Birmingham theological colleges to hold lament ceremony for Iraq war

By agency reporter
March 16, 2009

Students and staff from The Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education and St Francis Hall in the University of Birmingham will hold a lamentation ceremony at mid-day on Friday 20 March, the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war. Members of the public are being invited to join in.

Gathering outside Council House in Victoria Square at about 12.30pm, the names of many of the people killed in the war, both British and Iraqi, will be called out, and passages from the Bible will be read as a big drum is struck.

A procession will then be formed to walk slowly along New Street and back, holding placards lamenting lives lost in the war. The ceremony will end back in Victoria Square at 1.45pm.

Kara Cooper, chaplain at St Francis Hall said: "It is great that some of our students care enough to get out on to the street to mark the sixth year of the war and to help the community to grieve."

Professor John Hull of the Foundation added: "We are not saying anything about the rights or wrongs of the war. We are lamenting the loss of life over these six years of sorrow."

Rev Dr Knut Heim , tutor in Old Testament studies at Queen’s Foundation, explained: "In Biblical times people knew how to make lamentation but today we seem to have mostly forgotten how to do this. This ceremony makes use of an ancient Christian ritual to express the grief of the community at the loss of life."

Christian peace campaigners are also planning to gather at Downing Street in London for a vigil.

A statement from the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi said: "We will gather: To remember the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. To pray for all those who have died over the past six years. To repent at the role our nation has played in this war. To call for peace with justice for the future of Iraq and Afghanistan."

The vigil will include times of silence and times of public prayer. Participants are asked to wear black. They will gather on the south side of Whitehall, opposite the Prime Minister's office and residence.

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