Posts Tagged ‘Andrew White’

Canon Andrew White at St Saviour’s

August 19, 2013
book signing

book signing

It is strange, I had been thinking of meeting with Canon Andrew White, and early hours Sunday morning, I found I had a message that he was at St Saviour’s Church in Guildford.

I had not planned on being in Guildford, but a change of plans, afternoon in Guildford, lunch in Guildford, maybe a walk along the River Wey, then wander along to St Saviour’s for the evening service.

Not quite according to plan. I did not get the roast pork I was looking forward to for lunch, nor did I get my walk along the river, but I did experience a black church called The Upper Room meeting in St Nicolas, and had afternoon tea at Glutton & Glee.

I arrived at St Saviour’s more than half an hour early and was told I was first one.

I was not sure I had the correct evening, as no mention on their website, but on arrival I saw a space had been reserved for Andrew White and there was a notice on the church door.

The service started with music. During rehearsal, they were awful, but during the service far better.

We were then told of the situation in Egypt, or rather were were told half truths.

It is good that a church is recognising the plight of Christians in Egypt and the Middle East as too often they feel ignored and the churches in the West do not give a damn, but what we should also recognise is that the Christians in Egypt especially their leadership, are not a reliable witness to events on the ground and will give a partisan view.

We should not forget, that when people occupied Tahrir Square and refused to leave until Mubarak was overthrown, those who supported Mubarak to the bitter end and condemned the brave people in Tahrir Square, were the leaders of the Christian Church in Egypt. Neither should we forget that Muslims and Christian stood shoulder to shoulder in Tahrir Square.

Morsi betrayed the revolution. He tried to Islamise what is a secular country, betrayal of rights for women, installation of cronies to positions of power. In other words, no different to every corrupt government in the Middle East.

20 million Egyptians took to the streets to overthrow Morsi. A lot of rubbish in the West about the democratic overthrow of Morsi. The will of the people was executed. That is democracy. Democracy is not rule by unaccountable elites, the people reduced to election fodder and having no further say.

But, the overthrow of Morsi, has been hijacked by a military junta.

Attention was drawn to a letter from Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis. This proved to be little more than a propaganda sheet for the brutal military junta, demonisation of the Muslim Brotherhood.

St Saviour’s need to be very careful that they are not being used as unwitting tools of the military junta.

Morsi supporters, and it is not only the Muslim Brotherhood, have every right to peaceful protest. The response of the junta, to massacre in cold blood several hundred peaceful protesters.

Yes, there has been attacks on Christians, on churches, but these attacks, pre-date the overthrow of Morsi, they are nothing new.

The slaughter of innocent protesters will have only one consequence, it will open the void for Islamic terrorists to step into.

We must hope, that the crimes against humanity being committed by the military junta, are documented and they are brought to justice, in the meantime, all Egyptians must unite to overthrow the junta, otherwise Egypt will descend into bloody civil war.

Coverage of Tahrir Square by mainstream media was poor. Post-overthrow of Morsi much better.

For good coverage turn to Democracy Now, Russia Today and Al Jazeera. On twitter follow Sharif Kouddous.

The pastor leading the service, invited Andrew White to join him, and they discussed what had led Andrew White to where he is today, leading a church in Iraq.

Andrew explained his interest in the Middle East had started when he studied at an ultra-Orthodox university in Israel.

Andrew White started from when he was a curate, then a vicar, and how he had then been asked to head the peace and reconciliation unit at Coventry Cathedral.

Formed out of the ashes of the bombed Coventry Cathedral, the focus had been Europe. Andrew refocused on the Middle East. He had acted as envoy for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, engaging in dialogue with Israelis and Palestinians and encouraging them to talk to each other.

Diagnosed with MS, he was asked to step down from what he was doing. His response was to take over the running of St George’s in Baghdad. His assistant was Justin Welby, now Archbishop of Canterbury.

The church costs over $175,000 a month to run. They have no money, no reserves. They rely entirely on donations, on people inviting Andrew to talk at their church, on buying his books.

The money given on Sunday, and during the week, will all go to FRRME (of which Andrew White is the Founding President).

The church has a school, a medical clinic, feeding programmes, all paid for through donations. All the programmes the church runs are free to all.

