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Archbishop of Canterbury leads prayers at Jordan River

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/05/2017
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, center, takes a golf cart past a church at the baptism site al-Maghtas in Jordan Wednesday. May, 3, 2017. The head of the Anglican church was on a visit to the region to meet refugees including Christians from Iraq and King Abdullah II. He pledged support for the refugees in Europe as well as in the Middle East. "We do not want a Middle East without Christians. Christians are the past in the Middle East, they are the present and they must be the future," said the archbishop. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil) © The Associated Press The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, center, takes a golf cart past a church at the baptism site al-Maghtas in Jordan Wednesday. May, 3, 2017. The head of the Anglican church was on a visit to the region to meet refugees including Christians from Iraq and King Abdullah II. He pledged support for the refugees in Europe as well as in the Middle East. "We do not want a Middle East without Christians. Christians are the past in the Middle East, they are the present and they must be the future," said the archbishop. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

AL-MAGTHAS, Jordan — The head of the Anglican Church prayed at the Jordan River as part of a Middle East tour in which he met with Iraqi Christian refugees.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, led prayers Wednesday at the Bethany Beyond the Jordan archaeological site, believed to be the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus of Nazareth.

He called for greater support for those in need, saying: "In this place where we hear birdsong and running water we are surrounded, within a few kilometers (miles), with violence."

The Middle East is home to the oldest Christian communities in the world, but large numbers have fled in recent years to escape war and Islamic extremism.

Welby was expected to visit Israel later in the day.

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