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Service draws those of many religions

Common prayers focused on peace

By Kevin Eigelbach
Post staff reporter

The Rev. Canon Kwasi Thornell hoped for more response from the faithful. Few parishioners, however, attended an inter-denominational prayer service about the war in Iraq that he organized and helped lead Sunday night at Christ Church Cathedral Downtown.

The "Interfaith Witness for Peace" service drew just less than 100 worshippers -- less than half of what a typical Sunday morning service draws to the Christ Church Cathedral.

Though few in number, those who did attend Sunday's anti-war service represented virtually every religious faith in Greater Cincinnati.

Despite their religious differences, they offered common prayers for the civilians doomed to die in Iraq, for the American soldiers in battle, and for the charities that will aid the wounded and find shelter for the displaced.

At Sunday's service, Aziz Rahman, a member of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, stepped to the church podium to perform the Adan, the Muslim call to prayer. It is heard every day from minarets around the world.

Rahman, of Lawrenceburg, Ind., filled his lungs with air, closed his eyes and sang out long syllables in Arabic, in an ornate melody embellished with half- and quartertones. "War is always a tragedy. Too many innocent people are going to lose their lives."

Seated next to him was Rabbi Susan Einbinder, who said: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor."

During the service, a long blast from a shofar, a ram's horn, was heard from the podium, with another echoing from the balcony.

The ancient Hebrews used the horn as a priestly instrument in Biblical times. Today, Jews use it in their New Year and Day of Atonement services.

Quakers and Catholics joined the Muslims and Jews in prayers for peace.

Michael Gable, of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, read Jesus' words on loving one's enemies from the gospel of Matthew: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In that way you will be acting as true children of your father in heaven."

Byron Branson brought a message from the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers, condemning the war as unnecessary, immoral and unwise.

Even if the war ends quickly and seems a success, it will still represent a failure on many levels, he said.

Lia Ferrell, a member of the Baha'i Faith of Greater Cincinnati, read the words of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the faith: "Let a man not glory in this, that he loves his country. Let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind."

At the end of the service, the congregation brought candles to the altar and left them burning as part of a 24-hour prayer vigil inside the sanctuary.

As they left, worshippers took home buttons with the names and ages of Iraqi children for which to offer prayers.

Services like this one bring people together for peace, Fort Thomas resident Pat Coyle said, and that's a good thing.

If any good comes from the war with Iraq, he said, it would be a growing consensus for peace.

"I think it will be a long time before Iraq has peace," said his wife, Sigred Coyle.

Publication Date: 03-24-2003

©Copyright 2003, The Kentucky Post (KY, USA)

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