Construction is due to start early in 2006 on a $7 million US Anglican church centre in the State of Qatar, the first purpose-built church construction in the Middle Eastern state since the coming of Islam.
“Qatar is an extremely important country in the Middle East and building this centre sends an unmistakable message about dialogue and understanding between Christians and Muslims,” said the Nicosia-based Anglican bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf, Clive Handford.
“This centre will serve people of many nationalities and backgrounds who live and work in Qatar,” Bishop Handford noted. “For many of them it will be a home from home. But we hope that it will also serve the wider community in the region.”
The church centre, designed by London-based architect Tom Hornsby, is being built on land provided by the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. It will include a church to be known as the Church of the Epiphany as well as temporary accommodation, conference facilities and a cafe.
One quarter of the cost has already been raised. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, launched an appeal last October for the remainder of the funds needed.