Thursday 17 March 2005

Sunday 13 March 2005

Regarding the Elkhart County, IN - Iraq Vigil from 7-8 pm on March 19

Go to and punch in your zip code. There you will find a very brief description of each vigil now being organized in your own region for Saturday, March 19, 2005, the 2nd anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Since no one else had came forward and it was only a week away, I finally registered as a host/organizer for Elkhart County, IN, composed the description for the Sojourner's website regarding what I envisioned happening locally, and began to conceptualize planning and other publicity for such an event.

So, here is the next step for interested readers in this and nearby communities: I've already sent the following information to the local media. Please feel free to share this rather widely among your own network of friends, church email lists and community organizations -- especially since this was not issued in time for any Sunday morning church bulletins:


A special candlelight vigil will be held from 7-8 pm, March 19 outside (surrounding) the Elkhart County Courthouse, in conjunction with hundreds of similar vigils being held across the country on this day. The local vigil's purposes are to call on people of all faiths from Goshen and the surrounding communities to come together:

1) to remember and pray for the dead (1500 Americans; tens of thousands Iraqis, among soldiers and civilians) and the many wounded (10,000 Americans, countless Iraqis)

2) to mourn the immense financial and human cost of this war both domestically and in Iraq on the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion. (U.S. citizens have also suffered on the domestic front, as crucial programs that benefit low-income families have been threatened and the already- ballooning national deficit has swelled to compensate for the cost of war.)

3) to experience renewal of moral and spiritual strength, as we collectively pray together for lasting peace and true security at home and abroad.

The vigil will involve special readings and prayers, silent reflection, and participation from a cross section of persons in the community. It is being organized by people who believe that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican – by people who desire to include the young and the aging, war veterans, persons with family members or relatives in Iraq, peace workers who have served in Iraq, and any others directly affected by this war. Plan to join in and bring your candle (and drip protector), your friend(s), and a prayerful spirit on that hour.

For further information, go to


Some personal thoughts on the matter:

This invitation is inclusive and overt because too often we have not been intentional enough within our communication networks about inviting members of different faiths...or those with direct involvement in the military, their families, war veterans, Iraqis, peace workers, and any others directly affected by the war in Iraq.

It is my hope that certain willing members of these groups can be identified in our community who will make themselves available to briefly share from their own perspective during this vigil, in keeping with the overall objectives as stated above. Such an experience has the potential to open up new lines of authentic communication within our community, especially during and immediately after the vigil.

Some may express a desire to participate, but will need to deal with fear of social consequences later. They will need to hear your personal word of encouragement and your knowledge of who all is invited in order to feel safe to participate. There is no substitute for motivation derived from your personal relationship.

It would also be nice if we could fill up all the sidewalks surrounding the courthouse that evening! It will be good to let the public know there is a strong concern in our community regarding the various ways this war has powerfully impacted the lives of people, both here and abroad!

People are not really required to sign up ahead of time to attend this Elkhart County vigil, but it could help those of us organizing it to anticipate the size and scope of literature needs and other aspects in planning if they do. To do so, go to:

“…What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Clair Hochstetler