A PRIEST from Manchester is travelling to Iraq in an attempt to demonstrate that, in the face of violence, a middle way between inaction and retaliation is possible.
A curate at Wythenshawe, the Revd Adam Dickson, will be in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq between 29 August and 10 September. He is going with Christian Peacemaker Teams.
“Like so many people, I have been feeling deeply distressed over the ongoing situation in the Middle East, and particularly in more recent times with the rise of ISIS and the devastation that has been causing,” he said on Monday.
“I had a desire to try to make what I believe is a Christian response in a time when political discourse seems caught between inaction and retaliation; to try to work out what it means to follow Jesus in a situation of extreme violence. It’s about making a small attempt to walk in the way of the cross and stand with those affected by violence.”
During his visit, he will be visiting villagers, shepherding communities and displaced people, learning about the context of the current conflict, and, he hopes, “promoting peace and reconciliation on the ground”.
Mr Dickson — who last month protested against the hosting of the annual Land Warfare Conference at Church House Conference Centre — is reluctant to call himself a pacifist.
“I see the gospel as a call to non-violence,” he said. “Pacifism suggests ‘non-action’, but what I am witnessing to is a response that is neither violence nor non-active. It’s standing with people in solidarity.”
The rise of IS had caused him to “wrestle with those convictions”, he said. “I have been struggling very deeply with what an appropriate Christians response looks like. . . By participating in this delegation, I am not suggesting I have solutions or answers. . . It is about being there . . . trying to work out what a Jesus-centred response would be.”
Solidarity. A 24-hour prayer vigil for those persecuted in Iraq and Syria is being held on 18 September at All Saints’, Middlesbrough.
A non-stipendiary minister at the Ascension, Middlesbrough, the Revd Richard Brown, has organised it in response to a plea from an Iraqi priest, Fr John, killed last month by an IS attack in the camp of displaced Christians in northern Iraq, where he was ministering.
The priest had sent to the UK, via a woman of Mr Brown’s acquaintance, the only Christian symbol he possessed — a small cross — with the request “that we pray diligently for the Christians of Iraq”. The vigil will begin at 6 p.m.