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Interfaith fast calls for end to Iraq war

By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Sept. 24, 2007 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)


Jim Winkler addresses members of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society at their Sept. 13-16 meeting in Washington. The social justice agency is calling for United Methodists to join other people of faith Oct. 8 for a day of fasting and prayer urging an end to the Iraq war. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

An interfaith fast for peace will be held from sunrise to sunset Oct. 8 and people of all faiths are urged to pray together for an end to the war in Iraq.

Joining in the call is Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

During the agency's Sept. 13-16 fall board meeting, Winkler said "the war was wrong from the outset and it is wrong still. We must continue to oppose the unjust occupation of Iraq."

Addressing members of the board, he said, "Sisters and brothers, we gather here in Washington, D.C. in the midst of intense debate over the war in Iraq. Although a majority of the U.S. Congress now opposes the war, there still are not enough votes to bring it to an end. Four and a half long years have come and gone and the death toll of Iraqis and Americans continues to mount."

The Board of Church and Society "has been the most resolute and consistent voice of opposition to the war in this the third largest denomination in the nation," he noted.

Winkler pointed out Osama bin Laden has re-emerged, reminding the United States of who was behind the attacks on Sept. 11. "The United States fought the wrong people and did so willfully. That is morally criminal."

Winkler said planning meetings for the interfaith fast have taken place in the United Methodist Building and Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders are inviting everyone to join together on Oct. 8.

"I pray not only that you will join us in fasting on Oct. 8, but that you will return to your annual conferences and congregations and spread the word there, too," he said.

The leaders of many faith communities are inviting millions of Americans to organize joint interfaith events in local communities. Groups may register their events at www.interfaithfast.org where groups may also find an organizing toolkit to assist in putting together such gatherings.  A church bulletin insert on fasting for Christians may also be found at the Web site.

"American culture, society, and policy are addicted to violence at home and overseas," says the organizing statement. "In our time, the hope of a decent future is endangered by an unnecessary, morally abhorrent, and disastrous war. Ending this war can become the first step toward a policy that embodies a deeper, broader sense of generosity and community at home and in the world."

Among those religious leaders organizing or endorsing this event are: Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center, Philadelphia; Sayyid M. Sayeed, Islamic Society of North America, Plainfield, Ill.; the Rev. Shanta Premawardhana, staff executive for interfaith relations and the Rev. Michael Livingston, president, National Council of Churches; Jean Stoken, Pax Christi Roman Catholic peace ministry; Tarunjit Singh Butalia, moderator of Religions for Peace USA; Rick Ufford-Chase, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Christian Peace Witness, and Bishop Christopher Epting, The Episcopal Church.

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org .

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