Desert Retreat 15-16 February – BOOK NOW!

Desert Retreat 15-16 Feb 2013

It will soon be Valentine’s Day, but just before that we have our Ash Wednesday service on the 13th February at 7.30pm with guest speaker Revd. Murray Brown from Norton Lees in Diocese of Sheffield ( He will be preaching that evening and on the following weekend, as well as leading our Desert Retreat. Murray subtitles the retreat as ‘a taster retreat’ – in other words it’s for people who are new to this kind of thing as well as those who are used to it.  The pattern of our time will include talks, meditations and silence – all who attend are requested to leave their phones off, in their tent! (tents and sleeping bags will be provided).

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We have arranged cars to pick you up at 3pm on Friday 15th February, giving you a dune drive across the desert with photo-stops on the way to the campsite. If you are of a constitution that prefers a calmer route to the campsite this can be arranged – please specify this when you email Helen to book your place ( After a bit of camel riding, and henna design on hands or feet we will have a delicious barbecue dinner to slow you down so you are ready for the first session entitled Come away!

After a night sleeping in desert dreams beneath the star studded sky you’ll be ready for a sunrise service and breakfast. It is advisable to bring warm clothing because once the sun sets it can be cold! The morning sessions continue on the theme of ‘Hearing the still small voice’ until afternoon with a packed cold Lunch served before leaving the Campsite.

The total cost is AED 450 per person.

If you need financial assistance then please ask and we will see how we can help. If you can offer financial assistance to others please let us know.

Although the advert is also being shown at the other churches in the chaplaincy I wouldn’t want any of the CCJA folk to miss out so I stress: please book early as we are limited to a maximum of 50 people.

Kwasa Centre, South Africa

Children at the Kwasa Centre in South Africa - a charity supported by Christ Church Jebel AliThe Kwasa Centre provides children from the Vukuzenzele informal settlement 2 kilometres away with a wide range of care, support, education and vocational training. All the children live in shacks, where there is no electricity, and no water toilets. The 20,000 people who live in Vukuzenzele share just five water taps. Local primary and high schools are 12 – 15 kilometres away. The nearest clinic is 15 kilometres away. Unemployment is very high in the settlement, and parents are very poor.

The Kwasa Centre is based in the buildings of a former mining clinic and the local priest, Archdeacon Sharron Dinnie, has worked tirelessly to raise funds for new classrooms to be added, and most recently, a multi-media centre for older children. Some of the land has also been purchased and turned into a vegetable garden to provide fresh food for the children, who are given breakfast, lunch and refreshments. They are also provided with clothing out of donations received. The little children are transported to and from the settlement to the Kwasa Centre. The older children walk.

The Kwasa Centre also provides around 60 primary and high school pupils with after-school care i.e. volunteers supervise homework, they are provided with a solid meal and play sports and games. Several of the children are HIV positive and some of these are on Anti Retroviral drugs (ARVs).

For news about the Kwasa Centre, take a look at the Charities Notice Board when you come to church or better still, just click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the right to get that news straight in your inbox.

You can make a donation to the Kwasa Centre through the Church Office or, alternatively, online through the Bishop Simeon Trust.

Christ Church has been supporting the Kwasa Centre in Gauteng, South Africa for a number of years as one of our “Congregation Nominated” charities.  We have a well established relationship with the centre and also Sharon Dinnie who runs the centre, through Jean and Marianne van Loggerenberg, who not only keep us well informed but also visit Kwasa fairly frequently. This year (2012) they received a donation from the Chaplaincy, based on our recommendation.

Visit the Kwasa page at the Bishop Simeon Trust website.

If you would like to explore how else you might get involved with the Kwasa Centre you can talk to Jane Chang who visited them last year, or Jeán van Loggerenberg, or get in touch with Carrie (our Charities Representative) through our online contact form and she can give you contact details for them.

