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NCC, FAITH GROUPS NATIONWIDE HOST
MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR IRAQ WAR DEAD

May 27, 2004, NEW YORK, N.Y. - As the Memorial Day weekend approaches, the National Council of Churches USA along with faith groups around the country are planning interfaith services - 26, at latest count, including two that took place earlier in May -- of prayer and remembrance for all those who have died in the war in Iraq.

The “lead” service sponsored by the NCC is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, at National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle, Washington, D.C. Flowers will represent the more than 800 Americans and thousands of others who have died in the conflict. At the end of the service, people will carry flowers outdoors to the church’s steps for a closing hymn and benediction. Then they will place the flowers in nearby Thomas Circle as a makeshift memorial.

Other services include:

Palo Alto, Calif., 6 p.m., May 27, Palo Alto City Hall Plaza, 250 Hamilton - a vigil for peace will be followed by a procession on University Avenue, led by an Earth Flag carried by Muslim, Jewish and Christian youth. The procession will include a coffin with a U.S. flag, a coffin with a flag of Iraq and one unmarked coffin in black.

Tampa, Fla., 7 p.m., May 27, Wyndham Harbour Island Hotel, 725 S. Harbour Island Boulevard. This service is being held as part of the “Come to the Feast” biennial young adult ministry gathering convened by the National Council of Churches.

Columbia, S.C., 7 p.m., May 27, Masjid as-Salaam, 5119 Monticello Road. This service is sponsored by Partners in Dialogue in cooperation with Masjid as-Salaam (led by Imam Omar Shaheed).

While the National Council of Churches opposed the war and continues to express grave concerns about the U.S. government’s Iraq policy, “the hope is to encourage people in the faith community who supported the war and those who opposed it to pray, reflect and work for peace in this troubled time,” said the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, NCC General Secretary, New York.

Participants will mourn all who have died in the Iraq conflict, including members of the U.S. military and all of the other soldiers, reporters and non-military personnel who have lost their lives, along with thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire.

“We believe that all are precious in the eyes of a loving God,” said Dr. Edgar.

Many of the interfaith services across the United States are using resources from the National Council of Churches, available on the NCC’s Web site at: www.ncccusa.org/memorialday2004/

In addition to the Washington, D.C.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Tampa, Fla., and Columbia, S.C., services noted above, the NCC has been informed of May 27 services in Phoenix, Ariz.; Pasadena, Calif.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Rockford, Ill.; Batesville, Ind.; Des Moines, Iowa; Sherborn, Mass.; Grand Rapids, Detroit and Lansing, Mich.; Duluth, Minn.; Philadelphia and Ft. Washington, Pa.; Williamsburg, Va., and Milwaukee, Wis.

Services are scheduled for May 30 in New Orleans, La., and May 31 in Presidio, Calif.; Astoria, Ore., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Earlier this month, services were held in Providence, R.I. (May 13) and Columbus, Ohio (May 25).

Check the NCC’s Web site for updates at http://www.ncccusa.org/memorialday2004/memorialdayservices.html

The National Council of Churches USA, with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., is the nation’s leading ecumenical organization. Its 36 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, historic African American and Peace member churches in turn count 45 million adherents in more than 100,000 local congregations nationwide. See www.ncccusa.org for more information.

-end-

National Council of Churches USA Media Contacts:
Leslie Tune: 202-544-2350 x11; mobile 202-297-2191; ltune@ncccusa.org
Carol Fouke, 212-870-2252; cfouke@ncccusa.org


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