“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me….” — Psalm 23:4a
STATEMENTS FROM ON EARTH PEACE AND CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER TEAMS, ON THE DEATH OF PEACEMAKER TOM FOX
Tom Fox, one of four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who have been missing in Iraq since Nov. 2005, was found dead in Baghdad on Thursday evening, March 9. The Associated Press reported that Fox’s body had “gunshots to his head and chest.” Fox was 54 years old, from Clear Brook, Va.
Following are statements from CPT and from On Earth Peace, a Church of the Brethren agency with a close relationship to CPT.
Statement from On Earth Peace:
The tragic news of the death of Tom Fox brings pain and grief to many of us. Tom was one of four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who have been held captive in Baghdad since last November. The other three men, Harmeet Singh Sooden, Norman Kember, and Jim Loney, were seen alive in a brief videotape dated Feb. 28, and shown on Al Jazeera television on March 7.
Tom Fox, a 54-year-old Quaker, was aware of the possible costs of bringing a Christian witness of nonviolence into a war zone. He wrote, “We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies…we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.”
A statement released by CPT said, “Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war…. Let us all join our voices on behalf of those who continue to suffer under occupation, whose loved ones have been killed or are missing. In so doing, we may hasten the day when both those who are wrongly detained and those who bear arms will return safely to their homes. In such a peace we will find solace for our grief.”
On Earth Peace has a close liaison relationship with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and has co-sponsored peace delegations to Israel/Palestine. We stand beside our CPT sisters and brothers in this time of loss and we deeply appreciate their bold and loving response to this violent act.
In a time so tender and so filled with pain, we call upon Church of the Brethren congregations and individuals to join us in prayer.
The following may be used as a prayer litany in worship services:
We pray for the family of Tom Fox as they cope with this terrible loss.
We pray for the three CPTers who still being held and for those who are holding them.
We pray for all who are suffering from violence in Iraq.
We pray for ourselves, that we might be inspired by Tom’s witness to follow Jesus more closely in our own lives, no matter where that may lead us.
Statement from CPT: We mourn the loss of Tom Fox
In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion. The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain. Tom Fox’s body was found in Baghdad yesterday.
Christian Peacemaker Teams extends our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have traveled so closely in these days of crisis.
We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.
We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney, and Norman Kember. Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus’ prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.
In response to Tom’s passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done. In Tom’s own words: `We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.’
Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war.
Through these days of crisis, Christian Peacemaker Teams has been surrounded and upheld by a great outpouring of compassion: messages of support, acts of mercy, prayers, and public actions offered by the most senior religious councils and by school children, by political leaders and by those organizing for justice and human rights, by friends in distant nations and by strangers near at hand. These words and actions sustain us. While one of our teammates is lost to us, the strength of this outpouring is not lost to God’s movement for just peace among all peoples.
At the forefront of that support are strong and courageous actions from Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world for which we are profoundly grateful. Their graciousness inspires us to continue working for the day when Christians speak up as boldly for the human rights of thousands Iraqis still detained illegally by the United States and United Kingdom.
Such an outpouring of action for justice and peace would be a fitting memorial for Tom. Let us all join our voices on behalf of those who continue to suffer under occupation, whose loved ones have been killed or are missing. In so doing, we may hasten the day when both those who are wrongly detained and those who bear arms will return safely to their homes. In such a peace we will find solace for our grief.
Despite the tragedy of this day, we remain committed to put into practice these words of Jim Loney: `With the waging of war, we will not comply. With the help of God’s grace, we will struggle for justice. With God’s abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.’ We continue in hope for Jim, Harmeet and Norman’s safe return home safe.”
–Signed by Doug Pritchard, CPT Co-Director (Canada), and Carol Rose, CPT Co-Director (USA). Originally a violence-reduction initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Church of the Brethren, and Quaker), CPT now enjoys support and membership from a wide range of Christian denominations. For more information go to http://www.cpt.org/.