Beside the work at the church, Andrew acts as Embassy Chaplain, works on peace and reconciliation between the various factions, advises on security.

FRRME was formed to support the work in Iraq and the Middle East.

Following the reading of the lesson, Andrew White was asked to give the sermon.

Andrew started by blessing the congregation in Ameraic, the language used by Jesus, and the language still used in the Iraqi Church.

His theme was Matthew 24:6-8

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

For people of Guildford, words in the Bible, for people of Iraq, daily occurrence.

There are rumours of war, there is war, there is bombing, there is killing.

Of the church over 1,250 have been killed.

When people have lost everything they have everything.

The church in Iraq is filled with joy.

To love your friends is easy. We have to learn to love those who are our enemies.

Andrew was once kidnapped. When he looked around, he saw severed fingers and toes.

He has to deal with his friends, who bomb and kill.

When dealing with one of he founders of Hamas, he invited him to dinner. He convinced him to work with a rabbi. When accused of being a Zionist, the founder of Hamas said no, he was walking the path of peace and reconciliation, a very difficult path to walk.

Often asked: How do you deal with Muslims? Easy we love them, we welcome them. The church is over 6,000 people, of which over 600 are Muslim.

When you love can also be very painful, when you see the people you love killed.

Andrew has three adopted Iraqi children. One, Lina, now also his personal assistant, has recently become engaged.

The service lasted almost two hours, but it seemed much shorter. I have known half hour service seem longer.

Too many people spend their lives griping about their lives and never getting off their backsides. Andrew is the exact opposite, faces danger every day, sees more tragedy in a day than most people would see in their lifetime, and yet, he is full of hope, full of joy, and always willing to take risks.

He said when people shake hands and say take care, no, they should shakes hands and and say take risks.

It is unfortunate the service was not filmed. As much my fault as I did not think to ask. It has at least been recorded, or at least the sermon recorded, and possibly the exchange at the beginning. This will be available on the church website.

Andrew then signed books:

I gave Andrew a copy of Manuscript Found in Accra. He said he enjoyed Aleph. He asked me did Paulo Coelho know the new Pope? I said I did not think so, but at a press conference in Athens, Paulo Coelho had been asked two questions, his thoughts on the Catholic Church and of the new Pope. He said there was much wrong with the Catholic Church and that he had high hopes of the new Pope implementing much needed reform.

I also gave Andrew a letter I have had in possession for many months, which a lady had entrusted me to give to him.

A chat with Andrew.

I came away with several signed copies of his latest book, Father, Forgive, one for me, the others I will have pleasure in giving away.

Next year, Andrew is to be awarded the William Wilberforce Prize.

God moves in mysterious ways

January 28, 2012
Lina, Andrew, vice president and daughter

Lina, Andrew, vice president and daughter

Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer. — Carl Jung

Anything that occurs once can never occur again. But, should it happen twice, it will surely happen a third time. — Paulo Coelho

Well today has been an incredible day spent in the Holy Shia Shrine of Najaf. We had with us the serious Sunni leaders as we attempted to deal with the present sectarian crisis. More on this later.

You will be aware of our present crisis with the need for green zone badges. We need to get into the Green Zone not least for the US Embassy services. Everything we have tried has failed. Yesterday we did a deal with an Ambassador’s Assistant to get us in and out tomorrow. It will take several hours of his time on his day off that will cost us but it is worth it.

Last night I had an email from somebody doing their PhD on Sunni/Shia Reconciliation in Iraq at University in Canada. She desperately wanted to see me as she had read my work and been told about me by her lecturers. I sent her my phone number and she called. She said that she and her father really wanted to see me tomorrow. She said she lived in the Green Zone. I asked her who her father was? It turns out it is the good vice president who has promised to get all our badges for us. What a strange way G-d answers prayer but He always does!!!!!!!!!!!!!

– Canon Andrew White

Since the Americans left leaving as claimed by Barack Obama Iraq as a stable country (must have been his idea of a sick joke), over 200 killed. Yesterday another suicide car bomb.

Passes to to the Green Zone, issued by the Americans, no matter how high the security clearance, became overnight worthless. Hence the problems experienced by Canon Andrew White and others moving freely to and from the Green Zone.

