Minister calls on residents to 'pray for our enemies'

February 26, 1998


Staff Writer

With the immediate threat of war in Iraq receding, Washington County religious leaders Thursday led about 30 people in praying that war might be avoided in the Middle East.

Clergy from four denominations joined at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown to pray for peace both abroad and at home.

"The very fiber of our lives is threatened by violence. Whether it be in Iraq or on Potomac Street, violence is so prevalent," said the Rev. Donald Stevenson, of Christ's Reformed U.C.C.

"As a people of faith, we are required to seek peace and pursue it," said the Rev. Kenneth Dorsch, of St. John's Episcopal Church. "I pray that in the heat of the dispute, our feelings of powerlessness will not cause us to give up our most precious resource - hope."


Dorsch asked those assembled to appeal to a higher power.

"Let us remember in this time that there is no time when God is absent," he said.

A deal brokered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appears to have ensured a reprieve from conflict. But the faithful who attended the noontime vigil said they remain concerned about long-term prospects for peace in the region.

"I have some reservations, yet. Have we heard all of the details?" said Hagerstown resident Julia Westphal, 88. "We have to just wait and hope this does the job."

Anita Masters, 71, of Smithsburg, said every American is concerned about the conflict.

"I think we in our own mind cannot fully comprehend the devastation that is possible if widespread war would occur," she said. "Prayer is one way that we can, hopefully, influence our leaders to use restraint and more peaceful ways to settle the problem."

James Martin, 65, of Maugansville, said peace is always more likely when combatants talk to one another instead of threatening each other.

"I'm sad that our country takes such an assaulting attitude with Iraq," he said.

The Rev. David Buchenroth, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, sounded a similar theme in his prayer.

"Let us pray for our enemies," he said.

Rabbi Janice Garfunkel, of B'nai Abraham, led the audience in singing a verse from Isaiah 2:4, "Lo yisa goy el goy herev. Lo yilmidu od milhamah."

The English translation: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore."

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