Archive for the ‘Canon Andrew White’ Category

Canon Andrew White on All Saints’ Day at St Paul’s Cathedral

November 2, 2015

Canon Andrew White on All Saints’ Day, ie Sunday 1 November 2015, at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Revd Canon Andrew White, President of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East and ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, preaches the sermon at the Sung Eucharist service on All Saints’ Day at St Paul’s (Sunday 1 November 2015).

A very moving sermon from Canon Andrew White.

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Canon Andrew White at St John’s Stoke

August 16, 2015
Andrew White at St John's Stoke

Andrew White at St John’s Stoke

When religion goes wrong, it goes very wrong. But if religion is part of the problem, it must form part of the solution. — Canon Andrew White

St John’s Stoke is about 20 minutes walk from Guildford town centre. An old church with a rather ugly extension.

Canon Andrew White, until recently the Vicar of Baghdad, was introduced by the Rector of St John’s.

Andrew White commenced with a blessing in Aramaic, the language used by Jesus. If it was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for him.

Andrew White then asked how many were Anglicans? Most hands shot up. How many Baptist? A few hands shot up. How many Pentecostal? Very few hands shot up. He then explained, in his church in Jordan, there were no denominations, they were all Followers of the Messiah, for which there was a single Arabic word. But today, he was an Anglican, as the Bishop was present.

Over 1700 of his congregation in Baghdad have been killed. Beyond that he does not know. When Baghdad became unsafe, Christians fled to Minerva from whence they came. When Minerva became unsafe, they fled to Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

In Jordan, he has established a church in an old Catholic Church, a school, a clinic and a hospital.

The church in Baghdad, St George’s, still has a clinic, which treats people of all faiths.

The children are very devout, as are their parents. Having lost everything their faith is all they have left.

Everyone has suffered.

One family, the father was told, convert to Islam, or we kill your children. He sought forgiveness for his conversion.

Another family, it was the five children who were threatened. The children refused. Each was shot in the head and their heads hacked off.

Andrew was in tears when he learnt. The children walked into his office, asked him not to cry, said they had had a dream, they had seen the children in Heaven.

ISIS destroy the Bibles they find. Small electronic Bibles, powered by solar power have been distributed, talking Bibles in English and Arabic.

There is no electricity. Pens have been distributed that also function as a torch.

ISIS has grown out of the failed policies in Iraq. Sunnis have lost position, power and money, they have become marginalised. Bombing is only making a bad situation worse. The only way to defeat ISIS is by military means, boots on the ground.

Ten years ago, Andrew White would have said he had hope for Iraq. Now he has no hope.

Their current work is engaging in the Sex Slave Market. They are buying back the girls being traded as sex slaves. $5000 a girl or more. Not ideal, but the only way to get the girls back.

It is not unusual for Andrew to have dinner with terrorists. You get nowhere without talking. ISIS they are unable to talk to.

Gordon Brown and others attack Jeremy Corbyn for talking to Hamas. Andrew White talks to the founder of Hamas and counts him as a friend. Not only talks to, but has got him to talk to a chief Rabbi and engage in peace talks. He has also got chief rabbis in Israel to talk to Ayatollahs in Iraq.

Without talking, we make no progress.

Present the Bishop of Guildford who closed the meeting with a prayer.

The Bishop was a fellow student with Andrew. One lecturer, ripped up an essay in front of Andrew, telling him he could not write.

After the meeting, there were books by Andrew, which he happily signed.

Andrew White with Bishop of Guildford and Archdeacon

Andrew White with Bishop of Guildford and Archdeacon

Canon Andrew White is founder and president of Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME).

FRRME is pro-Arab, pro-Jew, brings relief and reconciliation to the broken parts of the Middle East.

He is also chairs Iraq’s High Council of Religious Leaders.

Launched in September, the Jerusalem International School of Reconciliation, or JISR (meaning “Bridge” in Arabic). JISR is the first project of its kind and will provide a platform for key religious leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths to come together and introduce the power of reconciliation to an international audience.

Christmas greetings from Canon Andrew White

December 25, 2014

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. — Isaiah 62:1, King James Bible

Canon Andrew White bringing Christmas greetings from Jerusalem.

