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of St George The Martyr, Jerusalem
of St George The Martyr, Jerusalem.
Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Diocese
The cathedral was begun in 1891 and was consecrated in 1898.
It was designed by late 19th/early 20th century architect George
Jeffery, noted for his scholarly studies of Middle Eastern architecture.
Jeffery designed a typically neo-Gothic English collegiate quadrangle
that includes the bishop's residence and the deanery (now a
guesthouse). The interior is typically Gothic but very narrow,
with pointed stone arches, vaulted wooden ceiling, and a communion
table in front of a rood screen.
They have an Arabic speaking congregation as well as a congregation
of British ex-pats. They also attract many visitors from many
different places. They sponsor a women's ministry, youth gatherings,
Bible study and home visits.
The cathedral is located just up the road from the Damascus
Gate and the Garden Tomb, thought by some to be the tomb of
Jesus, close by to a rocky escarpment thought by some to be
Golgotha. (This is in contrast to the claim made by the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre to have been built next to Golgotha and
over Jesus' tomb.) Despite scholarly disagreement over which
site is the genuine thing, the Garden Tomb has throughout the
years been a popular pilgrimage destination, especially among
The Very Revd Hosam E. Naoum, dean of St George's Cathedral
and pastor to the Arabic and English speaking congregations.
He was assisted by two others who were not named.
The date & time:
Sunday, 24 November 2013, 11.00am.
What was the name of the
How full was the building?
There were between 40 and 50 people: two groups of Holy Land
pilgrims from nearby hotels (including ourselves), a handful
of American students, and an embassy bigwig who was also visiting
Jerusalem. There was only a handful of regular parishioners,
although the earlier service was packed!
Did anyone welcome you
No, but as we were in a big group with our own clergy from home,
that was fine. Two somewhat flustered-seeming ladies handed
out hymn books that had only just been collected in from the
Was your pew comfortable?
We sat in old wooden chairs that were a little rickety. However,
beautiful thick kneelers made very comfortable cushions.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Very comfortable, as I was travelling with friends and fellow
parishioners. We smiled and said hello to others as they arrived.
Everyone was pleased to be celebrating the eucharist in Jerusalem.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
A glossy printed service booklet with messages from the bishop
and information about the diocese. It also had all the words
we needed. We also used a hymn book. The service booklet was
for sale at the guesthouse at the end of the service.
What musical instruments
A very loud organ, an opus of the Austrian firm Rieger Orgelbau,
who specialise in building instruments that can withstand huge
temperature and humidity differences. It was being played rather
well by a lady who was very modest when we congratulated her
on her playing before we left.
Did anything distract
The organ was sometimes a little over-loud, and one or two of
our group remarked on it. I personally liked it.
the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was completely familiar to members of our small
Surrey parish: fairly standard Anglican Common Worship, with
sung Gloria and Kyrie.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
8 Dean Naoum was a confident speaker and made plenty
of eye contact with the congregation.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
The dean spoke of conflict resolution, peace and reconciliation
a message we found particularly appropriate, as we
had spent the previous day visiting Bethlehem and seeing first
hand the effect the difficult political situation in Israel
is having on the residents. It was good to hear some wise
words about hopes for peace.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The wonderful organ playing and hearty singing.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
Nothing particularly raised any ire in me it was such
a simple service. There wasn’t anything much to dislike.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
We had no time to hang about, as we were off on another trip
with our coach and guide.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
No tea or coffee, but there was cold juice being served in
the courtyard of the cathedral. We were running late by then,
so we said our good-byes and rushed off.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
7 I would like to have seen more regular congregants
and I wondered how many there were.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
I definitely felt glad to be a Christian! In this holiest
of cities, to be given the opportunity to attend my own kind
of worship with a group of firm friends, to be able to listen
fully and attentively without being distracted (I am normally
in the choir and sometimes get caught up in thinking too much
about the next piece of music rather than giving my full attention
to the liturgy) was a real treat.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The excitement of attending church in Jerusalem.
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