Over a thousand people gathered in a Des Moines church last night to pray for peace. The event featured the leaders of Iowa’s dominant Christian denominationsans and included churches that believe in the concept of a “just war” as well as those, like the Quakers, who oppose all war. Reverend Sarai Beck, the executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa, says the evening was an “offering of protest and severe anger” that the U-S is nearing war with Iraq. The 90-minute-long service was capped by a fiery address by Iowa Methodist Bishop Gregory Palmer, who says the assembly came together to give voice to their yearning for peace. Palmer says he stands opposed to any strike against Iraq. Palmer says when all the bombs have dropped, “our deepest yearnings for peace that lasts” will not have been met. Bishop Joseph Charron of the Catholic Diocese of Southwest Iowa, says now is the time for “promoters of peace” to “pray in earnest.”Susan Ingham of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ says it’s time to “step back from the brink of war.”Reverend Roy Neilson of the host St. John’s Lutheran Church says the crowd were witnesses for peace.Reverend Cheryl Thomas, a representative of Mid-American Baptist Churches, says in the past year and a half, churches have been “a conflicted community, hesitant to respond” when the “drumbeats of war are at their loudest.”Children and Family Urban Ministries director Carmen Lampe Zeitler says the crowd came together in sorrow.
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