'Vicar of Baghdad' speaks to students at LaGrange College

Priest serves only Anglican church remaining in Iraq

amccallum@ledger- enquirer.comOctober 22, 2009 

LAGRANGE, Ga. — The Rev. Canon Andrew White, known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” shared firsthand lessons of faith and love as means for peace in the Middle East when he visited the Chattahoochee Valley Wednesday.

White, who has lived in Iraq for more than 11 years, is the vicar of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad. His church, located just outside the Green Zone, is the only remaining Anglican Church in Iraq.

The longtime clergyman and author of three books is also president of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Through his work at the foundation and St. George’s, White wants to bring religious factions together and end violence in Iraq.

“The reason we’re trying to make peace with different people is because Jesus’ word is to love your enemies,” he said during a speaking engagement at LaGrange College. “You’ve got to love, love, love and bring about peace.”

He spoke at LaGrange College to approximately 100 people and later in Columbus at First Baptist Church, as part of a week of appearances in Georgia.

White, a native of London and father of two, also serves as the Anglican/Episcopalian/Lutheran chaplain in the Green Zone. He was able to share a candid and rare perspective as someone who has been in the country before the Iraq War began.

“You’ve got to understand so much terrorism is about loss,” he said.

The first thing to understand, White said is what has been lost. He said often people have lost money, property and ultimately power.

Despite the serious subject matter of White’s speech, he joked with the audience. In between jokes, he explained to the audience how he is “pro-American.”

“I have to admit to you one thing, I’m a fan of G.W. Bush,” he said, adding he’s also a fan of the American military because “they gave Iraq back.”

Those attending the lecture took pause when White explained he has multiple sclerosis. He said he has been able to receive stem cell treatments in Iraq, something he cannot do in the United States or Britain.

After sharing various stories and experiences of his time in Iraq, he opened the floor for questions. One person asked White how he manages to work in an environment with such violence.

“One word. Love. Jesus taught us to love our enemies,” White said. “You have to love people you don’t want to love.”

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