Leeds Christians against the War disrupt court with prayer

Press Release

'Rather than stand before you I prefer to kneel, not to the authority of this court but to the authority of God, who is the creator of the universe and the lover of our souls. I call on us all here to kneel either physically or in our hearts before God and to join with me in prayer at this time of crisis for our world. Let us pray for the people of Iraq that they may know the love and mercy of God as bombs rain down on their land and homes. And let us pray for forgiveness and mercy on our nation as it partakes in a blasphemous, immoral and criminal war. From the demonic waste of war and of preparation for war: Good Lord Deliver us.'

Leeds vicar Ray Gaston today fell to his knees in court and called upon all present to join him in prayer for mercy on the people of Iraq and forgiveness for our nation.

Following his arrest last October for peacefully obstructing the highway during an anti-war demonstration, Rev. Gaston was in court to hear the date of his trial.

As Rev. Gaston knelt in court this morning and sang the prayer "Kyrie Eleison", a member of his congregation at All Hallows, Hyde Park, Leeds, read out a poem by Lisa Suhair Majaj called Arguments against the bombing. Others from the church and from Leeds Christians against the War joined with him from the public gallery in praying the Kyrie which in English means "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy". Rev Gaston and the 15 members of Leeds Christians against the war were eventually ejected from the court building. Outside they concluded the time of prayer with The Lord's Prayer.

Julie Greenan, Churchwarden at All Hallows and member of Leeds Christians against the War, said:

'The Kyrie is an ancient Greek prayer of repentance. We must turn away from the evil of war and seek to promote life for all people. Our opposition to the war is rooted in faith and prayer. We condemn the evil perpetrated by the Iraqi regime, but we also hold to account the imperialist structures that inflict the daily violence of poverty and injustice on oppressed people throughout the world and is promoting a culture of fear. War is not the answer. It is barbarism. Violence will never overcome violence. We must outlaw the very notion of war and channel all our energy and ingenuity towards militant non-violence, in the tradition of Jesus and Gandhi. We must find ways to act not from fear but from love.'

19 March 2003

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