The History of Saar Fellowship

Our history goes all the way back to 1940, when Awali Church was built by Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) to cater for the needs of its rapidly-growing expatriate community.  Early worshippers included Roman Catholics who quickly obtained the services of a Priest, and Protestants who were essentially interdenominational in character and who called themselves the Awali Interdenominational Church.  The only Protestant clergy in Bahrain at that time were attached to the American Mission in Manama, and the Mission agreed to lead services in Awali once per month - the other services being led by visiting and lay preachers.

 

 

 Awali Church - Picture from St. Christopher's Cathedral

 

In 1951 a full-time Anglican Minister came to Bahrain to cater for the needs of growing populations in Manama and Awali, and in 1958 the Awali Anglican Church was formed.

 

By 1964 there was a weekly attendance of around 60 people, a growing Sunday School and a Women's Bible Study group in Awali. 

 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the National Evangelical Church's English Language Congregation Pastor would provide some coverage for Awali and lead the Friday service. 

 

National Evangelical Church, Easter Sunrise Service 2019 - Picture from NEC

 

In 1997, following a year without a pastor, Rev. Dick Westra took the helm at the NEC and, with it, the pastoral responsibilities for Awali. Under his guidance, the church took the vital step to form an Eldership for the first time. With the consistent growth in the congregation, from around 70 in 1996 to approximately 150 in 2000, it also became apparent that Awali Church needed its own dedicated Pastor. The arrival of Graeme Dunkley in the summer of 2001 to fulfil this role was an important moment for the church - and our continuing growth reflects the wisdom of this decision.

 

In 2008 we outgrew the facility in Awali and moved the Friday worship service to St. Christopher's School in Saar, where we still meet today. The name was changed at the same time to Saar Fellowship to reflect this move.

 

In 2012 Pastor Denny Barger took over from Graeme, and after six and a half years relocated to his native New Jersey to focus on different ministry opportunities.

 

Pastor James Travis, who had been serving as Assistant Pastor to Denny, took over as Pastor in 2018. 

 

We look forward to seeing God work in our church family in the future as He so evidently has done in our past!