The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar has been without a Christian church structure for 1,300 yearsever since Islam took root in the area. That began to change in 2000 when the government gave the Roman Catholic Church permission to build the first Christian building, which is under construction. Soon, believers from other Christian branches will also worship in their own churches, thanks to the country's ruler, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Last spring, the emir offered land to the Anglican, Coptic, and Orthodox churches that meet in the capital, Doha.
Ian Young, archdeacon for the Anglican Church of Cyprus and the Gulf, serves as priest to a congregation of several hundred. He said the congregation has raised a quarter of the church's cost. He expects fundraising abroad will account for the rest.
"The three churches will be located in the same large area on the outskirts of the capital," Young told CT. "This is a real positive step forward."
Young, from Perth, Scotland, has presided since 1991 over the Anglican congregation, which has been meeting in an elementary school on Friday mornings and Sunday evenings. His congregation comprises 26 nationalities. Most come from Asian countries, but many Americansincluding military personnel from U.S. Central Command's forward headquartersalso attend.
Young said the Anglican building will include a church school and an area for social activities. Other Protestant denominations will use the Anglican facility.
No cross or spire will mark the building. Asked about potential terrorist threats, Young said, "Of course, we have to be sensitive to security. But we will do what we can in a sensible way. We don't want to live behind a fortress. We want to be welcoming to ...1
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