HARTFORD, Connecticut – Clergy and lay leaders across denominations gathered at the Immanuel Congregational Church for the “Christians Concerned About Iraq” conference. Organized by the United Church of Christ, the conference drew representatives from the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, the Hartford Archdiocese and several other Christian denominations to discuss ways for churches to become “a sanctuary of peace” in the midst of war.
Conference participants expressed concern about a U.S. “rush to war” and the impact of war on Middle East and America. Workshops on War justifications discussed when war is justified, ways for congregations to handle controversial issues and the impact of war on terrorism and civil liberties.
"We are creating so many enemies around the world, Americans are in so much danger," said Sarah Huebner of Unionville, who attended the event with her mother, Barbara Huebner of Canton.
"We're just not going about this in a thoughtful way," Barbara Huebner said. "It's too quick, there are too many things going on behind the scenes. I feel we are just not informed enough."
"I'm concerned that we are steam-rolling this, using 9/11 to push forward whatever we want," said Bob McCallister, a Hartford resident. "I don't think we are going to stop with Iraq. Iran and North Korea are next."
The anti-war group, “Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice” decided to place adds in the local newspapers and participate in planned acts of civil disobedience.
Other who attended the Feb. 23 conference expressed concern over the lack of attention to the alestinian-Israeli conflict.
Speakers at the event included Rev. Robert Evans of the Plowshares institute, Joy Gordon, Philosophy professor at Fairfield University and expert on U. N. sanctions, Bishop Andrew Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, Rev. Stephen Sidorak of the Christian Conference of Connecticut and Dr. Heidi Hadsell, president of Hartford Seminary.
Dr. Heidi Hadsell read the statement signed by 15 clergy leaders representing the participating denominations.
"We oppose the use of military force against Iraq and its people, we support a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and the employment of all nonviolent alternatives to war, and we believe it is time for Christians in Connecticut to be better informed about the policies of our government toward Iraq and to act to change those policies."
Rev. Evans called the international anti-demonstrations as “humanitarian rallies where people have come together to avoid the suffering of innocent victims through the acts of pre-emptive military or internal oppression."
By Paulina C.