(Feb. 8, 2007) — A “Christian Peace Witness for Iraq” is planned for Washington, D.C., on March 16, the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. Two Church of the Brethren ministries–the Brethren Witness/Washington Office of the General Board, and On Earth Peace–are among organizations partnering to sponsor the event.
Other sponsors are Christian Peacemaker Teams, Every Church a Peace Church, the American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Support Network, Sojourners/Call to Renewal, and peace fellowships and ministries of several mainline denominations, among others. The event also is being considered a follow up to the Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
“We believe that until the Christian community is willing to take risks for peace, to put its words into action, to publicly witness that the war in Iraq is wrong, more people will die, more violence will shatter more lives, and we will all be less secure,” said an invitation to the event from On Earth Peace. “We ask you to join us in praying for peace, studying the scriptures, learning nonviolence, lighting candles of hope, and gathering together for an ecumenical public witness.”
“Whether or not you come to DC that weekend, you are invited to join in prayers and preparation for nonviolent resistance in your context,” the invitation continued. The website for the event also offers suggestions for participation in congregations and local communities around the country, from March 15-17 (http://www.christianpeacewitness.org/).
The witness will focus on five points: end the US occupation of Iraq, support our troops, rebuilding Iraq, say no to torture, and say yes to justice. “We call on the President and Congress to bring our troops home from Iraq, to remove our military bases, and to stop threatening Iran and other nations,” say the focus statement, in part. “Like Jesus, who healed the sick and preached good news to the poor, we are called to be a pastoral presence to our country. We call on one another to care for soldiers and their families who give so much of themselves in times of conflict. We call on the President and Congress to provide generous support for veterans and active-duty soldiers and their families as they seek to rebuild their lives.”
Participants are asked to prepare for the experience through praying daily for the end of the war and occupation, studying the Bible and its implications for US foreign policy (suggested scripture references include Luke 19:41-42, Isaiah 31, Luke 7:22, Galatians 5:13-15, Romans 12:19-21, Matthew 26:51-52, Matthew 7:12, Deuteronomy 30:19, Luke 1:46-55, and Micah 6:8), learning about and practicing active nonviolence, fasting toward grounding security in God, inviting neighbors to join in public witness against the war, lighting candles in the windows of homes and houses of worship, participating in a weekly peace witness in town centers, and forming groups for prayer, study, and action.
These preparations will culminate in a public Christian witnesses for peace on March 16 in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. The event will include an evening ecumenical worship service at the Washington National Cathedral, a candlelight procession to the White House, and a late-night peace vigil during which some participants may engage in civil disobedience, or what the organizers are calling “divine obedience.”
Resources and more information are at http://www.christianpeacewitness.org/.
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