By Todd Flory
Daily news and photos will be posted from National Youth Conference (NYC) on July 22-27. The conference will take place at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. Beginning July 22 find the NYC daily pages at www.brethren.org (click on the link on the Feature Bar).
On the day the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference passed a resolution urging the US and other nations to seek peace by bringing the troops home from Iraq, a group of Brethren gathered in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, to display their opposition to the US-led war. Organized by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, the event featured prayer, song, and words on how best to witness for peace as people of faith.
“There are things we can do to stop it (the war). We are doing something right now. We do something every time we talk to one of our neighbors who has a different opinion,” said Carol Rose, director of Christian Peacemaking Teams (CPT). “Be encouraged, because the drops fall and the rock gets warn away.”
Rose talked about Tom Fox, the CPT member who was killed in Iraq earlier this year, and the importance of others having the same steadfast conviction for peace that Fox had. “He was kidnapped and killed, and we miss him dearly,” she said. “Who will take his place? We are in his place, here in this street, and for that, I give thanks to God.”
Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, told the assembled crowd that members of Congress will be on vacation in their home towns for much of the summer and that they will lobby for votes in the upcoming elections. Dedication to working for peace should be a key component in voting with your conscience, Jones passionately declared, and that same dedication must be upheld in regard to the Annual Conference resolution for an end to the war in Iraq.
“This resolution is like resolutions in Congress,” Jones said. “It’s only worth how much we live it out.”
One participant had a unique and personal reason for wanting peace to come to the Middle East–sooner rather than later. Donna Morris Priest of North Manchester, Ind., has a 26 year-old son in Iraq on his third tour with the Marines. Priest said that public witnessing for peace has been a priority for her since she was a young adult, one that has continued as she has raised a family and developed in her own faith journey.
“He was pushed in a stroller to peace marches,” Priest said of her son. “It’s been my conviction for a long time. I’ve always been convicted, but now I can put a face to the Marines, and I know now even more that we need to be out” of Iraq, she said.
“I believe in peace, and I want to see us live it out…. If we don’t live it out, then it’s not worth much,” said Dick Shreckhise of Lititz, Pa. As a delegate to the Conference he had supported the passing of the resolution. “I sat next to a man who wasn’t in favor of it,” Shreckhise added. “I told him that we’re Church of the Brethren and what should our heart tell us? And he said, ‘Probably to bring them home.’ I said, ‘Well, let’s just follow our hearts then.’”
–Todd Flory is a legislative associate and Brethren Volunteer Service worker at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.