Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf https://cypgulf.org Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf Mon, 22 Nov 2021 11:03:26 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 https://cypgulf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/cropped-Diocesan-Crest-ICON-32x32.png Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf https://cypgulf.org 32 32 St John Deryneia: five confirmations and a Reception https://cypgulf.org/st-john-deryneia-five-confirmations-and-a-reception/ Mon, 22 Nov 2021 11:00:53 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14384 While torrential rain poured down outside, five candidates were confirmed on Sunday 21 November 2021 at St John the Evangelist Deryneia. Archbishop Michael also received a candidate already confirmed…

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Bishop Group Confirmation

While torrential rain poured down outside, five candidates were confirmed on Sunday 21 November 2021 at St John the Evangelist Deryneia. Archbishop Michael also received a candidate already confirmed in another mainline Christian tradition into full communion in our Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

All were presented by Fr Peter Day, retired priest at St John’s with Permission to Officiate, and Clive Lawford, Reader. The Anglican congregation of St John has full use of the Orthodox church of St Phanourios, which was full for the occasion.

St John Deryneia Exterior

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Reflections on memory https://cypgulf.org/reflections-on-memory/ Wed, 10 Nov 2021 08:42:54 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14367 By John Holdsworth, Canon Theologian at Nicosia Cathedral Image: Felix Mittermeier In her best-selling novel, “The Giver,” made into a film in 2014, children’s author Lois Lowry describes a dystopian community in the year 2048 (cf 1984). The striking characteristic of this community is that it has abolished pain. Pain is no more. Tears have […]

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By John Holdsworth, Canon Theologian at Nicosia Cathedral

Image: Felix Mittermeier

In her best-selling novel, “The Giver,” made into a film in 2014, children’s author Lois Lowry describes a dystopian community in the year 2048 (cf 1984). The striking characteristic of this community is that it has abolished pain. Pain is no more. Tears have been wiped from eyes. Lots of Christian echoes there. Hurrah, we may say, but a price has been paid for this achievement. In order for there to be no suffering, there are three more conditions. This is a society without choice. All the choices are made by a faceless group and communicated electronically. It is a society in which relationship is forbidden. From puberty, people have to take medication to suppress any impulses in that direction. Children are born, but at the decision of the faceless group, and without any intervention that could be called ‘loving.’ Euthanasia is practised on the old. The third thing that has been sacrificed is memory.

We can see the logic behind this. Wrong choices, sometimes deliberate and what Christians might call sinful, are often at the heart of the causes of suffering. Anyone who has loved knows also what it is to suffer, even if the suffering results from the loss of the loved one. And memory is what prevents us living entirely in the moment. It recalls past suffering, and linked with relationship, brings to mind lost joys.

The author is on the one hand, to an extent, analysing suffering and its causes, but on the other is making a profound point about what it is to be human. Without relationship, without choice and without memory she is saying that we are no longer recognizable as such. This accords with our recent experience of lockdowns. Choice was taken away from us. In some places permission had to be sought even to move outside our own property. Relationship was impossible. Apart from the growing culture of ‘my neighbour is my enemy’, legal restraints meant that meetings between family members, lovers, social groups could not occur. We lost all sense of time as familiar landmarks of memory were taken away. And for many of us that made us feel less then human and taught us valuable lessons about what that means.

More profoundly still the author is saying that suffering is part of the human condition; and should be accepted as such. The appropriate response to suffering is not necessarily to ask, ‘why?’ in a way that often seeks a moral cause and can lead to a kind of Christian masochism that holds a picture of the worthlessness of humanity as its paradigm, as in some branches of Christianity. The appropriate response, in the first place is to activate our relationship possibility of caring. As Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians “He consoles us in all our troubles, so that we in turn may be able to console others in any trouble of theirs, and to share with them the consolation we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Interestingly the word for consolation is the same word in Greek that gives us the description of the Holy Spirit as Comforter.

