Five lay leaders missing from Baghdad church are feared dead

By on November 1, 2005

Baghdad

The entire lay leadership of St. George’s Anglican church in Baghdad is missing and feared dead after being attacked on the notoriously dangerous stretch of road between Falluja and Ramadi while returning from a trip to Jordan.

The five Iraqis were last heard from on Sept.13. “The most difficult thing is not knowing for sure what has happened,” Canon Andrew White, rector of St. George’s, told Episcopal News Service.

“We have no news of them and fear the worst,” Archbishop Clive Handford, president bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, told BBC News. There has been no sign of the group in local hospitals to see if they were rushed there.

Those missing were identified as lay pastor Maher Dakel, his wife and women’s ministry co-ordinator, Mona; their son Yihaya; deputy pastor Firas Raad; and an unnamed driver.

St. George’s church is the last remaining Anglican church in Iraq and is part of the Anglican congregation of the American Embassy chapel. Founded in 1936, it was forcibly closed for 10 years under Saddam Hussein. It has flourished in recent months with regular Sunday worship attendance at 800.

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