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Dubai bucks church decline trend

Two clergy members were welcomed into new ministry positions at Christ Church in Jebal Ali during a service also said to confirm "warm" ties between authorities and the Anglican Church.

Charlotte Lloyd-Evans and Hin Lai Ching were ordained as a deacon and a priest respectively, in the presence of Minister of State for Tolerance, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi.

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Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf Rt Rev Michael Lewis told the Anglican Communion News Service the presence of Sheikha Lubna "is further evidence of, the warm relationship and mutual respect that exists between the authorities in the UAE and the Anglican church."

Church leaders say the growing clergy team at Christ Church reflects expansion of the Church throughout the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

The growth comes as believers in Syria and other parts of the Arab world continue to face extreme persecution for their faith - and church attendance across many parts of the Western world has been in a state of stagnation or decline.

Opened in 2002, Christ Church in Jebel Ali has seen weekly attendance grow from approximately 40 people to more than 200. More than 40 different congregations worshiping in 16 different languages use the site.

A message on its website says: "We are open to new ideas and want to witness to the saving grace of God which we have found through Jesus Christ.

"We want to be part of the fabric of what makes Dubai good, drawing people closer to God and helping them to live well, alive to the Spirit of God."

The double ordination service comes as the construction of a giant new Anglican cathedral in nearby Abu Dhabi enters its final months.

The All Saints Anglican Church will have room for 4,200 worshippers following its completion - expected in December this year.

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