Kember supporters urged to keep hope alive - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 19, 2005

Kember supporters urged to keep hope alive

-19/12/05

Buoyed by the news yesterday of the release of German hostage Susanne Osthoff, supporters of Norman Kember ñ one of four peace workers abducted in Iraq in late November ñ are holding a vigil in central London on Wednesday to mark the 25th day since their kidnapping.

Christians, Muslims, peace activists and those of ìall faiths and just good faithî will gather in the historic Trafalgar Square (North side near National Gallery, opposite St Martin-in-the-Fields Church) on 21 December 2005.

The theme of the vigil, which will take place from 6.00 ñ 7.00pm, is ìKeep Hope Aliveî. Those participating are asked to bring along candles.

The others who have been abducted and who will be remembered are Tom Fox, Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney. They were in Baghdad as part of a Christian Peacemakers Team delegation.

There has been no news of the four since 8 December 2005, when a second deadline set by their captors, a previously unknown militant group called Swords of Truth Brigades, elapsed.

The threat was that they would be killed if all Iraqi detainees were not released. But the peace workers have received overwhelming support from Muslim organisations and even radical Islamic groups.

Ironically, they were talking to Sunni leaders about how to assist detainees when they were snatched outside a central Baghdad mosque on 26 November.

Vigils, lobbies and prayer circles have been maintained for the four across the world. Yesterday more than 200 people gathered in St. Michaelís Cathedral, Toronto, to remember the abductees.

ìWeíre not trying to second guess [the captors]. Weíre just waiting and praying,î said the Rev Robert Holmes, a minister associated with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who spoke at the service.

Mr Holmes, who has known captive Jim Loney since he was a teenager, described ìa time of emptiness, longing, praying, hoping, above all waitingî since the four were kidnapped.

The theme of Advent, when Christians celebrate Jesusí birth and the change he brings, was prominent.

There were also prayers for the captors, for the 16,000 Iraqis who have been held without charge or trial, and for an end to war, occupation and terror.

Of the CPTers, Holmes said: ìSomeone is trying to silence their voice. But in their present suffering, their voice has become louder than ever - louder than they could ever imagine. The whole world has heard itî.

Catholic priest Msgr Samuel Bianco who appealed for a change of ìhearts and mindsî among those who kidnapped the four.

Though many found it moving, not everyone was pleased with the service. In an article in the Toronto Star, a columnist accused Christian Peacemaker Teams of anti-American sentiment, naivete and ìfalse witnessî by being soft on terror.

But a commentator told Ekklesia that this misunderstood and misrepresented CPTís position, which is against all violence and stands for the moral force of enemy loving, even when this leads to risk and suffering.

Regular Iraq and captives updates on FaithInSociety. Comprehensive list of Ekklesia news and coverage of the events at the foot of Sooden family know nothing of Iraq negotiator abduction claim, 18/12/05.

Kember supporters urged to keep hope alive

-19/12/05

Buoyed by the news yesterday of the release of German hostage Susanne Osthoff, supporters of Norman Kember - one of four peace workers abducted in Iraq in late November - are holding a vigil in central London on Wednesday to mark the 25th day since their kidnapping.

Christians, Muslims, peace activists and those of 'all faiths and just good faith' will gather in the historic Trafalgar Square (North side near National Gallery, opposite St Martin-in-the-Fields Church) on 21 December 2005.

The theme of the vigil, which will take place from 6.00 - 7.00pm, is 'Keep Hope Alive'. Those participating are asked to bring along candles.

The others who have been abducted and who will be remembered are Tom Fox, Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney. They were in Baghdad as part of a Christian Peacemakers Team delegation.

There has been no news of the four since 8 December 2005, when a second deadline set by their captors, a previously unknown militant group called Swords of Truth Brigades, elapsed.

The threat was that they would be killed if all Iraqi detainees were not released. But the peace workers have received overwhelming support from Muslim organisations and even radical Islamic groups.

Ironically, they were talking to Sunni leaders about how to assist detainees when they were snatched outside a central Baghdad mosque on 26 November.

Vigils, lobbies and prayer circles have been maintained for the four across the world. Yesterday more than 200 people gathered in St. Michael's Cathedral, Toronto, to remember the abductees.

'We're not trying to second guess [the captors]. We're just waiting and praying,' said the Rev Robert Holmes, a minister associated with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who spoke at the service.

Mr Holmes, who has known captive Jim Loney since he was a teenager, described 'a time of emptiness, longing, praying, hoping, above all waiting' since the four were kidnapped.

The theme of Advent, when Christians celebrate Jesus' birth and the change he brings, was prominent.

There were also prayers for the captors, for the 16,000 Iraqis who have been held without charge or trial, and for an end to war, occupation and terror.

Of the CPTers, Holmes said: 'Someone is trying to silence their voice. But in their present suffering, their voice has become louder than ever - louder than they could ever imagine. The whole world has heard it'.

Catholic priest Msgr Samuel Bianco who appealed for a change of 'hearts and minds' among those who kidnapped the four.

Though many found it moving, not everyone was pleased with the service. In an article in the Toronto Star, a columnist accused Christian Peacemaker Teams of anti-American sentiment, naivete and 'false witness' by being soft on terror.

But a commentator told Ekklesia that this misunderstood and misrepresented CPT's position, which is against all violence and stands for the moral force of enemy loving, even when this leads to risk and suffering.

Regular Iraq and captives updates on FaithInSociety. Comprehensive list of Ekklesia news and coverage of the events at the foot of Sooden family know nothing of Iraq negotiator abduction claim, 18/12/05.

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