Relaymedia

Remembering the Fallen in Iraq -- NCC Resources to Memorial Day Services

( [email protected] ) May 24, 2004 08:56 AM EDT

The National Council of Churches announced that it would hold an interfaith worship service on May 27, the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, to mourn the deaths of the sons and daughters of our nation who served in Iraq and to pray for the families of the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians that were caught in the crossfire.

While the main event will take place on Thomas Circle in Washington D.C., there will be similar worship services held in individual communities as well.

The NCC announcement gave the following planning suggestion:

1. Try to include interfaith partners in the planning meetings. Most interfaith services (including the ones we do) are built on a worship style with which Christians are most familiar. Sometimes interfaith partners feel that their presence is just an add-on to a Christian service. The way to craft a service that is more inclusive is to include our interfaith partners in the planning from the outset,” the NCC announcement stated.

2. We are using the theme and material from the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence. The theme is “Power and Promise of Peace.” You may check WCC DOV materials at www.overcomingviolence.org

3. “Every Life is Precious” is an important sub-theme. At the Washington DC service we will have 700+ bouquets of flowers representing US military persons who have died in the Iraq war. We will also have more bouquets representing other soldiers and a whole swath of flowers representing children, moms, dads, brothers and sisters of Iraq who have died. We will try to get as accurate a listing as possible of the US military persons who have died and run their names on a screen via a Powerpoint program. You can find a full list at: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/Primetime/IRAQ_Casualties.html?CMP=IL23417

We encourage you to identify and honor the fallen soldiers from your state or local region, particularly but not exclusively. If you can use flowers (a bouquets per soldier from your region or even a single rose would be good), please make sure that there are more flowers that will represent the loss of other (including Iraqi) lives.

4. We will use several periods of silence and guided meditations during the service. We will use speakers minimally. Depending on the size of your congregation, you may encourage people to share their reflections (This requires a strong leader - and is not a good idea if the congregation is large.) The following is the basic pattern for the body of the service.

a. Laying our grief before God

Readings from Sacred Texts

Silence

Guided Meditation

Choral Response

b. Receiving God’s comfort

Readings from Sacred Texts

Silence

Guided Meditation

Choral Response

c. Moving on to become peacemakers.

Readings from Sacred Texts

Silence

Guided Meditation

Choral Response

At the end of the Washington DC service the congregation will take the flowers and go outside to create a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk. We encourage you to do something similar. (Police or Park District permission may be needed.)

For more information on the ecumenical event, please visit: www.nccusa.org