Canon Andrew White brings message of Christian unity to Coast

Canon Andrew White brings message of Christian unity to Coast

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad, has become internationally known for his peacemaking efforts throughout the Middle East, pulling together Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

But, there's one battle even he has lost faith in solving.

White is well loved on the Coast. This is his second visit, invited by a chance meeting with a pilot from Gulfport. Much of his time this week has been visiting with area churches, especially the youth.

White carries with him stories of faith, hope and respect. They are the tools, he says, that have served him well negotiating peace.

"It takes somebody who is prepared to take risks," White said. "And somebody who is prepared to sit down with enemies and listen to their story."

The Anglican priest, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, served his church in Baghdad until his superiors asked him to move to Jerusalem for his safety after ISIS became a threat.

"They offered a price on my head, $157 million, which I thought was quite a good price," White joked. "I was worried when it was just $30,000. I said, 'Is that all I'm worth?'"

He has since established another ministry there and in Jordan with many of the same Christians he served in Iraq.

But, he has lost faith that anything can be done to solve the threat of ISIS, despite his efforts.

"I have a tradition. I always invite people, even bad people, to come have dinner with me. I invited some of the ISIS leaders. They said, 'If we come, we'll chop your head off.' I didn't invite them again," said White. "We can't work with ISIS. We can't discuss things with ISIS. There is no hope of discussion or moving forward. They are totally against reconciliation."

He was in Iraq when the coalition forces withdrew. He knew there was going to be a problem.

"I said in two years, we are going to have a war in our hands. In 18 months, we did," White recalled.

His message this week has been one of unity among Christians.

"We are family," he said. "The Christians in Gulfport, the Christians in Baghdad are all the same family."

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