Visiting Iraqi Christians
A priest of the Diocese recently visited Iraq to meet with local Christians, who are now beginning to recover as a community, following the expulsion of Daesh in July 2017.
The Revd Canon Dr William Taylor, Vicar of St John’s Church, Notting Hill, previously visited the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq, accompanied by the late Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, in December 2014 at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
At the time many Christians were living as refugees due to the advance of Daesh forces in the region, and they both promised to return to Iraq once Daesh had been driven out.
Bishop Geoffrey died in June 2017, shortly before the area was liberated. However, William decided to honour his memory, and their promise to Iraqi Christians by visiting the country in August this year. He did so at the request of Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN), of which he has recently become a Patron.
During this visit, William visited one of the largest remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Erbil – home to some 1500 families. There he learnt that IDP funding for would end this September – marking a critical moment for the Christian community as many families are now being encouraged to return to their homes.
He also visited some of the villages worst hit by the occupation, such as Tell Uskuf, Batnaya, and Al Kosh. He saw first-hand the devastation that had been unleashed, but also the reconstruction process – with many local communities now flourishing again in an attempt to return to some semblance of normality.
William Taylor said of his experiences:
“It was extraordinary to return to Iraq three years since my last visit. The occupation by Daesh will scar both the country, and its people for years to come. However, I was struck by not only the optimism of those Iraqi Christians who are now returning to their homes, but also their undiminished determination to rebuild their homes and churches, and practice their faith.”
You can read a full account William’s of his visit to Iraq via the downloadable document.
Photographs courtesy of Denny Chan.