United Methodist stays with peace group in Baghdad
4/1/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
By United Methodist News Service
Kerr views the wreckage of a civilian home in Baghdad, Iraq. He is part
of Christian Peacemakers Teams, an ecumenical ministry started by
Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings
to support "violence reduction" efforts around the world. Kerr is a
member of First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove, Ill A UMNS
photo courtesy of Christian Peacemakers Teams. Photo number 03-126,
Accompanies UMNS #196, 4/1/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
Despite the war with Iraq, a United Methodist from
Downers Grove, Ill., has remained in Baghdad as part of Christian
Peacemaker Teams to make a witness with Iraqi citizens amid the
Scott Kerr, 27, has been in Iraq since early February.
Previously, he has worked with the ecumenical ministry - started by
Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings -
in Chiapas, Mexico, and Colombia.
United Methodist Bishop C.
Joseph Sprague of Chicago noted that Kerr has put his "life on the line"
in efforts to be a presence where people are threatened by violence.
"Scott is a remarkable, remarkable young man, deeply committed to the
holistic gospel," the bishop told United Methodist News Service.
"struggled mightily but prayerfully about the decision to go to Iraq,"
said Sprague, who has not been able to talk to the young man since the
The Iraqi government unexpectedly expelled seven
activists with Christian Peacemakers Teams, along with several others,
March 29. Kerr, however, is still in Baghdad, according to Claire Evans
Kerr's parents, Steve and Diane Kerr, had been in regular
telephone contact with their son until March 27, when a missile attack
on the telephone exchange covering southern Baghdad disrupted
"Scott's a devoted Christian and believes
strongly in what he is doing," Steve Kerr said in a March 31 telephone
interview. The family belongs to First United Methodist Church in
Downers Grove, which has provided prayer support.
for their son's safety, the Kerrs also realize that he has always helped
people who have difficulty helping themselves. "He's been a good
Christian and followed his faith pretty strongly since he was about 15,"
Steve Kerr explained.
While fully supporting the U.S. troops in Iraq, Steve Kerr also said he is "very proud of my son in the work that he does."
is working in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness, a grass-roots
organization that has campaigned in recent years against the
continuation of U.S.-supported sanctions for the Iraqi people. The
organization initiated its Iraq Peace Team, of which CPT is a part, last
"We accompany civilians who are suffering, largely
due to the combined efforts of the U.N. sanctions and the Gulf War," the
team said in a March 17 statement to the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
"We are committed to continue to accompany and befriend civilians in the
event of escalating violence."
Much of that accompaniment occurs
through visits to families, hospitals, churches, mosques and
orphanages. Since the outbreak of war, the team has visited families in
about 10 different neighborhoods whose homes were bombed.
start of the war, not surprisingly, has had an effect on team members.
"We have all heard about 'shock and awe,' but I can tell you that on the
ground it feels a lot more like 'misery and terror,'" Scott Kerr wrote
in the March 24 "Iraq Diaries," posted online. "For the last week,
people have not been working, there has been a very limited access to
food, and other basic necessities. I would say that about 95 percent of
the city is shut down."
Three of the expelled team members
suffered injuries when one of the taxis taking them to the border blew a
tire on the highway and rolled into a ditch. According to CPT, the
injured were initially taken to a nearby children's hospital in
southwestern Iraq, but the facility had been bombed, so they were
treated by Iraqi medical staff at a secondary clinic.
Some expelled team members, now in Amman, Jordan, will remain there to provide support for the Baghdad team.