Anglican lay leaders in Iraq feared dead

The entire lay leadership of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, Iraq, is missing and presumed to have been killed after being attacked on a dangerous road west of Baghdad while returning from a conference in Jordan.

The five Iraqis were last heard from on September 13. “We are all devastated. This is the very core of our Anglican Church in Iraq, losing key leadership will be devastating,” Canon Andrew White, rector of St. George’s, told the Times online paper.

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.

Lay members of the Church fulfil roles in religious services and administration, without being ordained as priests.

Since it reopened in 2003 after the Iraq war, St. George’s Church has flourished in recent months with regular Sunday worship attendance at 800.

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