Written by J. Bennett Guess
October 5, 2007
Two national officers of the United Church of Christ, who will deliver nearly 40,000 church-member-signed anti-war petitions to the White House on Wednesday, Oct. 10, say they will "stay until arrested" if the UCC's Pastoral Letter on the Iraq War is not received by Bush Administration officials.
The Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president, and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, say they will take the church's anti-war statement to the White House at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, following confirmed morning meetings with leadership offices of the U.S. House and Senate.
"Our pledge is not to leave the gates of the White House until our message has been received or until we are arrested," wrote Thomas and Jaramillo in an email message sent Friday morning to the 38,154 persons who have added their signatures to the UCC's Pastoral Letter.
As of Friday, requests from the UCC that someone from the White House's public liaison office meet with Thomas and Jaramillo, and receive the petitions, have not been granted.
The UCC's Pastoral Letter on the Iraq War – which calls for an immediate, deliberate and significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq – was first presented by the denomination's five-member Collegium of Officers at the UCC's biennial General Synod in June, attended by nearly 10,000 in Hartford, Conn. The 700-word statement was co-signed by all of the UCC's Conference Ministers and Seminary Presidents.
Since June, however, an organic campaign to attract additional endorsers has resulted in nearly 40,000 co-signers from within the UCC. Many churches still plan to collect signatures this Sunday, which is World Communion Sunday, and fax them to the UCC's national offices in time for Wednesday's meetings in Washington.
"We believe we are at a critical moment when impasse, resignation, and discouragement can easily allow failed policies to continue for months," wrote Thomas and Jaramillo in a message tailored for World Communion Sunday observances. "Therefore, our witness will also include an urgent plea to the leaders of our own church in every setting, and to our ecumenical colleagues, to find their own way to offer visible and courageous witness for justice and peace in Iraq."