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Vigils: Small Group, Mighty Message
Published on Monday, November 18, 2002 by The Daily Record (Wooster, Ohio)
Vigils: Small Group, Mighty Message
by Megan Akers

On any given Wednesday night, specks of candlelight illuminate the square as people gather quietly, praying for peace.

For about a month, people from community churches have stood near the gazebo on Wednesday evenings from 5-6 p.m. holding a peaceful protest against the possibility of war between the United States and Iraq.

Each Wednesday evening, candles flicker near the gazebo on the square in downtown Wooster as people gather quietly, praying for peace and holding a peaceful protest against the possibility of a war between the United States and Iraq. Rakim Sunra Ali photo
On average, Pastor Carroll Meyer of Westminster Presbyterian Church said, about two dozen people congregate.

"All of us are concerned about the issues that seem to be developing," Meyer said.

The demonstration is a far cry from anti-war demonstrations that flash across the evening news, the pastor said.

"This is a quiet kind of demonstration," he said. "We're not yelling in the streets. We're quietly talking about praying for peace."

Cindy Gooch joined the vigils because she's frustrated.

"Some of us don't know what else to do," Gooch said.

With the possibility of war with Iraq looming, participating in the demonstrations gives Gooch a sense of accomplishment.

"I have the feeling that I haven't just been sitting at home, bemoaning the fact," Gooch said.

As an avid churchgoer, Gooch said mixing her patriotism with spirituality was hard at first. But after meeting people at the demonstrations, it was easier to blend church and state.

Participants are from all spectrums of the rainbow, young and old, Gooch said.

"It's refreshing to be around younger patriotism," she said. "It shows a different point of view and activity."

One group of participants who are especially affected by the possibility of war include students at The College of Wooster who are from Mideast countries.

For about two years the group has been studying conflicts in the Middle East, Meyer said. With the conflicts escalating, the group decided to join the demonstrations.

"It is very personal for them," Meyer said. "Their sisters and brothers, their homeland. When we think about what's happening there, it's very personal and painful."

"We don't want our nation to go headlong into war by ourselves," Gooch said. "If there's a backing of other nations, that's another matter."

She said the United States needs to step back to look at the picture as a whole before drastic measures are taken.

"We need to give Iraq another chance," Gooch said. "before we do something horrible. Many innocent people, who Hussein has taken advantage of, are going to be killed."

The square demonstrations may be small, but Meyer and Gooch hope they send a mighty message.

"We know we're a small group of people in a very large community," Meyer said. "We need to constantly remind people that there are alternatives and that we need to work on those alternatives."

The right to hold demonstrations is one freedom this nation offers that Gooch said she's thankful for.

"I don't want to live any place else," she said. "This is the country I want to be in."

Copyright 2002 The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio


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