Vigils, prayers for peace on Saturday

Franklin County residents will respond to an international call for vigils, prayer, and action to spread the message of peace in Syria by standing in vigils on the Greenfield Town Common and the Iron Bridge in Shelburne Falls and praying in churches in Ashfield on Saturday.

The weekly Greenfield Peace Vigil has stood on the Town Common from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday since it was started in September 2002 by four area women protesting the lead up to the Iraq War. This Saturday, the vigilers will hold “Don’t Bomb Syria” signs.

Also on the Greenfield Town Common for the past several years, a group has gathered on Saturdays from noon to 12:30 p.m. for a weekly silent meditation focused on peace.

This Saturday from 6 to 7 p.m., residents of western Franklin County will hold a peace vigil at the Buckland side of the Iron Bridge in Shelburne Falls.

In response to Pope Francis’ invitation to come together for prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Ashfield churches are hosting a time of prayer and meditation in the St. John’s Episcopal Church sanctuary this Saturday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. All are invited during any of that time.

Commenting on the Greenfield Peace Vigil’s anniversary, one of its co-founders, Mary McClintock said, “We started this peace vigil 11 years ago this month because we could not stand by quietly as the U.S. was headed into the Iraq War. Now, the Obama administration’s call for bombing Syria feels eerily like where our country stood 11 years ago. One key difference between now and then is that the U.S. has been at war continuously since then, spending trillions of dollars on bombs while impoverishing our communities. Bombing doesn’t help the cause of peace or democracy. It didn’t then. It doesn’t now. Military intervention in Syria could cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and only breed more hatred toward the U.S. and misery.”

Calling for prayers for peace, Ashfield UCC Church minister the Rev. Kate Stevens wrote to her parishioners, “Pope Francis is calling for a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday. I am very concerned, as he is, about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but I am also concerned about the U.S. getting involved. As the Pope said, ‘war brings on war; violence brings on violence.’ We must stop this madness and search instead for ways to bring peace and compassion to this region of the world. I am committing to fasting that day and taking time for prayer that evening. I invite you all to join me. I am delighted that the Pope is using his ‘pulpit’ to attempt to bring peace to the world.”

For more information, contact McClintock, 413-522-5932 or or Stevens at 413-625-6967.

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