What Canon Andrew White has described is a lovely example of synchronicity!

A theme running throughout the work of Paulo Coelho, is that of coincidence, or what I would call synchronicity.

Omens are another theme, understanding how to understand and follow them, how to achieve your destiny.

Synchronicity is that of meaningful coincidences, coincidences that are so improbable that they cannot be explained by chance alone.

The concept of synchronicity was developed by Carl Jung. Deepak Chopra takes it a stage further and calls synchronicity communication across the transition zone (see How to Know God). In the language of Paulo Coelho, it would be communication with the Soul of the World. Canon Andrew White would see it as a sign from G-d!

I was introduced to Paulo Coelho due to a chance meeting with a lovely Lithuanian girl. We were both sitting outside a pub in Guildford, relaxing by the river. I asked her what she was reading. The Zahir she said, which she recommended I try. A couple of weeks later I was in Brighton. I had a similar conversation, only now the roles were reversed. History repeating itself, a sense of déja vu? [see Synchronicity and Paulo Coelho]

Canon Andrew White is author of Faith Under Fire, President of FRRME, the Anglican priest of St George’s in Baghdad and a Middle East Peacemaker.

He has recently been awarded the highly prestigious First Freedom Award.

A three-day International Peace Conference on Iraq, Light in Darkness, is to be held in Brighton, Thursday 6 September to Saturday 8 September at the City Coast Church. It is hoped to bring young people from Iraq but this will depend upon how generous are donors. Speaker will include Canon Andrew White. For more information and for donations, please contact FRRME.

The conference was due to be held in Bracknell end of July. It coincided with the London 2012 Olympics and extortionate hotel prices. At short notice it has had to be moved to Brighton in September. A much pleasanter place to be and early September is a good time to be in Brighton.

God moves in mysterious ways!

Faith Under Fire has been shortlisted as the Christian Book of 2012. It is open to vote on-line for your favourite book, but somewhat dumb you have to vote for a childrens book too even though you may have no views. Also badly designed website, link does not go direct to voting form.

- Interview with Canon Andrew White in Canada
The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell
Sorry Sir my dear Jesus , we came to you with, black gown
House of Lords debates the plight of Christians in the Middle East

Lunch with Canon Andrew White

December 8, 2011
Andrew White study

Andrew White study

The world only gets better because people risk something to make it better. — Paulo Coelho

Today: don’t beg, don’t ask. But thank God in silence for your life. — Paulo Coelho

A train journey through heavily wooded countryside, alight at a station almost in the middle of nowhere, a driver in a 4×4 waiting to pick me up.

What do you think of the crosses?

Lunch was in Andrew’s study. One wall lined with books. Books on Judaism, Islam, many many Bibles. The other walls were covered with pictures, icons, and crosses. I do not think I have ever seen so many crosses. An amazing collection of crosses, many many different designs. And pride of place on the desk, Aleph which I had given to Andrew a few days ago,

A bit mystical, referring to Aleph by Paulo Coelho.

Whilst we were talking, directions to staff, meetings to be arranged, calls to be taken from Iraq and US.

I came away with a gift from Iraq.

- Canon Andrew White at the Boiler Room
Canon Andrew White at Guildford Baptist Church

Canon Andrew White awarded International First Freedom Award

June 24, 2011
Canon Andrew White - Photo Reuters/Oleg Popov

Canon Andrew White - Photo Reuters/Oleg Popov

To be considered a worthy recipient and to stand alongside such venerable past beneficiaries – me, a priest in downtown Baghdad – is just a wonderful honor. — Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White has been named as this year’s recipient of the prestigious International First Freedom Award for his extraordinary commitment to peace-keeping and religious freedom in Iraq.

The award was announced by the First Freedom Center, an American institute that seeks to advance freedom of religion and conscience.

President of the center Ambassador Randolph Bell said:

“We are proud to name Canon White the winner of the International First Freedom Award. This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the advancement of religious freedom – the freedom of conscience.

“The judging committee unanimously selected him because of all he has done to advance religious freedom; his longstanding and highly effective commitment to this fundamental human right.”

Canon White will be presented with the award in Virginia in January 2012.

