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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Kember enjoys first day at home
Norman and Pat Kember
Mr Kember was delighted to be reunited with wife Pat
Freed hostage Norman Kember has gone to church on his first day back home since returning to the UK from Iraq.

The Christian peace campaigner attended a service at Harrow Baptist Church in north London, where prayers of thanks were said in his honour.

He and two Canadians were held for 117 days in Baghdad before they were found by coalition forces tied up in a house.

Mr Kember, 74, restated his opposition to foreign troops in the country, but thanked the soldiers who rescued him.

There were about 100 people at the church service to hear the Reverend Bob Gardiner thank God for answering his prayers "so wonderfully and perhaps even unexpectedly".

Mr Gardiner said Mr Kember's release had come about "as a result of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist - and people of no faith - and the Jewish also who have worked together for this day".

The gospel makes us all take absolutely irresponsible risks for the kingdom
Reverend Bob Gardiner

He added: "Our tears of sorrow have been changed into tears of joy."

Mr Kember and his organisation, the Christian Peacemaker Teams, have drawn criticism from some who believe their presence in Iraq is irresponsible and wastes Army resources.

The former hostage said on Saturday: "I do not believe that a lasting peace is achieved by armed force but I pay tribute to their courage and thank those who played a part in my rescue."

Mr Gardiner responded to the criticism, telling the congregation: "The gospel makes us all take absolutely irresponsible risks for the kingdom."
Norman Kember arrives in Pinner
Crowds greeted his return

The minister then offered a prayer for the soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Mr Kember was one of four westerners seized on 26 November while on a visit to support the Canada-based international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

American Tom Fox, 54, was found shot dead in Baghdad earlier this month.

Two Canadians, James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were freed at the same time as Mr Kember.

Mr Loney is expected at Heathrow on Sunday en route to Toronto.

Neither the Foreign Office nor the Ministry of Defence would say whether a pledge was made to Mr Kember's family about how they would conduct the rescue operation.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Norman Kember attend a service at his local church



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