|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
Trinity, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Trinity, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Diocese
of Cyprus and the Gulf, Chaplaincy
of Dubai and Sharjah with the Northern Emirates.
A modern building set at the far end of a compound of many other
buildings. Included in the compound are halls and meeting rooms.
The church has a modern spire roof. The altar is a solid piece
Quoting from their website: They "provide a home for over
a hundred guest congregations, made up of expatriate Christians
from all around the world who worship God in many tongues, styles
of devotion and expressions of faith in the premises and facilities
we share with them." Father Ruwan told us that there are
over 35,000 people worshipping in this compound over every weekend!
They sponsor children's and youth groups as well as adult ministries.
Among these is an "advice clinic" where one-on-one
as well as group counseling is offered regarding housing accommodations,
contractual disputes, debt and other money issues, basic health
Dubai is a Muslim country, but with an extremely welcoming attitude
toward other religions. Holy Trinity Church was built on land
donated by the rulers of the UAE. Such has been the success
of the relationship between the Anglican church in Dubai and
the rulers of the UAE that further parish churches have now
opened in Jebel Ali, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Fujairah. On
the same road as Holy Trinity can be found various expat schools
and the St Mary's Catholic Church.
The Revd Dr Ruwan Palapathwala, senior chaplain, was the celebrant.
The Revd Tim Heaney, associate chaplain, preached. There were
a number of other priests in the building, but we didn't catch
The date & time:
Friday, 13 September 2013, 9.30am.
What was the name of the service?
Friday Holy Communion.
How full was the building?
Completely full very few seats left in the house. Perhaps
500 people or so.
Did anyone welcome you
The two priests greeted everyone as they arrived, and members
of the congregation handed out hymnbooks, service sheets and
pew sheets at the door. No one particularly said hello to us
but we had some lovely smiles.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were modern, high-backed, varnished wood perhaps
I would have brought a cushion if I had known that the service
was going to be two hours long, but the service was actually
so engaging that I didn't notice any discomfort. As regards
overall comfort, I should perhaps mention that it was 37°C
in the shade on the morning we visited, so we were delighted
to find that the church is air-conditioned!
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Extremely jolly lots of people greeting each other. Friday
is the start of the weekend in Dubai, so they were all feeling
happy and looking forward to their weekends. We were very happy
sitting there and drinking it all in.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and
the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you."
What books did the congregation use during the
Each person was given a copy of the Bible, a copy of Complete
Anglican Hymns, a sheet with the words to two of the worship
songs, a pew leaflet, and a service leaflet.
What musical instruments
Keyboard, two guitarists and a violinist there may have
been more but that's what I could see. There was a large choir
of enthusiastic singers leading us in the hymns.
Did anything distract
There was a particularly beautiful baby in the pew behind us
whom I could have ogled for longer, but when she started to
make some noise, her dad took her off into a room at the right
hand side of the church. Not overly distracting, though.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
We experienced a contemporary service, using pretty much the
same liturgy that we use at our own church at home, but with
rather more of the service sung. Some of it was completely new
to us, but easy to join in with. The hymns were also contemporary:
Graham Kendrick's and Stuart Townend's works being especially
prominent. But the last hymn was that old favourite "How
Great Thou Art", and we nearly raised the roof!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Father Tim preached with enthusiasm and clarity. He
bounced up and down slightly whilst preaching and cracked a
few jokes. He was easy to listen to.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
He talked about the day's readings (Exodus 32:7-17 Moses
asks God to avert his anger; 1 Timothy 1:12-17 God showed
mercy to Paul, a sinner; and Luke 15:1-10 God rejoices
when the lost are found). God's love is unconditional. We are
all sinners, but God rejoices in us when we are found. God never
gives up, even on the most unworthy. We rejoice that we, too,
have been found by God. We should tell others, not through a
sense of duty, but through joy that he never gave up on us.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
What impressed us was the almost tangible joy around us: it
filled the building. This was deep joy that comes with genuine
worship. Everyone in the congregation was engaging directly
with God but also with fellow worshippers. It was absolutely
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I hope I'm not being picky, but as a keen musician and choir
member, I felt that the music was, whilst really enthusiastic,
perhaps a little under-rehearsed. The congregation invariably
sang to their own tempo. Perhaps they might need a drummer to
keep the timings in hand?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We did hang around for about ten minutes in the courtyard, as
mention had been made of coffee, but no one showed us the way
or talked to us. However, just as I was taking a couple of photos,
Father Ruwan came out and took us into the hall where coffee
was being served. After that, several people came up to us and
How would you describe the after-service
Plastic cups of hot, sweet coffee, biscuits and savoury snacks
brought by members of the congregation. And there was a large
birthday cake for Father Ruwan.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 We were visiting Dubai and are unlikely to be moving
out there any time soon, but it's good to know that we could
be free to practice our faith in the UAE. There are places where
we could be beheaded for being Christian!
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sense of being part of such a strong church very
impressive. A real contrast to the lukewarm expressions of faith
at our little parish church back home in conservative Surrey.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.