We had what seemed like a classroom of children at the wedding rehearsal tonight. It was great fun, and the fastest rehearsal I have ever done. I just need to get the sermon sorted out for tomorrow now.
Anglican leadership in Iraq feared dead
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, and Jenny Booth
The entire lay leadership team of the main Anglican church in Iraq is presumed to have been killed after they were attacked while returning from a conference in Jordan.
The team of five Iraqi-born Anglicans including the lay pastor and his deputy, should have returned two weeks ago from the conference.
Canon Andrew White, of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East, who is the clergyman in charge of the church, said: "Anglican leaders in Baghdad have been missing for two weeks and they are presumed dead."
Those missing include Maher Dakel, the lay pastor; his wife, Mona, who leads the women's section of the church; their son Yeheya; the church's pianist and music director, Firas Raad; the deputy lay pastor; and their driver, whose name has not been disclosed.
Canon White last heard news of the five on September 13, when he was told that they had been attacked the day before while returning from Jordan on the notoriously dangerous road between Ramadi and Fallujah.
"It is the most dangerous area in Iraq," he said. "One of two things must have happened. They either got kidnapped or they died. But we have had no ransom demand or anything."
He said other members of the church had been convinced they had been taken to hospital by the Americans, which was one reason they had not released the news for so long. But repeated checks with the US forces and the Pentagon had drawn a blank.
The loss brings to 12 the number of Iraqis that Canon White has lost in his reconciliation work in Iraq, although these are the first connected to the church. He did not think they were targeted because they were Anglicans.
"The fact is that attacks on people on that road happen all the time, particularly on people who appear to be richer or middle class."
Canon White, until recently the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Middle East, and who helped reopen St George's in Baghdad after the Iraqi war in 2003, said: "We are all devastated. This is the very core of our Anglican Church in Iraq. With such a large congregation of about 800 strong, losing key leadership will be devastating."
Though none of the congregation is traditionally Anglican, the church now has one of the largest congregations in Baghdad.
The Right Rev Colin Bennetts, Bishop of Coventry, said: "I find this news particularly sad and poignant. When we first visited Iraq in 1999 it was my privilege to preach at the re-opening of St George’s Church in the centre of Baghdad. We all saw this as a sign of hope and a new beginning under the desperate and despotic regime of Saddam.
"Since that time the church has grown from a handful of worshippers to a congregation of hundreds. For them to lose their leadership in this way is a sad and terrible blow. I urge Christians everywhere to continue to pray for the Church in Iraq in these even more troublesome times."
Today: Meetings with staff members and a consultant who is helping us think through our small group strategy, as well as a couple of visits to people. It's also a day of much prayer for our bishops who meet today and tomorrow (and they have yet another difficult issue to handle).
Thursday: On the Move Barbeque outside St Silas'. We work with Partick Trinity and Whiteinch Church of Scotland congregations, as well as Navs, to lay on a free BBQ for the community. It's an opportunity to meet people who don't come to church, and it gets us out and about. It's also useful for getting word out about the Alpha Course which starts on October 5th at St Silas (7pm).
There is a wedding rehearsal in the evening, followed by some visiting.
Friday: John and Kimberly's wedding.
Saturday: A strategy meeting of the Board of Glasgow City Mission, followed by another 'On the Move', this time at Whiteinch Cross . Then it's off to St Andrews with Ms GadgetVicar to stay with our very old friends Keith and Janice (old in the sense of 'long time', of course!).
Sunday: Preaching at St Andrews University Chapel at 11am, lunch with the chaplain, then back to Glasgow for the evening service.
Your prayers for all this will be much appreciated.
There are lots of Africans bringing ministry to Glasgow, because they have sensed a call to come here, through work or asylum seeking.
Christian Okeke, a newly-minted Anglican deacon from Nigeria, arrived in Glasgow on Sunday night to begin his Masters course at the International Christian College. He is linked to us for the year that he is in Glasgow.
He has been studying in Harare, Zimbabwe and working as a pastoral worker at Avondale Parish Church for the last few years. Coincidentally, we had a family join us from that church last year, who left the country as its troubles increased.
Christian was ordained in June on the condition that he is connected with an evangelical Anglican Church while he studies here. He comes from the Diocese of Nnewi.
It's going to be good having him around for this next year.
