Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for Iraq on Sunday, August 17

Posted Aug 12, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe Sunday, August 17, as a day of prayer for those in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East living in fear of their lives, livelihoods, and ways of living and believing.

Her call for prayer is in response to violence in Iraq that has included the slaying of Christians, Yazidis, and other Iraqi religious minorities; the destruction and looting of churches, homes, and places of business; and the displacement of thousands under the threat of death.

“Pray that all God’s children might live in hope of the world of peace for which we were created,” she said.

The following collect, which may be used as part of the Prayers of the People or elsewhere in the liturgy, appears on page 815 of the Book of Common Prayer:
Eternal God,
in whose perfect kingdom
no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness,
no strength known but the strength of love:
So mightily spread abroad your Spirit,
That all peoples may be gathered
under the banner of the Prince of Peace,
as children of one Father;
to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Questions about how best to support the Christian community of Iraq may be directed to the Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Middle East Partnership Officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society:


Comments (16)

  1. The Rev. Fred Fenton says:

    I wonder what the response of people on that mountaintop in Iraq, who lack water and food and fear genocide, would be to the message, “We are praying for you?” Isn’t something more needed from the Episcopal Church than prayer on a Sunday morning?

    1. Rita DeCarlo says:

      It’s about time the Episcopal Church requested prayres for them. I asked our rector weeks ago to add a prayer to the Prayers of th People for the Christians in the Middle East. She did it on one Sunday, but I agree that more has to be done than prayer. I’m donating money to the Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Teaneck, NJ and marking it for the Middle East Refugee Fund. If anyone would like to know the address, please contact me. I’m not familiar with the Episcopal Church requesting donations for the Christians in the Middle East.

    2. Susan Young says:

      Perhaps if American Christians stood and died with them it would get the worlds attention. Can we please pray in particular for our Anglican brother Andrew White who puts his life on the line in service to Jesus for ALL people, Christian and non-Christian in Iraq.

  2. Vicki Gray says:

    And those in Gaza…”living in fear of their lives, livelihoods, and ways of living and believing”? Are they subsumed under that “elsewhere in the Middle East” or do Palestinians remain that name that may not be uttered from 815?

    In my church this Sunday we will be joined by a rabbi and we’ll speak of Gaza, Palestine, and Israel.

    And, yes, more is needed – in Iraq, Israel/Palestine…and Syria – than our words and prayers. Do contact Rev. Canon Edmunds and do contribute to American Friends of the Diocese of Jerusalem ( and the Middle East Children’s Alliance ( And, keep praying for the suffering people of the Middle East and that we – the Episcopal Church – may find our voice.

  3. Ed Richards says:

    After hearing about the Pope’s statements today, especially when he called on religions leaders, especially Muslims, but all religions leaders, to speak out against what is happening with the Islamic State of the Levant in Syria and Iraq, it seems that the Presiding Bishop should do more than just call for prayer. Now would be a good time to show solidarity with the Pope in his calls for peace and condemnation of what is happening.

  4. Julian Malakar says:

    I strongly believe our Lord Jesus Christ would protect His followers in 21st century as He did in 1st century by throwing Soul of Tarsus (later converted to slave of Christ and became St. Paul), from his horse and force him to surrender to Christ and die for Him. Soul and his strong men like ISIS were going to Syria to kill Christian. But his convoy was bombarded with dazzling light of Christ throwing all Soul’s companion on the street and made them inactive to take sword against Christian. We must have to have courage and boldly face the situation believing when God is with us, who could defeat us. Devils will be defeated.

  5. Timothy Fountain says:

    Archbishop Mouneer Anis of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East asked for prayer: for peace in the region and grace for Christ’s people in it. So the PB’s message is responsive to that appeal.

    There are good options for giving to relief efforts, and of course we are free to contact our representatives (although there is no one “church position” on intervention strategy).

    The church doesn’t have to justify itself by “fixing” the Middle East, or “preventing” suicide, or by any other earthly metric or cause of the day. We rush from cause to cause, forgetting the priority of proclaiming Christ, who said that we would have big troubles in this world but would find our strength, joy and abundance in him. Yes, our work will improve the temporal circumstances of some people, sometimes. But we don’t have to “prove” our value – no matter how much we do, those who despise the Gospel will despise the church.

