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
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
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."