Representatives of a group of churches organized a candlelight vigil and public prayer session for Monday evening to offer support to those with relatives in the Middle East and demonstrate belief that God will prevail in the event of war.
"We're demonstrating to the community that we believe only God can solve this crisis, or allow it to continue, whatever his desire is," said John Maynard, pastor of the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Moab."Ultimately - the old song - He's got the whole world in His hands," Maynard said.
A silent vigil, candlelight march up Main Street and prayers at a downtown plaza were finalized by Saturday by members of the Moab Ministerial Association and announced on posters throughout town and during most local church programs over the weekend.
"At the end of the route we'll have specific prayers," Maynard said. "We have people here who have sons or daughters and other relatives over there (in Saudi Arabia), and I'm sure they want private prayers for those people."
Don Falk, pastor of the First Baptist Church, was to lead the prayers.
Maynard said the program was organized in meetings with representatives of the Community Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Church of God of Prophecy, the Episcopal Church of St. Francis, St. Pius X Catholic Church, Grace Lutheran Church and the First Assembly of God Church.
Other member churches that did not directly participate in planning were informed about the program, including the Moab Baptist Church and the Moab Christian Center.
Maynard led the religious community in organizing the program, which he began to think about shortly after passage of the U.N. Resolution establishing the Jan. 15 deadline for Iraqi to vacate Kuwait.
"There has to be some concerted effort by the Christian community because the thing is now in God's hands," the pastor said. "I never really believed it would come down to that, to the 15th. I always thought war would be averted, peace would come about, that Hussein would come to his senses.
"I couldn't believe this thing would go on and on and on. And now that we're down to the 15th, the world has no other choice but to turn to Almighty God and just say to him, `Your will be done, and in the meantime, keep us under your protection. And I don't mean just us. Keep Hussein under your protection, Iraq under your protection - the whole Middle East under your protection.' Hussein, Gorbachev - we are all brothers and sisters in this world. We are all God's children."
Maynard said that inevitably during planning for the vigil, local religious leaders became involved in debate over the meaning of war in the Mideast and how churches should respond. Some members of the ministerial association felt uncomfortable about staging a public demonstration and declined direct participation.
"We have many different feelings in the ministerial association about what's happening in Mideast, as there are options out there," Maynard said.
"Some see the outbreak of war as a fulfillment of prophecy. Others see any type of war as not being right, so because of some basic theological differences we could not all agree on exactly how we wanted to handle this. This did not have complete suport of all the members, but yet all will take part in some way."