With world leaders apparently either unwilling or unable to avert war in the Persian Gulf, people of many faiths turned to prayer for peace Sunday.
"May the soldiers in all camps in this deeply conflicted region be spared the tragic orders to unleash their weapons upon each other and the thousands of civilians caught between them," prayed those attending an interfaith vigil at Wasatch Presbyterian Church."May the leaders of the world's nations be given the insight, flexibility and humility that is required to achieve a lasting and just peace by peaceful means."
About 150 people braved the steep, icy roads to gather in prayer at the church, where several religious leaders spoke of the hope for peace amid a growing prospect of war.
Noting that many of those present had spouses, friends and neighbors who "are making footprints in the sands of southwest Asia," the Rev. Richard A. Scott, chaplain at the Tooele Army Depot, prayed for their safe return and pleaded for wisdom and patience among the factions in conflict.The Rev. Thomas Cross, Christ United Methodist Church, recalled a Vietnam-era peace hymn taken from Ecclesiastes and asked, "Is this a time for decisive military action, or a time for patience? What time is it?"
The answer, he said, "depends on the motivation of hearts we cannot read" and may only be known in hindsight. "Let us pray for the leaders of all nations, including the one who can most easily avert war by withdrawing from Kuwait - Sad-dam Hussein."
Cross said the current crisis contains an element of tragedy because like so many wars in history, it might have been prevented by simple acts that were overlooked. Coming as it did in the "afterglow of the end of the Cold War," the confrontation in the Persian Gulf caught the world unprepared, he said.
"What time is it? Tonight it is a time for prayer."
Jewel Benson of the Northern Ute Tribe sang a Ute peace song: "We are all Earth's children. We are all carekeepers of one another. We are all God's children. May there be peace on Earth."
She said, "Last night I went to a sweat lodge and I prayed that no blood be spilled upon Mother Earth."
Abdul Mannan Afridi, president of the Islamic Society of Salt Lake, read words of "peace and reconciliation" from the Koran. He said he and many others lack a clear understanding of the causes of the current crisis, but "if an enemy inclines for peace, then you should incline for peace." He urged patience and forgiveness.
Also leading the group in prayer were Dr. Harold Bowman, vice chairman of the Interfaith Peacemaking Resource Center; the Rev. Gary Weaver, Wasatch Presbyterian Church; Dee Rowland, director of the Catholic Peace and Justice Commission; the Very Rev. Joachim Hat-zidakis, Greek Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral; and Farrokh and Parviz Mohebali, Salt Lake County Baha'i Community.