One Voice were pleased to host a day with Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ on February 6th 2012.
Canon Andrew White has an extraordinary ministry of reconciliation and conflict mediation in the Middle East. Having worked for many years in Israel and Palestine, including negotiating the end of the Bethlehem siege in 2002, Canon White now works almost exclusively in Iraq, earning him the nickname ‘the Vicar of Baghdad’.
In Iraq, White lives in Baghdad and serves as the vicar of St George’s Church just outside the Green Zone. He formerly lived in the Green Zone. His church is the only remaining Anglican church in Iraq. His people (the congregation of St George’s) refer to him as their “Aboona”(Father). Here, he has continued the reconciliation that he promoted during his time as Director of International Ministry at Coventry Cathedral.
His main aim has been to try to maintain communication between Shia and Sunni leaders, and to “gain trust of key He is no stranger to danger, having been “hijacked, kidnapped, locked up in rooms with bits of finger and toe and things.”
White was aware of the fear that the Iraqi people had of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and supported the invasion of Iraq, but not the aftermath.
White’s lay pastor was kidnapped in April 2007; however, he managed to raise the $40,000 ransom necessary to secure the pastor’s release and soon returned to Iraq where he stays most of the time.
Many of his staff have been kidnapped or killed, with up to 11 killings of staff in a single year. Andrew told us that up to the present moment 273 of his 4000 congregation have been killed.
St George’s church is a centre for medicine, education and every sort of support as well as being a centre for the gospel. He told us that the congregation regularly see healings, miracles and resurrections.
When introduced the congregation had just been given instructions what to do in case of fire; he explained that ‘back home’ they are given instructions what to do in case of bombing or shelling.
His presentation included a conversation with one of his staff in Baghdad over the telephone. He also told us that he had become an Anglican because one of his parents was a strict Baptist and the other a Pentecostal and the Church of England seemed the only way forward!