- Anglican Priest Given Prestigious Religious Freedom Award
‘Vicar of Baghdad’ Receives Religious Freedom Award

Suffer the Children

December 20, 2010
Suffer the Children - Andrew White

Suffer the Children - Andrew White

One does not have to spend a great deal of time in the presence of Canon Andrew White, aka the Vicar of Baghdad, to learn what drives him: His strength of faith. His love of Iraq and its people. His love of St George’s Church of Mesopotamia. And above all else his love of the children in his life and the love they have for him.

Suffer the Children is an account of the children in his life, told from his and their perspective.

I was at a dinner with Canon Andrew White and picked up four of his books

Iraq: Searching for Hope (2005)
– By The Rivers of Babylon (2008)
The Vicar of Baghdad (2009)
– Suffer the Children (2010)

the profits of which go to FRRME, of which Canon Andre White is president.

Suffer the Children, his latest, was one of those I picked up.

Talking to him before the dinner and listening to what he had to say after dinner, one thing that came across very strongly was his faith and the love of his people, especially his children. There is a special place in his heart for his children.

Suffer the Children looks at the children he knows, starting with his own strange childhood. The children are given their own voice.

We all have a childhood. Canon Andrew White is no exception. He first tells us of his own childhood and growing up. He grew up in a religious household, it was where he acquired his faith and it has never left him. If nothing else an unusual childhood. Learning of anti-Semitics, he dressed as a policeman and went and guarded a local Jewish cemetery. He spend a lot of time with elderly friends, looking after them and handling their chores. On a Sunday he went to three different churches. From an early age he knew he wished to go into medicine and be a priest. He was told he could not do both, but has managed to do both, first studying medicine, then for the priesthood.

A powerful and very moving book.

Signed copy! For my lovely friend Sian. Merry Christmas.

Alexandria Declaration

November 22, 2010
Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God. - Matthew V

Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God. - Matthew V

In the Name of God who is Almighty, Merciful and Compassionate, we, who have gathered as religious leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, pray for true peace in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and declare our commitment to ending the violence and bloodshed.that denies the right to life and dignity

According to our faith traditions, killing innocents in the name of God is a desecration of his Holy Name, and defames religion in the world. The violence in the Holy Land is an evil which must be opposed by all people of good faith. We seek to live together as neighbours, respecting the integrity of each other’s historical and religious inheritance. We call upon all to oppose incitement, hatred and the misrepresentation of the other.

1. The Holy Land is Holy to all three of our faiths. Therefore, followers of the divine religion must respect its sanctity, and bloodshed must not be allowed to pollute it. The sanctity and integrity of the Holy Places must be preserved, and freedom of religious worship must be ensured for all.

2. Palestinians and Israelis must respect the divinely ordained purposes of the Creator by whose grace they live in the same land that is called Holy.

3. We call on the political leaders of both peoples to work for a just, secure and durable solution in the spirit of the words of the Almighty and the Prophets.

4. As a first step now, we call for a religiously sanctioned cease-fire, respected and observed on all sides, and for the implementation of the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations, including the lifting of restrictions and a return to negotiations.

5. We seek to help create an atmosphere where present and future generations will co-exist with mutual respect and trust in the other. We call on all to refrain from incitement and demonization, and to educate our future generations accordingly.

6. As religious leaders, we pledge ourselves to continue a joint quest for a just peace that leads to reconciliation in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, for the common good of all our peoples.

7. We announce the establishment of a permanent joint committee to carry out the recommendations of this declaration, and to engage with our respective political leadership accordingly.

The Alexandria Declaration was a process set in play by Canon Andrew White, aka the Vicar of Baghdad, at the height of the second intifada to bring together all the religious leaders in the Holy Land, or as he calls it the Land of the Holy One. It culminated in a meeting chaired by George Carey (then Archbishop of Canterbury, who described it later in Know the Truth as the most difficult meeting he had ever chaired) and culminated in the signing of an historic agreement renouncing violence in the Middle East. Widely reported by the Middle East media, but virtually ignored in the West. Canon Andrew White describes the background in his excellent book The Vicar of Baghdad.

