The foundation stone for Christ Church Jebel Ali was laid on 3rd November 2000 and says “This stone was laid to the glory of God and in thanksgiving for the rulers of Dubai by Right Rev. Clive Handford Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf.” The church was subsequently consecrated on 8 March 2002.
Jebel Ali is a hill in the desert south of Dubai – the name Jebel Ali itself means ‘Small Mountain’.
The church land area is approximately 16,500 ft2. It comprises of a single building with one large main hall downstairs and three medium size halls upstairs together with basement-parking for about 40 cars. The building also includes three residential flats, two of which house the caretakers who live on site. Everyone who visits the church feels the calm and peaceful atmosphere inside as the combination of light-coloured wood and alternating gold and blue themed windows creates a calm mood as you enter. People may come at any time to pray.
This is the second Anglican Church within the Emirate of Dubai and is one of five churches in the Anglican Chaplaincy of Dubai and Sharjah with the Northern Emirates (the others being in Fujeirah, Ras Al Khaimeh and Sharjah). It was built to serve the spiritual needs of faithful working/living in Jebel Ali Free Zone, Al Quoz, Jebel Ali Industrial Area, Jebel Ali Village, Jebel Ali Gardens, The Greens, Emirates Hills, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah. However, with the rapid growth of population people now come to worship from Mirdif, and Arabian Ranches as there is no church near to them there.
At the Consecration of the church Bishop Clive Handford of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf came with representatives from other parts of our diocese as well as hundreds of people from the Chaplaincy of Dubai and Sharjah with the Northern Emirates to a joyful ceremony thanking God for his blessings, and praying for the Rulers of Dubai who had graciously given the land.
After the building
Revd. Jim Wakerley was the first priest appointed to the church in 2002. The congregation was small at first because it felt like Jebel Ali was in the middle of the desert far from everywhere except Jebel Ali Village itself on the seaward slope of the hill (Jebel). Jim Wakerley, who came from an engineering background was the perfect choice as regards the building – when workmen came to repair or put right some of the teething troubles with the new building he could tell whether they were doing it right or not and it was harder for them to fob him off with a cheap job. The congregation loved him, and his wife Carol, and the children waited eagerly each week to see what he would bring out of his bag for the children’s talk! The Friday congregation grew to about 40 members in that year, and the Sunday congregation reached double figures on Jim’s last Sunday. If they had all come on the same week then they would have been up to 20 but, such is life in Dubai, that every week brings a different subset of regulars to church. Jim laid many a good foundation for his successor, one being the formation of a ‘Missions Committee’, a group of congregation members to advise and help the priest in the mission of the church – this group was elected in the last month of his ministry with us.
Revd. Canon Stephen Wright came in January 2004 and with the growth of Dubai out towards Jebel Ali came the growth too of the church: attendance by 2007 was regularly 150 or so on a Friday, 50 or so on a Sunday, and the Friday School group had grown into five groups for different ages from 3 to teen age and the number of guest congregations grew from 13 to 26.
Revd. Tim Heaney arrived in January 2015 determined to build on the growth of the church and continue to make Christ Church Jebel Ali and Academic City part of the fabric of what makes Dubai good.
The leadership of the church at first was from the wider chaplaincy until the first resident priest could take up office in Jebel Ali.
Revd. Denis Gurney from Holy Trinity church Dubai
Revd. Bill Atkins from St. Martin’s Church, Sharjah
Revd. Jim Wakerley (December 2002-January 2004)
Revd. Canon Stephen Wright (January 2004-December 2014)
Revd. Tim Heaney (January 2015 to date)
Our first caretaker was Gabriel Joseph, our first administrator was Irene Casey, first weddings secretary Vivien Wetherill, and first (and current) office assistant is Esther Eluwah.
You can find out more about the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf on their website, and there is a good summary of the history of the Chaplaincy of Dubai and Sharjah with the Northern Emirates here on Wikipedia.