He’s known as the Vicar of Baghdad, but Anglican minister Canon Andrew White had to leave the city, the second largest in the Arab world, as Christians in Iraq came under increasing threat.
The minister was directly ordered to leave the Iraqi capital by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Now Canon White, a father-of-two, who is also coping with multiple sclerosis, is on a worldwide fund-raising mission, which brings him to the Province next week.
Rev Keith Marshall, curate at St Mark’s Portadown, said that he was delighted that his church would be “hosting this wonderful man” next Friday.
“We really hope that St Mark’s will be bursting at the seams, to hear Canon White’s ministry and help him fund-raise,” he said.
“He is mainly concerned with the plight of displaced Christian families in refugee camps, within Iraq and Jordan. These families are only suffering because of their faith in Christ, not because of any kind of natural disaster, like floods or earthquakes.”
And Rev Marshall was keen to emphasise to the News Letter thatFriday week’s session is open to all.
“A non-denominational Christian business men’s organisation was having difficulty in getting a large venue, so I told them that we had a 900-1,000 seater church, here, right in the centre of Portadown, that would be proud to host Canon White.”
Rev Marshall added: “It was a no-brainer for us and it is very, very important to say that it is open to all-comers.”
The Co Armagh public fundraising meeting is hosted by St Mark’s, in conjunction with the Full Gospel Business Men’s fellowship. Clergy and church leaders will meet with Canon White briefly before the service, followed by a public session from 2-4pm.
Canon White is a world-wide renowned figure, due to the extensive persecution and harrowing trials which Christians in Iraq and Syria have been undergoing. He had to leave Iraq last December, due to the level of personal danger he was in. Before that, he was the only Anglican cleric there.
Whilst he was in Baghdad, letters were delivered to Christians including many of his 4,000 congregants, from an extremist group calling itself the Secret Islamic Army, which warned occupants to leave their homes, or they and their families would be killed.
In his work as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy to the Middle East, Canon White worked to bring together leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.
He will be at Carryduff Elim church next Wednesday, April 15 at 7.30pm for a question and answer service; Enniskillen cathedral next Thursday at 7.30pm for a service with Bishop of Clogher John McDowell, and is at St. Mark’s in Portadown next Friday at 2pm.