A double-ordination has taken place in the United Arab Emirates to serve the growing church in the country. The UAE Minister of State for Tolerance, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, attended the service as a special guest, as did the British Consul General to Dubai, Paul Fox.
The multi-national congregation gathered at Christ Church in Jebel Ali, to the south of Dubai, witnessed the ordination of Charlotte Lloyd-Evans (Charlie) as deacon; and Hin Lai Ching (Harry) as priest. They included a number of clergy, family and friends from Harry’s native Hong Kong.
The two are serving in new curacies in Dubai that have been created to serve the growing church. Harry will continue to serve the chaplaincy of Dubai, Sharjah, and the Northern Emirates from his base at Jebel Ali; while Charlotte will serve as assistant curate of Abu Dhabi Chaplaincy from a base at Al Ain, an inland oasis on the border with Oman.
The foundation stone for Christ Church in Jebel Ali was laid in 2000, and the church was consecrated two years later. It has grown from a weekly attendance of around 40 at its Friday services to a congregation in the 200s today.
“We are open to new ideas and want to witness to the saving grace of God which we have found through Jesus Christ,” the church says on its website. “We want to be part of the fabric of what makes Dubai good, drawing people closer to God and helping them to live well, alive to the Spirit of God.” Its building is used by more than 40 different congregations worshipping in 16 languages.
St Thomas’ Church in Al Ain is a new young congregation operating from a “temporary permanent” base near the town centre. “The congregation is a diverse group of people from different nationalities and backgrounds, and our desire is to build a loving, caring, sharing community with Jesus Christ at the centre of all we do,” the church says on its website. “Our motto is: Helping people to experience the joy of knowing Jesus Christ.”
After what Bishop Michael Lewis, the Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf described as a “moving and profound service”, Sheikha Lubna shared a cake cutting ceremony with the Bishop and the newly ordained clergy.
Bishop Michael later told ACNS that the presence of Sheikha Lubna at the service “gives substance to, and is further evidence of, the warm relationship and mutual respect that exists between the authorities in the UAE and the Anglican church.”