Malkhaz Songulashvili – The last two days of the year 2012 -1

Dr Taj Hargey & Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili

Archbishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia Malkhaz Songulashvili (right), and Dr Taj Hargey, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, (left) pictured at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Oxfordshire, December 20th 2012. Tomorrow Archbishop Songulashvili will give a Friday prayer sermon at Imam Hargey’s mosque, the first time that a non-Muslim has delivered the Friday sermon in a mosque. (Credit: Susannah Ireland / The Independent)

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Day One: it is raining cats and dogs.  Ala and I have a houseguest, Kyrion, a fellow Georgian from Tbilisi, where he served Patriarch Ilia II as a hypo-deacon for more than 20 years. Now he is an Archimandrite of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.  He is in his early forties. He is a very  amusing and kind character. He is a monk, which means being totally withdrawn from worldly pleasures. Yet his main hobby is shopping…. he dines on coffee, cigarettes and Black Label whisky. He has become part of our family. With him, and a Saudi friend of ours, we attended the other day a Christmas carol service at Christ Church Cathedral. We arrived late. Even though we had tickets, all the places were already taken. I looked around to find places for Ala, Kyrion and our Saudi friend. It was not easy. The service was about to start. With the help of sidesmen I managed to find three places but I could not find a place for myself. There were no more seats available.  I was about to give up when the chief verger appeared in front of me and whispered in my ear:

“The Dean wants you to process with the bishop and clergy, if you do not mind.”

Of course I did not. Now I could have a seat with the clergy! The service of Nine Lessons and Carols was absolutely beautiful. This year the choir sang rather unusual modern carols which added a touch of post-modernity to the service. After the service all four of us were invited to a reception by the Dean and his wife, who have recently visited Georgia and enjoyed the hospitality of a small Baptist Church in the city of Gori. Continue reading “Malkhaz Songulashvili – The last two days of the year 2012 -1”

Archbishop Malkhaz Giving the Friday Sermon (Khutbah) at the Mosque in Oxford

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A unique event took place on Friday 21 December at the Mosque in Oxford, where the Imam, Dr. Taj Hargey, invited my friend the Georgian (Baptist) Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili to present the Friday sermon (khutbah).

Here is the message I have received from the Archbishop:

Dear Friends,

You will be glad to know how did my khutba go at the MECO Mosque in Oxford. Many thanks to all of you for your support. Your prayers, your encouragement and support has meant a lot to me.

The service was an unforgettable experience. I had to make considerable preparations: lerned Arabic alphabet, I studied and memorized all the Friday prayers in Arabic, familiarized myself with some basic principles of Muslim liturgy and theology. In other words the preparation for the khutbah was a fascinating experience. Continue reading “Archbishop Malkhaz Giving the Friday Sermon (Khutbah) at the Mosque in Oxford”