Bishop Azad Marshall was installed as sixth Bishop in Iran in a multilingual and ceremony of many facets at St Pauls Church Tehran on Sunday August 5.
Over two hundred people attended the three hour service which was marked by outstanding singing in Farsi and English by the House of Worship and Messiah Worship Choir and orchestra. www.honiball.com. The congregation included Anglicans, members of the Assemblies of God,.Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims. The service was also attended by a senior official from the office of the President who spoke afterwards of the respect and freedom given to all religious minorities.
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali of Rochester preached on the eve of the Feast of Transfiguration on Jesus appearance on the Mountain and hoped that Bishop Marshall would free his people to be followers of the risen Christ, and help them know what they have to put off and what to put on to live his risen life. ‘The glory of God is to be seen in the risen Jesus and also the glory of men and women as they are meant to be which we have lost through sin and rebellion.’
As part of the greetings from religious and civic leaders, an Ayatollah from the Council of Guidance began with giving respect to the great prophet Jesus Christ and his holy mother St Mary. He spoke warmly of religious tolerance. ‘When everyone praises God because they are happy they are linked with us. Anyone in suffering who asks God for help in the middle of the night is our brother. We feel great sympathy and closeness for everyone who believes God in his heart Those priests and bishops who are asking God for help in the middle of the night are paving the way for morality in society’.
The Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Mouneer Anis said: ‘Many countries in the Middle East are places where religions and civilizations came together. They speak now of a clash of civilizations. By the grace of God we want to return back to the origin with the civilizations of this region where civilizations came together for a better world and humanity.’ The Archbishop of Canterbury also sent greetings: ‘The task of building relationships with government and religious leaders is an important element in the ministry to which you are called and we look forward to working with you in promoting deeper mutual understanding.’
On the evening before the installation, all the visiting Bishops and Archbishops visited the mausoleum-shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini and laid a wreath. They were accorded a guard of honour and met with government officials.
At the close of the service Bishop Azad said ‘My Christ did not come for only Christians; my Christ is for the whole world. With your help and co-operation I will seek to serve both Muslims and Christians because Christ came to serve all.’
In an intriguing finale, as Bishop Marshall closed his final blessing on the City, Country and Diocese, the power failed and the modern church was plunged in darkness for a few minutes before lighting was restored and the reception could begin.