Andrew White is no longer in Iraq, where he was known as The Vicar of Baghdad, as no longer safe, but the peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East continues.

Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: “Child I baptised cut in half by ISIS”

August 10, 2014

Warning: This is pretty horrific to read.

Andrew White at St George's

Canon Andrew White at St George’s

The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. Canon White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said Canon White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

The Islamic State group captured Qaraqosh overnight Wednesday/Thursday after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

The boy’s family, along with many other townspeople, have now fled to Irbil. However, news reports suggest this may be the Islamic State’s next destination.

Anglicans at the forefront of relief

The violent takeover of parts of Iraq by the Islamic State is threatening to bring about what the UN has said would be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the beleaguered nation.

Canon Andrew White said that Anglicans there have been working hard to provide a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the north, as well as the many other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.

“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation and there’s no-one else,” he said adding that the church is supplying much-needed food, water, accommodation and other relief items thanks to financial contributions from supporters overseas. The church’s activities are led by a Muslim, Dr Sarah Ahmed.

“We need two things: prayer and money. With those two we can do something. Without those we can do nothing.”

Those wanting to donate can do so at http://frrme.org/. As regards prayer, Canon White said, “I have three ‘P’s that I always mention which is for Protection, Provision and Perseverance. We need protection, we need to provide for those people and we need to keep going.”

It’s clear from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that members of the Anglican Communion right across the world are praying for this situation. Many have also indicated their support for persecuted Christians in Iraq by changing their social media avatars to the Arabic symbol for ‘N’ denoting Nazarene which ISIS has been using to identify Christian homes.

Leaders speak out

In recent days, Anglican leaders from countries including Egypt, Wales, Brazil and South Africa have all expressed their dismay at the situation unfolding in Iraq.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued the following statement today on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.

“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.

“The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.

“With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.”

Other Christian leaders have also spoken up about the situation in Iraq including Roman Catholics, who, in England and Wales, have designated Sunday, 9 August, as a Day of Prayer for Christians in Iraq. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch yesterday wrote to the UN, following an emergency meeting of Patriarchs, calling on the UN Security Council to “fulfil their responsibilities in stopping this genocide”.

Notes

1. The brutal, extremist group, which claims to have fighters from across the world, announced the creation of a “caliphate” – an Islamic state – across its claimed territory in Iraq and Syria a month ago. Learn more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28116033

2. Baghdad is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf http://www.cypgulf.org which is part of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, a Member Church of the Anglican Communion.

Originally published by Anglican Communion News Service.

A common cry of Christians not only in Iraq, but across the Middle East, is why has the West forgotten us. That cry could be particularly aimed at churches.

The last few days, the atrocities committed by ISIS, appears to have woken the world up. That documented by Canon Andrew White merely the tip of a very horrific nightmare.

I was shocked when I saw the Kurds withdraw, as they are the only ways capable of taking on ISIS.

At least US, UK, and France had finally decided to act, with both military action against ISIS and humanitarian aid to those most in need.

The Kurds urgently need heavy weapons, ammunition.

The West should have intervened after the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was defeated, but the West allowed him to regain control.

With the second Gulf War, the West destabilised the country.

Al Maliki is a disaster as Prime Minister and must be removed.

The atrocities being committed by Israel in Gaza, has led directly to support for ISIS. ISIS has already mounted incursion into Lebanon.

If Israel defeats Hamas, into that void will step ISIS.

In London, Islamist supporters of ISIS, now control a London estate, with the ISIS flag flying over the entrance. Islamists from UK and France are fighting with ISIS. Now UK and France have mounted military attacks on ISIS, we can expect those Islamists if they return, to carry out terrorist attacks in UK and France.

It is wrong, as the media does, to refer to ISIS as a terrorist organisation. They are an insurgency that carries out terrorist atrocities.

Aid workers at risk

July 1, 2014

Aid workers in conflict zones are at risk of kidnap, of being killed. Now they face a further risk, prosecution for aiding terrorists.

And it is not only aid workers. We have seen journalists targeted in Egypt for talking to the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is contrary to International Law to deny medical treatment to an enemy combatant. Aid organisations face prosecution if they do.