Memory is not only vital in its relation to suffering. Without memory we cannot learn, cannot reflect, cannot gain perspective, cannot grow in understanding. This is a season of remembering: saints, the departed, the fallen and injured in battle. In Cyprus we remember a time when Greece said ‘no’ to Mussolini. In the UK we remember an attempt to destroy democracy by blowing up the king and parliament. But every week we have a ceremony to remember, which we call the Eucharist. It is a time to celebrate our humanity as we encounter the risen, once incarnate, Christ. That memory recalls suffering but it is also the foundation of our hope. It is a celebration of God’s gifts. Memory, however painful, is one of them.

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St Paul’s playground for children in need https://cypgulf.org/st-pauls-playground-for-children-in-need/ Tue, 09 Nov 2021 11:27:00 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14348 A bright, colourful children’s playground has recently sprung up in the grounds of St Paul’s Cathedral in Nicosia

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St Paul’s Cathedral, Nicosia, Children’s Playground

A bright, colourful children’s playground has recently sprung up in the grounds of St Paul’s Cathedral in Nicosia—part of a Diocesan project to support families in need, funded by The Episcopal Church of America’s United Thank Offering (UTO).

Trampoline

UTO makes regular grants to the dioceses of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The latest grant, to the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, supports St Paul’s in its work with needy families, most of whom are refugees and asylum-seekers. As well as playground equipment, including a trampoline and slide, the grant pays for hot meals and food packages.

Slide

Hot meals—served at St Paul’s three times a month—are a welcome opportunity for otherwise isolated families to connect, socialise and share experiences. As the number of people attending grows, it is also hoped to add an educational element for the children of uprooted families. Food packages contain staple products for home-cooked meals, such as rice, flour, pasta, cooking oil and tinned tomatoes.

UTO Meals
The Diocese and St Paul’s are deeply grateful for UTO’s help in improving the lives of people who find themselves many miles away from home and in an increasingly desperate situation.
UTO Logo

The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church of America for the mission of the whole church. Through UTO, individuals are invited to embrace and deepen a personal daily spiritual discipline of gratitude. UTO encourages people to notice the good things that happen each day, give thanks to God for those blessings and make an offering for each blessing using a UTO Blue Box. UTO is entrusted to receive the offerings, and to distribute the 100% of what is collected to support innovative mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

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Archbishop Michael licenses two for ministry in the Diocese https://cypgulf.org/archbishop-michael-licenses-two-for-ministry-in-the-diocese/ Thu, 04 Nov 2021 12:31:19 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14322 St Helena Larnaca The Diocese welcomes the Revd George Vidiakin, licensed by Archbishop Michael as an Associate Priest at St Helena Larnaca, and Clive Lawford, licensed as Reader at St John Deryneia, in October. St John Deryneia Fr George was born in Russia and grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church, where he was ordained […]

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St Helena Larnaca

The Diocese welcomes the Revd George Vidiakin, licensed by Archbishop Michael as an Associate Priest at St Helena Larnaca, and Clive Lawford, licensed as Reader at St John Deryneia, in October.

St John Deryneia

Fr George was born in Russia and grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church, where he was ordained deacon in 2013 and priest in 2014. While ministering in Cyprus, he left the Russian Orthodox Church and began worshipping at St Helena’s as a lay person with his wife, Regina.

George and Regina found a warm welcome there, and in March 2020 he was received by Archbishop Michael into the Anglican Communion. 

“As I was getting more and more familiar with Anglicanism it struck me that actually the Anglican tradition is the one I was looking for,” says George. “I was excited by its open-mindedness, inclusivity and comprehensiveness. The Anglican tradition is simultaneously catholic and reformed—this is a very important part of Anglican identity.”

Revd George Vidiakin
Revd George Vidiakin, Archdeacon Christopher Futcher & Archbishop Michael

At the same time, George brings to his Anglican ministry treasures from Orthodoxy. “An appreciation of patristic writings,” he says, “are a real treasure of Christian philosophy and thought. I also love the fact that Orthodox tradition pays a lot of attention to the spiritual life, to the inner conditions of a human’s soul.” 

