[Kosova / Kosovo] Aprl 4, 1999: Vigil in Philadelphia [Peaceweb Home Page]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
This account of a vigil in Philadelphia is reprinted with the permission of the author, from Quaker-P*, April 5, 1999. The vigil mentioned was held on April 4, 1999.
We're writing to report on the peace vigil held today on Independence Mall, across from the Liberty Bell on one side and the Federal Building on the other.
About forty people gathered today, starting at five o'clock, undeterred by rain and chilly weather. Friends were present from more than ten different monthly meetings, including two families with children. We were also joined by two students from Temple University and an anti-poverty activist. Most of us gathered in a circle for worship and prayer, while one praying Friend stood facing the street, holding a sign that read: "Pray for Peace in Kosovo." A number of passers-by stopped to talk to him. We prayed and sang for about an hour, holding in our prayers the refugees who have been sent from Kosovo, those who remain in terror in Kosovo, the Serbs and their government, and the hearts of people in our country and our government, praying that God's presence and love be felt and that peaceful ways be found to resolve this conflict. We prayed also that we Friends may have the courage to open to God's love and truth and give witness to it.
Friends brought several signs, including the following: "Where there is hatred, let us bring your love", "Where is Your Brother/Sister?", "Open your hearts to Milosevic, so that his heart may be opened," and "Violence doesn't create Peace."
Our vigil was interrupted by a Park Ranger who asked who our leader was. Several people pointed upward or said "God." She asked for information, then issued us a "verbal permit" to congregate there, warning us to apply for a written permit next time. While two of us were speaking with her, Friends sang "Kumbaya." Those who were speaking with her felt a wonderful sense of support and could see how the song seemed to soften and transform her.
Just after most of the group had left, a cameraman from Channel 3 News came and filmed those of us who were still gathered. We sang "Down By the Riverside": "Gonna walk with the Prince of Peace down by the riverside...and study war no more...Gonna lay down our guns and bombs, down by the riverside,,etc." He also filmed the signs that were still displayed. Then the cameraman asked for one of us to say in twenty seconds what the vigil was about. Those of you who watch Channel 3 News tonight may see us.
Friends who remained to the end shared ideas about how to maintain our prayerful public testimony. One Friend recommended that we make the vigil a regular occurance for as long as Friends see the need. Several Friends have expressed an interest in doing so. One Friend remarked upon what an important opportunity this is for Friends to witness to our peace testimony.
We have agreed to meet for a prayer vigil again next Sunday at 5 pm at Independence Mall on Market Street between 5th and 6th, across from the Liberty Bell.
We feel moved and thankful for the worshipful spirit that Friends brought to the gathering and rejoice in their testimony to the God of peace and compassion. Several Friends said that the prayer vigil was the best way that they could have spent Easter.
The idea for the vigil originated in a gathering at Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, a gathering to which members of many meetings as well as churches had been invited.
We feel moved by the reception the invitation to a prayer vigil had in so many meetings. Many Friends who were not able to attend the vigil themselves told us that they would be joining our prayers in their homes with friends and family. Many people passed on information about the vigil to friends and their meetings. Our thanks to all of you.
- Marcelle Martin
Newtown Square Friends Meeting (Pennsylvania)
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