There are nearly 20,000 ordained ministers in the Church of England; in Iraq there is just one.
That one Anglican vicar is Rev Faez Jirjees, who, aged 53, is the parish priest at St George’s Church in Baghdad where Canon Andrew White used to work.
Christians make up about one per cent of the population in Iraq but many of them fled when Islamic State (IS) were at their most brutal.
Despite being bombed several times, St George’s Church in the capital has, for a long time, bucked the trend by being a hub for interfaith relations, providing healthcare to Christians, as well as Shia and Sunni Muslims through its clinic, dentist’s, pharmacy and laboratories.
The church also hosts a nursery, primary school and a ‘hope centre’ that helps train young people with vocational skills for jobs.
Rev Jirjees’ parents dedicated him to become a priest as a child and he served in the Anglican church close to his house as a boy.
He explained that part of his calling to ministry was meeting Rt Rev Michael Lewis, Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf several times, who he found extremely kind towards others.
However, being a church leader was something he forgot about for a few decades.
“I did the normal college and education and I started working and got married and I forgot about being a priest but I went back to this field when I was 40 years old.”
On a trip to the UK, Rev Jirjees, the first…
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