Alongside his contribution to ministry at St Helena’s as an SSM (self-supporting minister), George continues his theological studies through the Queen’s College Exploring Faith course. He also works as a Greek/Russian translator.  In his free time, George enjoys reading, listening to audiobooks, cycling and cooking. “My wife says that I am good at it,” he says, “so I have to trust her.”

Clive Lawford was admitted and licensed as a Diocesan Reader at St John Deryneia. He settled in Cyprus with his wife Anna five years ago, after working in the UK as an engineering project manager. They quickly found a home in St John’s.

Like George, Clive has also come to Anglicanism from another Christian tradition, having attended and been in leadership in independent evangelical churches for many years. He brings from that past experience an enthusiasm to lead believers into a closer sense of fellowship with God as disciples of Jesus Christ. Clive contributes often to church music, playing guitar and singing.

Clive Lawford & Revd Peter Day
Clive Lawford licensed by Archbishop Michael

“I think the gift of music and praise within worship are a key element of our gatherings,” he says. “We have the examples in the Old Testament of musicians being used in worship to lead and support the praise of the worshippers. I see strong exhortations in the New Testament to rejoice with praise towards God. I note that the whole of heaven is filled with the worship of its inhabitants towards God, so in that sense we are preparing ourselves for an eternity of praise.”

Clive leads worship at St John’s twice a month. He feels, he says, blessed by the comprehensiveness and rhythm of the liturgy, and is particularly drawn to the congregational responsive elements of Anglican worship.

Clive and George continue their theological studies in the same learning group—to which each brings rich insights from their different Christian backgrounds.

Alongside his studies and preparation for leading worship, Clive joins in many parts of church life at St John’s. In his free time, he and Anna enjoy swimming, walking and exploring the coastline and countryside of Cyprus. They have children and grandchildren in the UK and the US, and enjoy travelling to catch up with family and friends.

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BTh degrees awarded at St Paul’s cathedral https://cypgulf.org/bth-degrees-awarded-at-st-pauls-cathedral/ Wed, 27 Oct 2021 17:40:13 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14298 A degree congregation was held at St Paul’s cathedral Nicosia on 26th October, to admit four new Queen’s College graduates to the BTh in Discipleship and Ministry—Ray Elliott, Kevin Moore, the Revd Ian Nicholson and the Revd Charlie Lloyd-Evans (in absentia). Archbishop Michael admitted the graduates, expressing his delight at being present on this special occasion, […]

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A degree congregation was held at St Paul’s cathedral Nicosia on 26th October, to admit four new Queen’s College graduates to the BTh in Discipleship and Ministry—Ray Elliott, Kevin Moore, the Revd Ian Nicholson and the Revd Charlie Lloyd-Evans (in absentia).

Archbishop Michael admitted the graduates, expressing his delight at being present on this special occasion, and his appreciation of the six years of hard work that had led to the awards. The occasion was set in the context of a service of Evening Prayer led by Director of Ministry Archdeacon Christopher at which the Archbishop preached, speaking of the importance of Wisdom and of recognising its source in Christ himself.

This was the second graduation ceremony to have been held in Cyprus as a result of the special link between Queen’s and the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf.

On this occasion the three graduands present were all from Cyprus, but students are following the course from throughout the Diocese.

A letter of congratulation from Queen’s College Provost Dr Joanne Mercer was read by Revd Dr John Holdsworth, a member of the Adjunct academic Faculty at Queen’s and lately Director of Ministry for the Diocese.

Dr Mercer reflected that the founders of Queen’s—established in 1841—would have been amazed to know that graduates of the College were being admitted four thousand miles away, but it was wonderful that despite that distance these new graduates were connected to Queen’s in a special way.

