[Kosova / Kosovo] Vigil Planned in Virginia Beach [Peaceweb Home Page]
-- Thirteenth Day, Fourth Month, 1999
by Lloyd Lee Wilson
Last Second Day evening (4/6/99) over 30 Friends and attenders gathered in the meetinghouse in Virginia Beach, Virginia in a called meeting for worship to discern what tasks, if any, the Lord for us as individuals and as a faith community in response to the lethal violence in the Balkans. The meeting was covered, with a deep sense that God was indeed calling on us to respond in some very specific ways. Since we had gathered in worship, there was no immediate decisionmaking. Instead, Friends let the insights of the worship settle in and waited for our regular meeting for business, which was held First Day, 4/11/99.
At that meeting for business Virginia Beach Friends approved holding a prayer vigil for peace in the Balkans, to begin as soon as logistically possible and to extend to 24 hours per day, seven days per week as quickly as that becomes feasible. The steering committee appointed for the vigil has announced a starting time and date of 6PM on 4/12/99.
We are now spreading the word to other religious groups and peace-minded individuals in Hampton Roads and beyond, inviting them to join us in the vigil, either physically at our meetinghouse or spiritually at their own facility.
The primary motivation behind this vigil is a profound belief in the very real power of prayer. If we are not actively and whole-heartedly engaged in prayer around these issues, our other peacemaking activities will inevitably be hampered. However, it is not enough only to pray in private. Other public witness and actions are also called for, rooted in our common prayer.
The steering committee believes that the vigil will be a newsworthy event, enabling us to put our witness before the general public (not an easy task in this highly militarized area). We are also beginning to publicize the vigil to Friends groups farther away, in the hope that there might be other Friends meetings and churches moved to undertake a vigil as well.
Part of the "product" we anticipate coming out of the prayer vigil is new insights and leadings about actions that can be taken to promote peace. The steering committee will be encouraging suggestions along these lines, for seasoning by the meeting's peace and social order committee. (Questions about material aid for the Balkans and possible shelter for a refugee family are already under discussion by the monthly meeting's Peace and Social Order Committee.)
We will also be providing writing materials and addresses of all the key figures in the Balkan conflict, so that vigilers who feel so led can write letters supporting nonviolent action rather than escalating violence. There will also be a vigil journal, so participants can record messages for those who will come after them.
In a separate but related action, Susan and Lloyd Lee Wilson reported to the meeting for business at Virginia Beach that the conflict in the Balkans had crystallized their decision to undertake war tax resistance. Virginia Beach Friends Meeting immediately approved a minute supporting their action as consistent with historic faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends.
-- Lloyd Lee Wilson
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Revised April 11, 1999, by C.S.