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United Methodist leaders support call to honor fallen soldiers

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Jim Winkler
Aug. 25, 2005

A UMNS Report
By Ciona Rouse*

United Methodist leaders are joining the National Council of Churches in a call for local congregations to ring bells Sunday, Aug. 28, in honor of the men and women who have died in the Iraq war.

The appeal follows the NCC’s show of solidarity in mid-August with military families holding a peace vigil outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“To toll bells in solidarity with the vigil keepers in Crawford, Texas, is a holy and spiritual matter,” said Jim Winkler, the top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in Washington. “Our concern is for the mothers who have lost their sons, and for all who have died in Iraq over the past two and a half years. Let us work and pray for a speedy end to this dreadful war.”

United Methodists have been part of that vigil, while other United Methodists have joined a growing group of Bush supporters holding a counter protest in Crawford, where the president has been vacationing. A pro-Bush rally is planned in Crawford for Aug. 27.

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Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
The NCC issued the call to local churches Aug. 24, saying the ringing of the bells would “symbolize national support for U.S. troops and their families.”

The organization’s online effort, Faithful America, wants congregations to continue tolling the bells beyond Aug. 28, weekly or daily, in honor of the soldiers and as a way of continuing the tone of the vigil.

“I support the call to ring church bells this Sunday,” said Bishop Gregory Palmer of the denomination’s Iowa Area. “It will remind us of the sacrifice of those who have died in Iraq. The sound, across the nation, will embrace the families who are feeling the pain of losing loved ones. We stand pastorally with them in their grief.”

The National Council of Churches is an ecumenical organization with 36 member denominations, including the United Methodist Church.

*Rouse is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or

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