 

 

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Rooftop dinner in Bahrain https://cypgulf.org/rooftop-dinner-in-bahrain/ Wed, 20 Oct 2021 14:20:31 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14287 A grand evening social occasion on the roof of the cathedral’s new auxiliary buildings in Bahrain coincided with Archbishop Michael’s October visit.   The occasion mixed worshippers from both Tamil- and English-language streams within the congregation, along with some of their friends. “We haven’t met to enjoy one another’s company as a whole church community […]

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A grand evening social occasion on the roof of the cathedral’s new auxiliary buildings in Bahrain coincided with Archbishop Michael’s October visit.  

The occasion mixed worshippers from both Tamil- and English-language streams within the congregation, along with some of their friends. “We haven’t met to enjoy one another’s company as a whole church community for so long,” said one of those present.

Eucharists in Bahrain take place on Friday morning, Friday evening, Saturday morning at the oil town of Awali, and Sunday evening. On this occasion the archbishop presided and preached at all of them. He and Dean Bill Schwartz also called on the British ambassador and his deputy to discuss local and regional issues, and viewed the allocated site of a new Christian cemetery for all denominations, which has been sorely needed for a long time. 

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The tree of shame has become the tree of glory: Baghdad celebrates the Holy Cross https://cypgulf.org/the-tree-of-shame-has-become-the-tree-of-glory-baghdad-celebrates-the-holy-cross/ Mon, 20 Sep 2021 09:09:28 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14158 Previous Next On 13 September 2021 St George Baghdad kept the Eve of the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross in Iraqi fashion.  Canon Faiz Jerjes presided at the celebration, part of which involves kindling fire in a bowl and stepping across it. This reflects the tradition that, when in about the year […]

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On 13 September 2021 St George Baghdad kept the Eve of the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross in Iraqi fashion. 

Canon Faiz Jerjes presided at the celebration, part of which involves kindling fire in a bowl and stepping across it. This reflects the tradition that, when in about the year 327 the Empress St Helena found the remains of the true cross on which Jesus died in Jerusalem, she ordered a series of bonfires to be lit in relay across the eastern empire to let her son Constantine, back in Constantinople, know that she had at last and with deep joy found the central symbol of the Christian faith: the instrument of execution that was nothing other than the place of the world’s healing and salvation. 

In some key words from the liturgy for this feast of the Holy Cross: “The tree of shame has become the tree of glory; and, where life was lost, there life has been restored.” 

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Theology for a harsh world: Summer School in Beirut 2021 https://cypgulf.org/theology-for-a-harsh-world-summer-school-in-beirut-2021/ Tue, 14 Sep 2021 17:42:23 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=14091 The Diocesan Summer School this year became the largest gathering across the diocese since the start of the pandemic. It is a course for those training for ordained or lay ministry in the diocese. It took place in Beirut in Lebanon at the NEST (Near East School of Theology) from 22-29 August. Beirut port one […]

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The Diocesan Summer School this year became the largest gathering across the diocese since the start of the pandemic. It is a course for those training for ordained or lay ministry in the diocese. It took place in Beirut in Lebanon at the NEST (Near East School of Theology) from 22-29 August.

Beirut port one year after blast.
Beirut port one year after blast.

A topic considered… Who is Christ for us today?

This is just one year after the explosion in Beirut laid waste to the port killing more than 200 people. Even today the sight of the damage, most of which is not yet repaired, brought home the horror of that day to everyone who witnessed it. Those who lived through it now relive the events daily as they try to rebuild their lives in a city that is in serious decline, with only two hours of government electricity a day, fuel shortages that result in kilometre-long queues, resulting in the inability therefore to run generators, a lack of mains water, rubbish uncollected in the street and an economy that is close to total collapse.

The whole city population is almost in a state of post-traumatic stress and thousands are leaving daily, many of them the very people needed to rebuild the country when the political will, both local and international, is found. Streets of shops are boarded up, empty homes and crumbling infrastructure are widespread and it all adds to the general feeling of malaise, desperation and anger.