    I’m not this PB’s biggest fan, but there’s nothing wrong with her message here. In fact, it is a tight, focused and right appeal for us to go to our greatest strength and good in the midst of problems that the world’s great minds and powers cannot seem to disentangle. So please pray.

    1. Ed Richards says:

      There is nothing wrong with the PB’s message and pray is always needed. If my comment above was taken to mean that we should not pray about the situation and the whole Mid-Eastern nightmare, please excuse me. I just feel that a stronger statement would be appropriate.

    2. Christian Senyoni says:

      Pray without ceasing! Condemning horrific acts is not justifying oneself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one example of the struggle of the hard work of the Gospel of peace in a world full of horrific human carnage perpetrated by unjust systems. We can’t help it but being indignant. If we put ourselves in the shoes of the believers there, your shout is much louder than the shout they are making right now. How are we demonstrating that we care? No need to blame each other that we are not doing enough. DO SOMETHING!

  6. Christian Senyoni says:

    Rev Fred Fenton, thank you for provoking us to think deeply! The church needs those “wake up calls”.

  7. Doug Desper says:

    One day — but only through great pain at the hand of some further atrocity — we will dust off our histories and recall that the founder of Islam began and spread his belief and practice through conquest and violence. There is the also complex reality that Islam, in the main, was never and is not monolithic in thought and leadership. Consequently Islam has never experienced the self critique that came with a comprehensive Renaissance, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Enlightenment. Christianity’s self-critique in those periods has matured us and often chastised us, but only because we experienced the pains of change. Islam has pockets of self-criticism and reformation but they are not being experienced comprehensively throughout the world. Prayer is needed always, but so is the realization that too many followers of The Prophet are following in his very old footsteps wherein nothing short of domination will satisfy. It is truly time for a mass Christian and religious minority refugee program and leave those who live by conquest to themselves. Jeffersonian democracy has no appeal to the jihadists throughout the Middle East and our belabored efforts to will them into a long-overdue Enlightenment will continue to cost the lives of countless believers.

  8. The Rev Donald Heacock says:

    The P. B. could at least call for as much action as she did with the children on the border. They may or may not be refugees. The Christians in Iraq are for sure. Let the Church act now it is urgent. In concert with other Churches let us call for the Government to grant refugee status to all Christians who have fled their homes with nothing. Let us immediately set up the system to bring those who wish to come to the States here. Let us open our churches as we have in the past to help in the resettlement.

  9. R. Edgar Wallace says:

    I do not find anything in the Presiding Bishop’s letter that says prayer is the only thing we should do. If we think that prayer is simply saying words and expecting God take care of the problem like a genie, then we have missed the point of prayer. True prayer should always lead us to deeper understanding and to action. Rather than debating the strength of the PB’s statement, perhaps we should examine what we ourselves have been saying and doing to address this and other humanitarian crises. Bishop Katherine is quite right to call us to prayer. It is up to us to make that prayer a living reality through our compassion and justice.

  10. The Epiiscopalian denomination and community needs to also demand a halt of all bombing in the region. We must take a stand against violence and war. The Christian and Catholic Christian response to war and killing has not been strong enough over the decades. We must demand other options and solutions. or our planet will be in grave trouble for survival and peace.

  11. The Rev Donald Heacock says:

    The Neville Chamberlins of this world will never learn. How do you make peace with people who cut a child into because he is a Christian or men who take dozens of you girls prisoner and sell them into slavery. Should we have stood by while 6,000,000 Jews were gassed!

  12. Joel Watson+ says:

    Some things can ONLY be taken care of through prayer. I think this is a quote. Or, perhaps Jesus SOULD have “simply” called down 10,000 legions of angels. Orate Fratres. Orate. On the other hand, 10,000 legions of non-military, non-power-crazed People of God going there, without weapons, without power? Pray. God is here, just as at the cross. is there not more than one way to skin a cat…

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