never been in danger, and "the Christian community has continued to carry on worshipping without any interruption," the Dean says.

The government has responded to the protests by instigating a national dialogue to try to resolve political differences. "It's not getting very far at the moment," Dean Butt says. "But at least people are talking."

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