House damage one year after blast
House damage one year after blast

It was into that context, that students and staff gathered in Beirut from all across the diocese for the Summer School. The aim of the school is to augment study through the year with a focused time of learning and fellowship. This brings expert teachers from many traditions to study the Bible and to worship together. By facilitating people from all across the diocese this also helps to highlight diocesan solidarity, and encourage students to become reflective theological practitioners in their own right.

As one of the students, Stanley Alfred Muthoti, put it, ‘The Summer School program was so well designed to give participants the real-life experiences. There was a depth in every subject chosen to take us deep into them and live them for a moment. The whole new experiences of Reflecting Theology through poetry, music, art and exposure visits were so new and it thought me to be focused as there is so much around us in our daily which we can look at and learn which will help us enhance our spiritual and physical life. The exposure visits were heart touching moments.’

Summer School 2021 Class
Summer School 2021 Class
Tree of remembrance.
Tree of remembrance.

Another topic… Reflecting with Art

The Rev’d Dr Rima Nasrallah van Saane, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, and her husband the Rev’d Dr Wilbert van Saane, worked hard under these very difficult conditions to organise these ‘exposure trips’, to give everyone a picture of Lebanon’s troubled past and present.

The Armenian Genocide Museum, a former orphanage for children of the genocide, brought awareness of the first genocide of the 20th century in which millions died in a forced migration: The photographs and mementoes are a record of a terrible time. In the 21st century, the Armenian population of Lebanon, once thriving, is now diminishing as the economic disaster forces them once again to migrate for survival.

A trip to an art gallery, north of Byblos, demonstrated how art can be used to express anger, grief and hope. One particular artwork, a pair of slippers, revealed the horror of murder camps during the genocide in which the number of those killed was calculated by the number of slippers remaining at the end of the day. Dr Rima gave a thoughtful lecture on how art and Christianity are closely linked.

 

Another topic… Finding Christ in the Stranger

One of the passages studied in the Summer School was the Syrophoenician woman from Mark 7. This chapter from the Gospels is set in Tyre, in the south of Lebanon, and that became the destination for the final trip of the summer school.

Driving down the coastal highway, Hezbollah flags flying either side of the road, and the closeness of Israel from where artillery rounds were rained down during the 2006 war, brought the news reports into sharp focus. To think too that Jesus himself walked on this very land made the visit very special and the ancient ruins in the town where the woven cloth was dyed made for a fascinating at wonderful trip.

This was the last summer school to be organised by the Rev Dr John Holdsworth before he retired as Director of Ministry.  The final weekend he handed over that role to Archdeacon Christopher Futcher.

 

Slipper artwork
Slipper artwork
Slipper artwork
Slipper artwork

Another topic… Finding Christ in the Stranger

One of the passages studied in the Summer School was the Syrophoenician woman from Mark 7. This chapter from the Gospels is set in Tyre, in the south of Lebanon, and that became the destination for the final trip of the summer school.

Driving down the coastal highway, Hezbollah flags flying either side of the road, and the closeness of Israel from where artillery rounds were rained down during the 2006 war, brought the news reports into sharp focus. To think too that Jesus himself walked on this very land made the visit very special and the ancient ruins in the town where the woven cloth was dyed made for a fascinating at wonderful trip.

This was the last summer school to be organised by the Rev Dr John Holdsworth before he retired as Director of Ministry.  The final weekend he handed over that role to Archdeacon Christopher Futcher.

 

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Season of Creation 2021 https://cypgulf.org/season-of-creation-2021/ Wed, 08 Sep 2021 13:16:57 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=13988 DOWNLOAD PDF POSTER FOR PRINTING

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Dawn to Darkness https://cypgulf.org/dawn-to-darkness/ Wed, 08 Sep 2021 13:00:36 +0000 https://cypgulf.org/?p=13970 DOWNLOAD PDF POSTER FOR PRINTING

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