THE former Chaplain of St George's, Bagdad, Canon Andrew White, has announced that he is starting a new organisation to facilitate his work in the Middle East.
Canon White was suspended from his post as President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) earlier this year after it emerged the Charity Commission had begun an inquiry into claims that ransoms were paid to secure the release of young girls held as sex slaves by so-called Islamic State (News, 1 July).
In a Facebook post on Friday, Canon White announced that he had left FRRME and established a new body — Andrew White Reconciliation Ministries (AWRM) — which, unlike FRRME, would not be a registered charity “because that places on us too many restrictions”.
The new organisation will work with Operation Blessing, a humanitarian aid agency founded by American televangelist Pat Robertson.
AWRM would be a vehicle to continue funding many of the projects already underway across the Middle East, including a school in Jordan, Canon White said. He ended the message with an “urgent” call for donations from supporters.
In a video also posted on Facebook, he said: “We are going to continue all of our work with the Iraqi refugees in Jordan and with the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community here. So we will be crossing barriers, and making peace between so-called enemies and friends. We will bring them together in the promise of Christ. So, come with us.”
In September, Canon White told Premier Radio that he had never given any money to terrorists in ransoms, but instead knew someone who had done. “We were therefore paying for [girls rescued from Islamic State] to be rehoused and restored and helped, and all that wasn’t official,” he said.
A statement released by the trustees of FRRME at the time of his suspension said that they believed the alleged incident “stemmed from a genuine desire by Canon White to help others”. They would co-operate fully with the authorities during the inquiry, the statement said.
This week, the trustees said in a statement that they had reluctantly accepted Canon White’s resignation on the grounds of ill health and an inability to complete his duties.
Canon White, who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years, said on Facebook last week that a recent check-up had found his brain was so badly damaged that he was “finished”.
“Every aspect of my brain is so inflamed and scarred,” he wrote. “They were even saying that with this amount of damage I must have dementia. I know G-d has not finished with me yet. I simply need a miracle and my G-d is good at them.”