It is sad, as Canon Andrew White notes, that there are those who wrongly use Scripture to justify what is happening. I have had personal experience of this over the last few days.

For those who seek to demonise Hamas (and less we forget they were democratically elected in Gaza) one of the signatories to the Alexandria Declaration was the late Sheikh Talal Sidr, one of the founders of Hamas.

A year later, the Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation was awarded in the old medieval Coventry Cathedral to Rabbi Michael Melchior, Patriarch Michel Sabbah and Sheikh Talal Sidr. The following day, at a dinner in London before a follow up meeting with Archbishop George Carey, a journalist shouted in Arabic at Sheikh Talal Sidr ‘How can you sit with this evil Zionist?’ The sheikh paused, then picking up the hand of the Rabbi, answered ‘This is my brother and we will walk along the difficult path of reconciliation together until we find peace. When someone else shouted out ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Shekh Talal replied ‘I am pulling up thorns and planting flowers?’

There is still a long way to go. One of the projects established has been the Israeli and Palestinian Institute for Peace, with centres in Gaza, Jerusalem and in the north of Israel at Kafr Kassem where in 1956 Jewish border police shot dead 49 Israeli Arabs including 11 children.

The Alexandria Declaration was signed in Egypt January 2002.

Also see

The Vicar of Baghdad

The First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land

The Alexandria Process

Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White

Can religious leaders play a constructive role?

Palestine is still the Issue

The Vicar of Baghdad

November 11, 2010
Canon Andrew White sat on Saddam Hussein's throne in the Presidential Palace

Canon Andrew White sat on Saddam Hussein's throne in the Presidential Palace

The Vicar of Baghdad – part one (lower resolution)

The Vicar of Baghdad – part two (lower resolution)

The Vicar of Baghdad – part three (lower resolution)

The Vicar of Baghdad – part four (lower resolution)

The Vicar of Baghdad, a documentary by Rageh Omaar and Al Jazeera about Canon Andrew White.

Canon Andrew White is Vicar of St Geoge’s Church in Baghdad and President of FRRME.

Also see

The Vicar of Baghdad

Dinner with Canon Andrew White

The Vicar of Baghdad: Through the valley of the shadow of death

The Vicar of Baghdad drops by for a cuppa

‘I don’t just work with nice people’

Canon Andrew White awarded Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy

The Vicar of Baghdad: Canon Andrew White on his return to Iraq

If I can dodge the bullets in Baghdad, then I’ll certainly never give in to MS

The children of Iraq have names

November 8, 2010

The children of Iraq have names.
They are not the nameless ones.

The children of Iraq have faces.
They are not the faceless ones.

The children of Iraq do not wear Saddam´s face.
They each have their own face.

The children of Iraq have names.
They are not all called Saddam Hussein.

The children of Iraq have hearts.
They are not the heartless ones.

The children of Iraq have dreams.
They are not the dreamless ones.

The children of Iraq have hearts that pound.
They are not meant to be statistics of war.

The children of Iraq have smiles.
They are not the sullen ones.

The children of Iraq have twinkling eyes.
They are quick and lively with their laughter.

The children of Iraq have hopes.
They are not the hopeless ones.

The children of Iraq have fears.
They are not the fearless ones.

The children of Iraq have names.
Their names are not collateral damage.

What do you call the children of Iraq?
Call them Omar, Mohamed, Fahad.

Call them Marwa and Tiba.
Call them by their names.

But never call them statistics of war.
Never call them collateral damage.

– David Krieger

This beautiful poem by David Krieger is reproduced by Canon Andrew White in his book Suffer the Children (2010).

David Krieger is editor of Today Is Not a Good Day for War, a book of poetry.

Canon Andrew White, who I recently had the honour and privilege of meeting, is the Vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad.

Saint George’s Church in Baghdad

November 5, 2010

Saint George’s Church was estabished as an Anglican Church in 1864 for the British. It was known under Saddam Hussein as the English church and for that reason it was periodically closed down.

Canon Andrew White, who I had the honour and privilege of meeting, is the Vicar of Saint George’s Church in Baghdad. He is also the President of FRRME, who provide the support for Saint George’s.

The beautiful music is the church choir.

Also see

History of St. George’s Church

Dinner with Canon Andrew White


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