I’m writing to invite you to join me at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland (www.uccportland.org) for a special worship service marking five bloody years of war in Iraq. The service will be held Friday, March 14th from 7-8 pm. The church is located at 1126 SW Park Avenue.
Over 4,000 American soldiers have died since the start of the war and human rights groups have estimated that so far nearly 90,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a direct result of the conflict (with perhaps as many as 600,000 dying from direct and indirect causes). U.S. military forces do not count civilian deaths.
We have the power to end this conflict.
The rational for invading Iraqi was that the United States needed to stop a dangerous leader who had weapons of mass destruction. This turned out to be a fabrication. In fact, the result of the invasion has been a further destabilization of the region and human rights scandals involving American forces.
At the service on March 14th there will be music, opportunities for reflection, and the lighting of candles. This promises to be a moving and spiritual evening. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is a co-sponsor of the gathering.
Religious leaders spoke out against the invasion. The Vatican and the World Council of Churches were two of the most vocal opponents. Here in the United States the National Council of Churches in Christ USA along with almost every single Christian denomination (with the notable exception of the Southern Baptists) said the U.S. should not invade.
The national offices of the United Church of Christ have joined with others in calling for an end to this war. Recently, over 64,000 members of our denomination joined with our National Officers, Conference Ministers and Seminary Presidents in signing a letter to the President and Congress that said in part:
Today we call for an end to this war, an end to our reliance on violence as the first, rather than the last resort, an end to the arrogant unilateralism of preemptive war. Today we call for the humility and courage to acknowledge failure and error, to accept the futility of our current path, and we cry out for the creativity to seek new paths of peacemaking in the Middle East, through regional engagement and true multinational policing. Today we call for acknowledgement of our responsibility for the destruction caused by sanctions and war, thereby, we pray, beginning to rebuild trust in the Middle East and around the world. Today we call for repentance in our nation and for the recognition in our churches that security is found in submitting to Christ, not by dominating others.
In the name of the Peace of Peace, I ask you to come and to add your voice with a chorus of others calling for peace and justice throughout the world. Some American political leaders have said this war will last another 100 years but we must insist that the violence and the chaos end now. My hope is that all faithful people will join us but I especially hope that those who have not taken a public stand against the war come and do so now. Please also bring your children and other young people. Doing so will be a witness to them as to how you want the world to be.
Your brother in Christ,
The Rev. Chuck Currie