In response to an invitation from the Westminster Group of Washington D.C. and Barnabas Aid USA, a delegation of the Assyrian Church of the East visited the U.S. capitol from July 10-15, 2010. The Westminster Group had hosted a delegation of the ‘Council of Iraqi Christian Leaders’ to meet with various senators, congressmen and the State Department in Washington. The Iraqi delegation was headed by Archbishop Avak Asadourian, the Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Iraq and the General Secretary of the Council; His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq & Russia for the Assyrian Church of the East; Rev. Joseph Al Sakka of the Presbyterian Church in Iraq. Accompanying the Iraqi delegation were other prelates from the U.S., namely: H.G. Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod (appointed by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV to attend the meetings); Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphram Karim, Syrian Orthodox Bishop of the Diocese of USA; Bishop Yousif Habash of the Syrian Catholic Church, Diocese of USA & Canada; and Mons. Emmanuel Shalita of the Chaldean Catholic Church (Detroit). Other Assyrian social and political activists from Chicago, Illinois and London (UK) were also present.
Some of the highlights of the delegation’s visit included a service at the Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. on Sunday, July 11. On Monday, July 12th the delegation visited the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the US in order to apprise them of the condition of the Christians in Iraq. Later in the evening, the Iraqi Ambassador to the US had invited the delegation to supper. On Tuesday, July 13th the delegation visited a number of US congressmen in order to apprise them of the status of the Christians of Iraq, which include the Assyrians, Armenians, Syriacs, etc. Among the congressmen consulted were Anna Esho of California and members of her caucus. On Wednesday, July 14th the delegation and other attendees met with Mr. Michael Corbin, the Assistant -Deputy Secretary of State. During the hour-long meeting, Mr. Corbin was further apprised by the delegation of the present state of Christians in Iraq, and what indispensable steps would contribute to their preservation, and to the promotion of stability and peace in the country as a whole; other minority groups such as the Mandeans, Yezidis and Bahai were also represented at this important meeting. The same afternoon, and on the following day, more congressmen were briefed by members of the delegation as to the status and condition of the Christians. Follow-up meetings will be prepared in order to ensure that necessary contacts are continued and that concrete steps as discussed in the various meetings will be carried forth.[nggallery id=29]