Leading up to our visit in Washington on Oct. 10, when we delivered our anti-war petitions to Congressional leaders — and attempted to do the same at the White House — our offices in Cleveland were buzzing with activity.
Each day, we rejoiced over the stacks of petitions arriving in the mail. Some pastors even drove as far as 100 miles to deliver petitions in person, eager that their concerned members not be left out of the final count.
Following World Communion Sunday (Oct. 7), when many congregations circulated last-minute petitions, our fax machines ran non-stop for 48 hours afterward, as churches forwarded their stash of names just in the nick of time.
And online — where this signature-gathering campaign was launched and nurtured — the tally of endorsers increased substantially by the hour.
As promised, we delivered your concerns to the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate. Each of their representatives respectfully received us and our heavy boxes of petitions.
At the White House, we were not afforded a face-to-face meeting with the public liaison office as we had hoped, so we took our place in a no-protest zone where we were arrested after ignoring three police orders to move.
Our public witness was an expression of solidarity with the thousands who had signed the Pastoral Letter and were praying with us for peace.
Our effort in Washington, we realize, was largely symbolic. It alone neither rattled the White House nor convinced the Congress. And even our time in custody was brief. After we each paid a $100 fine, we were released a few hours later.
But our effort was a wake-up call — not only to our elected officials, but also to each of us. Throughout this war, the U.S. church has been largely complacent and, therefore, complicit. Sadly, the Christian community has not mustered the passion, volume and numbers needed to overcome the misguided leadership of our government. Our "100,000 for peace" campaign is an attempt to speak with new moral clarity.
Together, as our co-signed Pastoral Letter states, we call for an end to this war. 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.
In mid-November, we announced the next chapter for "100,000 for Peace," and we’re asking for your renewed commitment.
Together, by Jan. 6, we hope to raise $100,000 to assist Iraqis displaced by the war. We also want to lift 100,000 prayers and letters for our U.S. service members. And, in order to localize our pro-peace advocacy, we hope to generate 100,000 calls, letters and visits to the in-district offices of our U.S. Senators and Representatives. (see story on p. 8)
Once again we are counting on your spirited participation. There’s no end to what 100,000 committed peacemakers can accomplish.
The Rev. John H. Thomas is the UCC’s general minister and president. The Rev. Linda Jaramillo is executive minister of the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries. Both are members of the five-person Collegium of Officers.
Get involved. www.ucc.org/100Kforpeace