Bahai News -- The Seattle Times - All faiths have say in peace vigil LOCAL NEWS

Friday, March 21, 2003 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific

All faiths have say in peace vigil

By Linda Ashton
The Associated Press

Bill Gardner, a lay member of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Sunnyside, Yakima County, recites prayers from various religious faiths during a prayer vigil Wednesday. Gardner and three other men are holding the vigil each Wednesday through Lent.
YAKIMA — Each Wednesday, four veterans of the U.S. military kneel and offer prayers for peace — using words of the faithful from all over the world — at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in the Yakima Valley.

There are Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Bahai and even Zoroastrian prayers.

"We just don't think we have an exclusive voice to heaven," said Bill Flower, 66, an Army veteran and a lifelong member of Holy Trinity.

The idea came from the church's Spokane Diocese, which designated Wednesday, March 19, a day of prayer, said the Rev. David Lundean, rector of the 120-member church in Sunnyside.

But Lundean, 70, also an Army veteran, Flower and two others — Bill Gardner and John Saras — decided to keep the vigil every Wednesday throughout Lent.

If the war with Iraq continues beyond Easter, "I suspect we will keep doing it," Lundean said.

The men, dressed in white vestments, begin prayers together for 30 minutes in the church and then each man takes another 30-minute shift alone.

The vigil, which starts at 11:30 a.m., coincides with the church's Lenten Wednesday soup-and-pie lunches.

"Many people will come to eat and then leave," Lundean said.

"Some have stopped in during the prayers. You can come anytime, for however long you want."

Episcopalians regularly pray for peace and for the country, the president, lawmakers and others as part of their Sunday liturgy, and those prayers have been added to the Wednesday cycle from the Book of Common Prayer.

"As a Christian, we must believe that every prayer is heard and every prayer is answered. Oftentimes it is not answered in the way we expect or want," Lundean said.

"It can help to pray for peace. Peace starts with us and moves out from there."

In December, the United Methodist Women opened a national campaign of prayers for peace to last until Easter.

Across the state, people are finding comfort and strength in prayer. In the Lewis County city of Centralia, for example, a nondenominational prayer group for peace has started at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Tuesday evenings.

"We will be praying for peace, and we welcome people who support the war, who are against the war or who have mixed feelings about the war," prayer-group leader Margaret Keeler told The Centralia Chronicle.

At Holy Trinity, Flower said his quartet supports President Bush and the United States but hopes for an early, peaceful resolution of the conflict with Iraq.

They hope their diverse prayers for peace offer a voice that will be heard.

"We don't think that Christianity has any monopoly on getting this thing resolved, but we do believe in the power of prayer — strongly," Flower said.

©Copyright 2003, The Seattle Times (WA, USA)

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