[Anglican Communion News Service] The parish priest at St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, Iraq, Father Faiz Jerjes, has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II with an MBE – member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – “for services to the Anglican, Christian and local community in Baghdad.”
In a statement, the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf sent “warmest congratulations from the rest of the Diocese . . . to Canon Faiz, his family, and all who worship at St George’s.”
The honorary award of an MBE by Queen Elizabeth is not the first official recognition of Father Jerjes’ ministry. In 2017, he was named one of Iraq’s “Personalities Of The Year” by the country’s Ministry of Culture and in 2018 he was honored by the Iraqi Army for his peace-building efforts and for “his outstanding contribution to peaceful co-existence in Iraq.” At the time, the Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army, Lieutenant-General Othman al-Ghanmi, praised Father Faiz “for his courage in helping to raise awareness of issues others feared to broach.”
The church is currently struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic and about 2,000 new cases a day in Iraq. “Most observers believe that the true number is much higher,” according to the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME), which supports the Church in Baghdad. “There is a stigma around illness in some communities and this is thought to lead to a lot of under-reporting.”
FRRME funds St. George’s medical center, which was treating 2,000 patients each month before the pandemic. One of its doctors has tested positive for the virus as has a staff member of the church. “They both went into quarantine of course”, FRRME said. “Once again this demonstrates the risks which front-line medics work under in the current health crisis.”
The medical center has purchased a new sanitizing unit that will be used by everyone entering the clinic to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The clinic is treating people with mild Covid-19 symptoms. More advanced cases are being referred to local hospitals.