Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

New Dubai vicar brings taste of Tennessee to Christmas service

Reverend Jim Young leads his first Christmas Day service at Christ Church in Jebel Ali

It was an extra-special Christmas Day for incoming vicar Reverend Jim Young, who led his first family communion service in the UAE at Christ Church in Jebel Ali.

Only four months into his post, Rev Young is still getting to grips with the multinational congregation he welcomes each week into his church.

The Christmas Day service attracted worshippers from all over Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

“Moving to Dubai has been an incredible opportunity to discover new ways of celebrating Christmas,” he said.

There are several different traditions in Dubai I am still trying to fully understand. The US has a lot of immigrants, but nothing like in the UAE

Reverend Jim Young, Christ Church Jebel Ali

“Everything is still very new, so I am still making adjustments. We have done a more traditionally British Christingle service, and that was also my first. There are several different traditions in Dubai I am still trying to fully understand.

“The US has a lot of immigrants but nothing like in the UAE, so it has been a wonderful experience meeting people from such diverse backgrounds.”

The Anglican church was packed with families, with excited children filling the building with laughter and fun.

The service opened with traditional festive hymns O Come All Ye Faithful, Angels We Have Heard on High and We Three Kings.

A reading followed from the book of Isaiah before Christians joined in the Eucharist and the giving of communion.

Members of the Christ Church in Jebel Ali take communion on Christmas Day. Pawan Singh / The National
Members of the Christ Church in Jebel Ali take communion on Christmas Day. Pawan Singh / The National

Rev Young arrived in Dubai with his wife and has three adult sons who remained in the United States.

Previous postings have included Tennessee, where he was raised; Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, California, Connecticut and Oregon. Dubai is his first posting abroad.

“It is a lot of fun here,” Rev Young said.

“Growing up in Tennessee, we had three spices, salt, pepper and ketchup.

“Moving to Louisiana with all the Cajun, French and Spanish culture, there were so many more, and I see Dubai as similar to that.

“There is an incredible mixture of people and nationalities here, and bringing them together makes us stronger, not weaker.”

Nigerian Danielle Lake was married at Christ Church nine years ago and regularly attends Sunday services at the church.

Mrs Lake was attending the Christmas Day service with her husband Chris, and children Kara and Ella.

“It is such as nice crowd on Sundays, but Christmas is always a nice time to see everyone – there are usually about 200 people here,” she said.

“In Nigeria, Christmas has more religious significance than here in the UAE and UK, where it is more of a celebration with the turkey and presents.

“For me it is more about the joy of bringing family together.

“In Nigeria, there is loud music and drums, with everyone wearing flamboyant dresses and hats. Here, it is more of a solemn time with the hymns and organ playing.”

Rev Jim Young leads his first  family communion service in the UAE since moving to Dubai four months ago. Pawan Singh / The National 
Rev Jim Young leads his first  family communion service in the UAE since moving to Dubai four months ago. Pawan Singh / The National 

Choristers ended the service with a resounding rendition of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, accompanied by a performance by organist Paul Griffiths, who played when Pope Francis led Mass in Abu Dhabi in February.

He ended the service with a solo performance of Toccata from symphony number five.

“The last time I played this piece of music to an audience was during the papal visit so it brought back some very good memories for me,” he said.

Updated: December 25, 2019 04:42 PM

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