This morning, I had coffee with a colleague who leads another church. He has a servant heart and is not a 'power-freak'. But sadly there are those in that church who oppose any kind of ministry that upsets the status quo. It seems that too many people want a comfortable religion that will be there for them when they need it, but isn't too outward looking. This man is a lovely person, but he and his family have slowly been ground down by the opposition, back-biting and lack of support. I believe that the Lord may well be calling them to 'shake the dust off their feet', and move on. I have several friends in different parts of the country who are facing almost exactly the same circumstances.
The sad thing is, I suspect that these churches have very little future. When the current membership has died-off, that will be it. Many churches face that kind of short and bleak existence. For them, religion and legalism is more important than getting the transforming message of the Gospel out.
It's desperately sad that so many churches are not open to the transforming power of the Gospel. They might be open to changing what the church believes in order to accommodate the culture around them, but ask them to change how they do church for the same reason and they can't handle it. They end up with mere religion.
Lord, Have mercy on all those that lead churches. Give them grace to serve Your people with humility and perseverance. Protect their families from evil and grant them time for joy together. May their churches allow them to lead, and support them in need, that together the Good News of Jesus Christ might be proclaimed in word and deed. Amen.
Erica and Pete get married at St Silas' tomorrow: we have a rehearsal later today. Pete's dad, Ken, is a Presbyterian minister in Northern Ireland, and he is taking their vows. I'm leading and preaching. I'm looking forward to it.
Before that, I am doing marriage preparation with Kimberley and John, who get married next Friday.
For some reason, there is a glee about Katrina that appalls and dismays me. Do people not understand that this is like the tsunami where all sympathy is still given? America was successful in having the warnings out/evacuated millions with Katrina.
The people in N'Orleans knew the levees would fail in a minor hurricane-and refused to act, on every level. This is tragedy. Not cause for being glad to see America be hurt and suffering.
I also think that people forget that we are the architect of the Marshall plan. What will come from this is a better stronger and more prepared America.
The area affected is larger than any European country. I beg to ask how it would have been handled differently-given the fact that Katrina would have wiped out that country.That is how enormous a storm this was.
I went through a cat 5+ hurricane. After such a disaster, you are so exhausted and so "in extremis" that you lose control. Everything that is familiar is simply gone-even in the City here, there were parts that you couldn't tell where houses were and where the street was.
People cannot understand the psychological affect-which the press picked up on and exploited. It took them two days to reach Charleston after Hugo-and we do not have the bayous and swamps that affect the landscape in La, Miss and Ala. that they are dealing with. It took them 5 weeks to restore order here without any of the flooding.That was in 1989. They learned from Hugo how to respond. They learned from Andrew-and they learned more from the hurricanes in Fla. last year. We will learn from this.
Another thing for people to know is that because of the reorganization of the govt. with the terrorism stuff, this was the first time a new system of controls and checks was in place. Parts of it failed-and that was the confusion you witnessed. But one of the things in America's character is that the next time-with Rita-they have already put into place the lessons from Katrina.
America makes mistakes. We screw up. The America bashing with Katrina is causing a backlash here furthering the sentiment for America to withdraw from all the GOOD we do. Withdrawing from the world stage with all our humanitarian aid would be devastating but that is in real danger of happening now.
I hope people understand, if Katrina or Rita cause the damage anticipated to the economy, that this will cause that kind of thinking to be acted on.
I also hope that people understand, being the great country that it is, what will be rebuilt will be better. These people who had nothing before Katrina, will have every advantage. That is why a lot of them will not go back.
I am sorry for my soap box, but I had two emails from people overseas making jokes about it this morning. I am prepared when I get there to deal with the sentiment. I will be patient and listen and then gently answer if it is called for. My country is suffering.
We have been there for everyone else in the world. The world would be a terribly dark and sad place without us.
Sorry to unload. but thanks for listening.
We had a staff day on Cumbrae yesterday. The team said they spotted a guy in a purple shirt with a pectoral cross on the ferry going over- I missed him! I wonder if he was one of the Scottish bishops? Perhaps he will read this and let us know, if only to clear up the mystery?
Anyway, it was a good day of planning, praying and we had a sumptuous lunch at Fraser's Bar in Millport. Apple Caramel 'Granny' to die for......
Then, last night, we had the church monthly praise and prayer. Roly and Adam did a brilliant job at leading, and I got to share a few things on my mind that we need to pray about (namely- unity, protection, property and the need for more good young people's workers). A good turnout again. A time for quiet reflection as well as worship in song.
Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech Thee that,*
during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord.
Found by my friend, Philip, and amended for those of a less catholic persuasion. Omitted from original at * 'through the intercession of Saint Isadore,
bishop and doctor'
Catholic Online saints and angels - St Isadore.