Christians in Qatar
In a region where tensions, animosity and outright violence often abound between different communities and also different faiths (let alone between communities and the 'state' itself), Qatar has been one of those encouraging and forward-looking stories of relative conviviality, learn-as-you-go openness and consequential growth.
I have the honour of calling the Rev Fr Bill Schwartz, the Anglican priest in Doha, a long-time and close friend. As such, I would like to share two links - one that takes you to an article (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_128330_ENG_HTM.htm), and another to a video clip on a multi-media page (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/80056_ENG_HTM.htm) - about his ministry and achievements on behalf of a hugely eclectic Christian community in Qatar.
This is definitely what you could call an 'overlooked story' in media terms, and in relation to the complex entanglements that inevtably dominate policy analysis. But such committed work on the ground shows how things could be, with dedication and goodwill.
The Christian community is growing in Qatar. I have not only seen it with my own eyes recently but have also prayed in Fr Bill's temporary church, as I have also done in the now-complete and wonderful Catholic church nearby, within Church City. But this initiative - like many others across the region - still needs support: prayerfully, ecumenically and also financially.
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK) and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net
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