The Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf will now be able to ordain women as priests and appoint them to single charge chaplaincies. The announcement was made at the annual Synod of the Diocese last week, and was warmly welcomed by members.
The bishop, Rt Rev Michael Lewis, reported that his request to have permission to ordain and appoint women had been granted by the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The other dioceses of the Province: Egypt, Iran and Jerusalem will not be affected by the change.
The first ordination of a woman priest is likely to take place in June, when the Rev Catherine Dawkins, currently serving as a deacon and assistant in the Yemen chaplaincy, will be ordained in Bahrain cathedral. The diocese has one female ordinand in training.
Bishop Lewis said, “this is something that Synod has wanted to see for some time, and I am delighted to have this new opportunity. The diocese is currently advertising for a Chaplain for South East Cyprus, and it will be good to be able to invite applications from a full range of candidates.”
The diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf covers ten political jurisdictions, and operates at the interface between Anglican and Orthodox on the one hand, and between Christian and Muslim on the other. Synod congratulated Rev Andy Thompson recently moved from Kuwait to Abu Dhabi, on being awarded the MBE for his services to the communities in which he had worked, and for furthering inter-faith relations.
This annual Synod event brings together delegates from the whole region for week long deliberation. Reports were received detailing the work being done by the church in Aden, which includes operating several clinics, and overseeing substantial social outreach and care work, for the benefit of the local Muslim population. A moving report was made by Canon Andrew White, Anglican chaplain in Baghdad, outlining their project in the city, which caters for a congregation of several hundred alongside organizing clinics, food distribution, and offering pastoral care to families bereaved in the recent massacre at the Syrian Catholic Church.
Other reports described churches that were thriving, a number of which are involved currently in building projects to cope with growth, and catering for the hundreds of thousands of Christians in the Gulf area. In his presidential address, the bishop said, “Our presence as a Church in the countries and cities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East is precious.”
He called on the churches to maintain and enhance witness and work on serious encounter with Islam as part of a five part vision for the diocese. He commended the many works of compassion, largely unknown or unsung in the wider world, in which the church is involved, and encouraged chaplaincies to work with anyone of good will for the common good, and particularly on behalf of the poor and powerless.
Issued by the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East