The Boghpur Children’s Home, India

The Bhogpur Children's Home - a charity supported by Christ Church Jebel AliThe Children’s Home is seen by many in the leper community as a place of opportunity and hope for their children. Without this ministry the chance of their children getting educated and being successful is often not obtainable. The parent’s live in leper colonies where their only income is from begging, which occupies their full day. They do not have the money or time to care for their children. But even if they did have the money, their children would be mistreated and not allowed in local schools. Furthermore, many of the parents move frequently which would disrupt their children’s education if they lived together.

Every year there are more parents wanting to get their children into the home than there are places at the Home. The continued social stigma, caste discrimination and poverty that affects those with leprosy creates a situation where a child would be locked into poverty if there was no way for them to escape this environment.

Watch this video, made in 2011 by a mission team from Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church in the USA, for a fascinating insight into this community.

Visit the Boghpur Children’s Home website.

If you would like to explore how else you might get involved with the Boghpur Children’s Home you can talk to Ajai or Sarah Dayal or get in touch with Carrie (our Charities Representative) through our online contact form and she can give you contact details for them.

Videos from around the Diocese

Videos from around the Diocese of Cyprus and the GulfWe are very pleased to make a number of videos and presentations made by churches around our Diocese available to you.

Videos from the Diocese on Vimeo

Click on the link which will take you to Vimeo and the videos that have been uploaded there.  We hope that you can take a few minutes to watch these videos which will give you a unique insight into churches throughout our Diocese.


Holy Places

Dedication of St Luke's Church, Ras Al Khaimah - the assembled peopleYesterday we went to the dedication of the new St. Luke’s Church in Ras Al Khaimah. It was a wonderful occasion. Seeing the small music group I know from my visits to the portacabin church building they had getting a chance to shine  in front of such a large gathering was lovely. Seeing everyone there from all the different churches, familiar faces from all accross the northern emirates, was fun too, though I do wish I was better at remembering names!

The most moving part for me was as we moved around the building dedicating different areas Dedicating St Luke's Church, Ras Al Khaimah - Nelson Bill Michael Ruwanof it for specific purposes – the Bishop getting particularly moved at the dedication of the altar or communion table. He walked round it anointing it, marking it with a cross in each of the four corners, smearing oil in the middle of it, and then, having anounced the peace, went round it again, focussed on it as we shared the peace together. It’s a big thing, dedicating something for such a purpose. As he walked round it it reminded me of a visit to the church in Nazareth where an Indian Orthodox priest in our party asked if he might enter the sanctuary, and once in, walked round the altar in much the same way, kissing each corner, where I presume it had been anointed in it’s day with four crosses, before going to the cave at the back. It left a strong impression, brought back by the Bishop’s anointing yesterday.

Despencer Reredos NorwichI like the idea of holy objects, though I’m not so caught up on them as some. I am not comfortable using the baptism font as a flower stand or a stand for the Advent wreath, I can’t see the communion table as an ordinary table to rest speakers on, or to use simply as an extra table or whatever for a church function, though I am content to put the church collection on it. It’s a holy, set apart table.

Holiness can be forgotten, and also lost. The Spencer Reredos in Norwich, which I like for one figure in particular in it, was painted in 1380 and then someone turned it into a plumbers table to save it from destruction during the reformation. Nobody looked under the table until a more conscientious cleaner in 1847 looked up while cleaning under it and saw the guilded pictures of Christ’s story. The missing plank with the top of the picture was replaced, Jesus head and arms painted in the style of a 14th century, and the painting restored to being a holy object to inspire prayer and communion with God.

I could go on to a nice point about our own holiness as creatures of God being lost, but the possibility of restoration being possible in Christ – do think of that if you wish – it is a deep point much to be meditated upon in this season overshadowed by Holy Week. But what I’m pondering on today is the holiness of objects themselves. There are some objects I regard as not ordinary, set apart, and though it’s not a word I’m wholly comfortable with because of it’s size, as holy. Normally we think of this with regard to God, but it’s there in the marriage service too – we pray that a couple may be joined in holiness, amongst other things, to each other. It is a big thing, a deep thing, a communion with God thing that we should have objects which we set apart and regard as holy.

Is it modern to live without this? Without this we are as the beasts that perish.

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