The vicar of St George's Anglican Church in Baghdad has been awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in a ceremony at the British Embassy in the Iraqi capital.
Rev. Canon Faiz Jerjes, was recognised for his contributions to peacebuilding and services to Baghdad's Anglican, Christian and local community.
Initially approved by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the presentation of the award was delayed for more than two years due to the pandemic.
Canon Jerjes is the first and only Iraqi citizen ordained as an Anglican cleric, and he's long been an advocate for the rights of religious minorities and integral to inter-faith reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK's Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the United Nations, presented the MBE and cited Canon Jerjes' efforts on behalf of not only Iraqi Christians but all faith groups across the nation, including the beleaguered Yazidi community.
Also in attendance were Mark Bryson-Richardson, British Ambassador to Iraq; Archbishop Michael Lewis, Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf; Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, Apostolic Nuncio for the Holy See; Sheikh Ali al-Soudani, the personal representative of the Grand Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr; and the tribal leader Sheikh Saddam al-Atwani.
In 2017 Canon Jerjes was honoured by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture as one of Iraq's Distinguished Personalities of the Year for his support for human rights. A year later, the Iraqi Army recognised him for "his outstanding contributions to peaceful co-existence in Iraq".
Canon Jerjes has been associated with St. George's since 2006 and served as the church's curate before being named Priest-in-Charge in January 2015.
With the support of both Mosaic Middle East (the working name of The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East ) and the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, Canon Jerjes and St. George's supported scores of internally displaced families fleeing ISIS in 2015.
In addition to the church, the vicar oversees the Anglican School of the Redeemer, which opened in September 2018 and is located on the St. George's campus, as well as a medical and dental clinic that provides free healthcare to people of all faiths.
Helen Jackson, executive director of Mosaic Middle East, said: "We are thrilled that Canon Jerjes' tireless work on behalf of the people of Iraq has been recognised in this way. His leadership is characterised by powerful yet humble advocacy, and the whole Mosaic family is looking forward to continuing to work with him to bring hope and healing to many."
St George's Anglican Church, Baghdad is known as an 'oasis of grace' and serves a congregation of over three hundred.