by Andrea Goodell
Iraqi Christians once numbered 2 million. Now, there are 200,000.
“Most have had to leave because they’re persecuted, targeted,” the Rev. Andrew White said.
White, known as “the Vicar of Baghdad,” has led St. George’s Anglican
Church in the heart of Baghdad since 1998 and will be the featured
speaker this weekend at Hope College’s Veritas Forum. The ninth biennial
forum will explore “Courage and Crisis: Embracing a costly
“I’m going to talk about the risks the Christians of Iraq have taken
and how we all as followers of Jesus need to be prepared to take risks,”
White said Thursday in an interview. “In Saddam’s day, it was safe. You
could walk down the street and there were no bombs, but everybody lived
in fear. Saddam was evil.”
Even after the war, violence in Iraq continues.
“Every day there are bombs and rockets — literally all around us,”
White said. “We are very much in a war zone, but we never give up, we
keep going and we manage.”
But why live surrounded by violence for 14 years?
“I had a profound sense that is where I am meant to be,” White said.
He manages the embassy chapel, St. George’s and its 5,500 members, an
attached school and clinic as well as working with the area’s Sunni and
Shia Muslim leaders on reconciliation efforts between the two sects.
In 2010, White helped facilitate the first Sunni-Shia joint Fatwa
against targeting minorities, such as the city’s Christians, in violent
The Veritas Forum began at Harvard University in 1992 as a way to get
students to think about what the school was founded upon: the Veritas,
or truth, of Jesus Christ. Since then, dozens of campuses in the United
States and abroad have emulated the Harvard model and held forums of
“How do we think through courage now so when the crisis hits — and it
will hit in all our lives — we are prepared” said Hope professor Marc
Baer, one of the event’s founders.