THE BISHOP of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, and the chairman of the
Liverpool mosque, Akhar Ali, issued a joint appeal on Tuesday to the militant
group who were still holding hostage the British engineer, Kenneth Bigley, as
the Church Times went to press.
The message to the captors, in English and Arabic, read: "In the name of God
the merciful One, we as Muslim and Christian leaders in Liverpool appeal to you
as believers to have mercy."
Speaking on Today on Radio 4 on Wednesday, Mr Ali condemned the
beheading of hostages as "cold-blooded murder" and as "completely and utterly
On the programme, the Bishop reiterated the importance of Christians’ and
Muslims’ standing up to show that they could work together.
The Revd Trevor Latham, Team Rector of Walton-on-the-Hill, in Liverpool, was
unaware until he saw reports on Tuesday’s breakfast news that Mr Bigley’s
mother and other family members were at a house close to the parish church. He
dropped a card through the letterbox suggesting a vigil. More than 250 people
arrived for the vigil service on Tuesday evening. More came and went as the
During the service, Mr Latham was tapped on the shoulder by a churchwarden
to say that another American hostage, Jack Hensley, had been killed. "This
announcement came in the context of a silent, prayerful vigil — I had to decide
what to do. The reaction was tangible, with audible intakes of breath," he
said. "I asked people to pray for the soul of Jack Hensley and for his family."
Mr Latham met some of the family after the service. The Bigley family is
Roman Catholic, and a priest from the Metropolitan Cathedral took communion to
them on Tuesday.
Canon’s work continues. Canon Andrew White, international
director of the Iraqi Institute for Peace, was having talks with government
officials in the United States this week, after his departure from Iraq on
safety grounds (
News, 10 September). His team in Baghdad was still doing hostage work, but
had had little success in the past few weeks, Canon White said on Tuesday.
"The reality is that there are two types of hostage-taking: the economic and
the political," he said. "People are often taken for economic reasons, but are
sold up the train for political reasons, to whoever is willing to pay the
Canon White is dismayed by the worsening political situation in Iraq, and
acknowledges his hope to be more theological than political. "But we mustn’t
give up," he said.