Hamas is deemed a terrorist organisation because Israel deem them to be. This has forced most aid agencies to pull out of Gaza.

A school in Gaza, is providing music, is teaching no-violent resistance. Lack of funding means they will be probably be forced to close.

ISIS now controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. Canon Andrew White runs St George’s Church in Baghdad. They run a clinic, provide food, education. They do not discriminate. Canon Andrew White is a peace negotiator. Does this mean he cannot talk to ISIS or the Sunnis linked to ISIS?

Banks act as a conduit for money for aid organisations. Fearing prosecution for money laundering, they are now refusing to transfer money.

Canon Andrew White at Alton Maltings

June 20, 2014
Andrew White Alton book signing

Andrew White Alton book signing

I never knew Alton had a Maltings. Signposting needed from the town centre.

An excellent job done on the interior of the building. Strangely, you enter at rafter level. A large meeting hall (ideal for concerts) and a cafe. I did not explore the lower levels, but was told contained meeting rooms.

Tea was served in paper cups. Not good for the environment. The coffee I was told was single sourced.

Following a blessing in Aramaic, Canon Andrew White started by giving the background of how he came to be in Iraq.

At age ten, he was asked by his teacher, what would he like to be.

An anaesthetist and a priest.

You cannot be both, and you are a Pentecostalist, and they do not have priests.

Andrew was an anaesthetist at St Thomas in London, where he headed the cardiac arrest unit, then gave it up to be a priest.

Christian theology he did not find very interesting,and changed to oriental studies, part of which included studying in Israel at an Ultra-Orthodox University.

He became a curate, then a priest, and was then sent to Coventry, to be part of the peace and reconciliation unit. It had until then focussed on Europe. With his background in the Middle East, it changed focus to Middle East.

He was sent to Iraq, to St George’s Church, an Anglican Church that was derelict.

At first he was not wanted, you are bombing us. No, it is not I who is bombing you.

He had a minder. One day, the minder told him he was invited to dinner. He was to be guest of the two sons of Saddam Hussein. He at first decided to decline the invitation, but his minder pleaded with him to say yes, else he and his family would be executed.

Originally, St George served the diplomats, the military, but when it proved too dangerous, the Iraqis.

First week one hundred, second week two hundred, third week, three hundred, fourth week four hundred. Not bad growth rate, one hundred a week. Eventually six and a half thousand.

More than just a church. A food distribution centre, a school, a clinic.

Several types of service: wacky for the children, Anglican for the Embassy, very formal Catholic for the Iraqis.

The service at St George’s is in Aramaic

Iraq had a very good education system, Iraqis were well educated. It has now collapsed, those with education and the means, have fled the country, leaving behind the poor and uneducated.

More than looking after the church, also involved in peace and reconciliation.

Prior to 2003, there was not a problem of sectarian violence. One was an Iraqi. Now one is a Sunni or a Shia. Under Saddam Hussein, Sunni minority ran the country, now it is a Shia majority.

ISIS aka ISIL is an insurgency and a terrorist organisation. It is well funded, paymasters are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The country has de-facto broken into three.

In the last year, over 1200 of the congregation of St George has been killed. In the last two weeks, 1000 have been killed.

People fled Baghdad as deemed not safe, back to their homeland, back to Mosul. Minerva is a Christian area. It is this area that has been overrun by ISIS.

Churches need to take much more account of what is happening in the Middle East.

Next week, Andrew returns to Iraq, to begin reconciliation talks with Sunni leaders.

Running the church, its various programmes, reconciliation, all costs money. It is only made possible by the generosity of people in the UK. If every church, held but one collection for the work that is being done, it would make a huge difference.

Sales of books went very well.

The meeting had been publicised in other churches. Farnham Parish Church had a poster in the porch. More though needs to be done communicating with the wider community. The press invited.

The dire situation in Iraq will only improve if the government changes, and is inclusive of all Iraqis, including the Christians, who are the minority of the minority.

The talk was filmed, and it is hoped once edited, to have uploaded to the net possibly as early as Sunday. It will be added here once available.

Andrew White is author of several books, including Vicar of Baghdad and Faith under Fire.

Andrew White is recipient of the Wilberforce Award.

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.