Thursday, March 15, 2007

Remembering Four Years of War in Iraq

This appeared today in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Christian candlelight vigil to mark war anniversary

By Todd Guild, Sentinel Correspondent

When self-styled "peace worker" Annie Kelley attended an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., two years ago, she walked into a religious revival and discovered an ally that surprised her -- the Christian community.

Kelley, a member of the Santa Cruz chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, listened to impassioned speeches by Christian leaders speaking in opposition to the Iraq war and was inspired.

"I was excited about the possibility of both religious and spiritual organizations and communities bringing their voices together to speak out against what our government is doing in Iraq," she said.

Since then, Kelley has become entrenched in the interfaith peace movement, and on Friday will help organize a Christian candlelight vigil at Calvary Episcopal Church. The day will also mark the four-year anniversary of the Iraq war.

The Santa Cruz vigil coincides with more than 190 others across the nation, from San Francisco to Little Rock to New York City.

The main event is in Washington, DC, where more than 3,000 people are expected to advocate for peace. Participants there will attend a service at the Washington National Cathedral, then walk by candlelight to the White House, where they will remain until midnight.

"We believe that it's time for Christians who believe in peace to stand up and be counted," said William Yaryan, a parishioner at Holy Cross Church who will attend the Santa Cruz vigil. "I believe that Jesus was for peace. The Gospel message was one of peace, not of war"

Nationwide, the vigils were spearheaded by Christian Peace Witness, a coalition of religious groups from across the country. They're designed as an all-Christian event to dispel the belief that the majority of Christians favor the war, according to Katie Barge, spokeswoman for the group Faith in Public Life, which works with Christian Peace Witness.

"We felt it was important as a Christian community to make a strong statement that we object to this war," she said. "Where faith has been used as a justification for going to war, we're trying to use it to justify a call to peace"

Friday's event will be attended by members of churches across the county, including United Methodist, St. Stephen's Lutheran, Garfield Park Christian, St John the Baptist and the University Christian Campus Ministry at UC Santa Cruz. Up to 180 people are expected to attend.

"This vigil wouldn't have happened without Annie," said the Rev. Joel Miller of Calvary Episcopal Church. "It was her idea to have a local expression of a national effort"

While the event was organized primarily as a Christian one, Kelley is quick to point out that the doors are open to all members of the community.

"One of the most exciting things for me is that I've met a lot of people from the spiritual and religious community who didn't know each other before," said Kelley. "They all have a desire to speak out against our leaders. They're all on the same page in their communities, but they don't know each other. It's exciting to help those introductions happen"

The vigil will be 7 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church, 532 Center St. It concludes with a walk up Pacific Avenue, ending at the Town Clock.

Copyright (c) Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an alluminating article. LOVE IT!!!!!