a priest's musings on the journey

Monday, April 30, 2007

Perspectives: A Letter from the Vicar of St George's Anglican Church Baghdad

Monday, April 23 2007
St. George's Day

A Report from Canon Andrew White

Because he lives we can face tomorrow...

Happy St George's Day!

Dear Friends,

Today is St George's Day. The Patron Saint of England and the Patronal Festival of our church in Baghdad. St George was a man of great faith and character, who rebelled against Diocletian, the cruelest persecutor of Christians at that time. When he appeared before Diocletian, he bravely denounced the Emperor for his unnecessary cruelty and injustice, stirred the populace with his powerful rhetoric against the Imperial Decree to persecute Christians. As a result the Emperor consigned St George to prison with instructions that he be tortured until he denied his faith in Christ. St George, having defended his faith, was beheaded at Nicomedia near Lyddia in Palestine on the 23rd of April in the year 303 AD.

Children at St. George's
I have said it many times before but St George's Baghdad is a truly exceptional Church like I have never
experienced before, and it truly lives up to the character of its patron saint. The relationship I have with our many members is indeed one of love. Our lay leaders are wonderful as are our members, and our children are quite exceptional. We have a little routine when I arrive with my body guards; I enter the church to cheering and clapping and I say I can't start the service until my children are there. They then bring them in from Sunday school and we start with the children leading worship.

The worship is always exceptional. Here the only release from the pain of life in Baghdad is to worship the living G-d. We hear stories that Christians are too scared to go to church any more but our people still come and yes, for them it is still dangerous but they come in their masses. Often hungry, always frightened, often despairing but still with hope in Jesus.

St. George's Church
I attach a picture of our church surrounded by concrete barricades and razor wire. It is undoubtedly the most protected church in the world.Known as the English Church it is the only coalition-linked church in
Iraq. G-d is there; in his power we know that they are there for a purpose and that will be fulfilled in G-d's own time.

The cost of running the church is immense not just because of security but because we have to meet the humanitarian needs of the people. Yet at a recent church council meeting the church was adamant that it
wanted to tithe it's money to the Diocese. The Diocese has asked nothing of the Church and only gives to it, yet in Arab culture when somebody offers you something you have to take it. So our church with
nothing will be giving back to the Diocese it's monthly tithe. It is a real story of the widow's mite.

The other day at Church I told them about a little girl called Megan from Dorchester Abbey. She wanted to help our Church in Iraq so she organised a sale at her Church and raised over £1200. The people
cheered and clapped and were so excited to hear that a little girl in England cared about them.

If any of you would like to give to St George's this St George's day your help would be so appreciated.

Grace, Peace and Blessings,


Canon Andrew White is the Rector (pastor for my non-Anglican friends) of St George's Anglican Church, the only surviving Anglican Church in Baghdad. He is also the CEO of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East.

Since the war began, all of Father White's staff have been killed, and many of his parishioners live in danger for living as Christians- since it is seen as a Western Religion. You can read more about the dangers Iraqi Christians face here.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 5:05 PM


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