Archbishop Explores Parish Ministry in Amman as Jordan Visit Concludes
While clergy from the United Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough were arriving home from Jordan where they participated in a joint retreat with clergy of our partner Diocese of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michael Jackson continued to visit diocesan institutions and parishes in the country. Here he reflects on the final day of his visit, Sunday March 5.
I was welcomed at St Paul’s Church, Ashrafia, East Amman by the rector The Reverend George Copty for the morning service. I celebrated and preached () and the service was followed by the rector and me bringing Holy Communion to residents of a community for older persons in the church grounds, directly underneath the church. This is a community I have visited many times. I have always been enriched by their zest for life. Today was no exception. There was a very comprehensive parish breakfast for the start of Lent with strictly vegetarian food as is the custom in the diocese and its parishes.
During the morning, the wide range of the work in the parish and community came to light and I had the opportunity to visit parishioners in their homes and to enjoy coffee with them as well as meeting them in their workplaces in the town. The parish has moved in the direction of being a community church through its sustained Anglican understanding of parish as people and place. The parish runs The Olive Tree Project which comprises art for children and women, art for older people, music and English for children and adults. It is under the baton of an Iraqi Muslim who has tremendous respect for St Paul’s. There are many other initiatives one of which is the redistribution of in–date medicines through the parish. People give medicines; they are assessed, again by an Iraqi Muslim pharmacist, for being in–date or otherwise; they are then re–distributed on the basis of proven and known medical need and appropriateness. In addition there is a Medical Day on a Saturday where people, free of charge to them, have medical assessments and blood tests. There are many aspects of St Paul’s Ashrafia to which individuals, parishes and indeed the whole diocese of Dublin and Glendalough can contribute if any of us is willing to undertake the risk of responding to God’s call to minister and to serve in this way. There is also an opportunity for our parishes and schools to learn with St Paul’s about water harvesting.
In the evening I celebrated Holy Communion in The Church of The Redeemer, Central Amman. The rector is The Reverend Faeq Hadad. (you can read the sermon here). His wife showed me around the area which includes The Bishop’s School for Boys along with many buildings of historical architectural importance. At the morning service, the rector had already blessed lorries laden with water, blankets, clothes (especially jackets) and food going to new Syrian Refugee Camps in Jordan. This was a chilling reminder that the practical work of God continues unabated every day of the week as does human need and human response. Warfare and enforced flight from home are a daily reality of life in the Middle East. With wonderful generosity the Hadad family invited me to join them for dinner to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of their youngest daughter Grace – a delightful way to conclude the evening.