[Kosova / Kosovo] April 11, 1999: Vigil in Philadelphia [Peaceweb Home Page]
by Marcelle Martin
Today, April 11, 1999, under heavy rain, between thirty-five and forty-five Friends and other persons of faith gathered again on Independence Mall, center city Philadelphia, from five to six p.m., to pray for peace in the Balkans.
This vigil was the result of Friends' interest in maintaining this spiritual exercise for as long as the war continues or the Spirit leads. Two TV channels covered the event and interviewed several of the participants. Prayers expressed the feelings of those gathered, asking for openness of heart and willingness to search for peaceful ways to face conflict.
At the end, a small group of Friends lingered to share ideas about how to continue this effort. One Friend suggested that we actively try to encourage other Friends groups in this country and elsewhere to join our prayerful testimony simultaneously in their own cities or regions.
We are learning. The media's presence was useful in increasing our chances of reaching out to other people. It might also have had a distracting effect on some of us. Friends reported to have felt a deep connection with the Spirit, yet at times utterances seemed to come from places closer to the surface.
We feel that these gatherings continue to challenge us to move into the Light and to strengthen our ability to give our testimony to the world. We need this help to respond to the dark moments we live through. We continue to invite other Friends to unite with us. We hope you will feel moved to hold prayer vigils in your own meeting house or town. Some Friends have expressed interest in holding a daily vigil. Are there Friends who would feel moved to form a core group of pray-ers to undertake such a commitment? Let us know.
A small group of Friends concerned with sustaining and expanding this witness is emerging. We will be contacting other monthly meetings and Friends in different yearly meetings. Our vision is to contribute to a wide Quaker expression of what we understand to be God's loving way in the midst of anger, fear and mistrust.
Friends organized a rally in Media, PA for yesterday. Carl Stieren, from Ottawa, reported that Friends in Ottawa held a vigil for peace on April 2nd ("Good Friday") and were planning to hold another one today. He also reported that there was a demonstration on Easter Sunday in Strasbourg in front of the European Parliament, and that there is a vigil every day in Berlin, Germany.
We hope to pray with you next week. We obtained permits for today and next Sunday, April 18, to gather at Independence Mall, north side of Market Street, between 5th and 6th Streets. The National Park Service has been very cooperative and has reassured us of the possibility of renewing the permits for future gatherings as necessary.
Thank you Friends for your encouraging responses and for holding us in the Light. Thank you to those parents who have brought their little ones!
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Revised April 12, 1999, by C.S.