EMU Holds Prayer Vigil for Iraq Hostages

A prayer candlelight vigil took place at the college campus of a former student who remains in hostage along with three others in Iraq.

Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., drew a crowd of more than 60 participants to its Center plaza on the evening of Nov. 30 to pray for the captive members who are a part of the Christian Peacemaker Team.

Vigil attendants were updated on the hostages, held by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, and spent time in silent reflection as they held lighted candles. The crowd communicated a message of solidarity and a commitment to a non-violent resolution in their time of prayer.

The Christian Peacemaker Team, which has projects running all over the world to reduce violence, confirmed the hostage report on Nov. 29 that the four human rights workers missing in Baghdad on Nov. 26 were associated with its organization.

A video showing the captive CPT activists was released by a group which accuses them of being spies, according to The Associated Press.

Of the four was Tom Fox, 54, from Clearbrook, Va., and former student in the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at EMU. He had been working in Iraq with CTP for the past year and a half to promote peace.

"Fox has devoted his life to working for peace," said William Goldberg of CJP, according to EMU.

Family members released statements of sentiment on Dec. 1 after the hostages were identified.

"His belief that peaceful resolutions can be found to every conflict has been tested time and again, but he remains committed to that ideal, heart and soul," said one of Fox's children, who has asked their name not to be disclosed, according to CPT. "I will continue to hold him and everyone that he is with in the Light and pray for a peaceful resolution."

The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) celebrated its 10th anniversary in June 2005. Formerly known as the Conflict Transformation Program before entering into its new decade, it was founded to further the personal and professional development of individuals as peacebuilders and to strengthen the peacebuilding capacities of the institutions they serve.