Peace witness set for March 7 in nation’s capital

Iraq war protest coincides with Ecumenical Advocacy Days

by Jerry L. Van Marter

Presbyterian News Service

WASHINGTON — People of faith from a variety of religious traditions — including Christians, Jews and Muslims — will join here in a day of worship and witness in opposition to the war in Iraq on March 7.

Called the Interfaith Peace Witness, the event is co-sponsored by the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and will include other coordinated events around the country. It will also coincide with the March 7-10 Ecumenical Advocacy Days, an annual conference co-sponsored by nearly 50 churches and other religious and humanitarian organizations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“It is our obligation to be the moral conscience and compass of our nation,” said Rick Ufford-Chase, former PC(USA) General Assembly moderator and executive director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. “Ending the tragedy of the war, which most of our religious bodies advised against five years ago, will be the greatest political challenge of our time.”

Ufford-Chase, who helped organize the first Interfaith Peace Witness a year ago on behalf of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, noted that this spring marks the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In staging this year’s event, he said “We commit to be relentless in our common effort to end the war, to honor the service of our soldiers, and to help all of those who have been affected — in the U.S. and in Iraq — to rebuild their lives.”

Keynote speakers for the event, which will include workshops, a worship service and a public demonstration against the war, are the Rev. James Forbes, recently retired pastor of Riverside Church in New York and founder of Healing of the Nations; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Ms. Asma Mirza, president of the national Muslim Students Association.

The schedule for the day includes workshops in the morning, worship at noon and a peaceful rally in Upper Senate Park at 2:30 p.m.