Supporting war, praying for peace

Church: During a time of danger and confusion, a Fallston congregation sees its duty clearly.

April 27, 2003|By Jennifer Pesonen | Jennifer Pesonen,SUN STAFF

For the Rev. Mitch Miller of Fallston Presbyterian Church, the war in Iraq has not only sparked conversation among his congregation but has inspired its members to take an active part in supporting American troops serving overseas.

Miller also has his personal beliefs regarding the war and the actions taken by President Bush and the U.S. military.

While his preference would be for peace, Miller said he realizes that dealing with someone as dangerous as Saddam Hussein is a tricky situation. He compared it to riding on the back of a tiger. "No one wants to be riding on such a dangerous creature but no one dares to get off," he said.

Miller, who has been pastor of Fallston Presbyterian Church for four years, said that among the congregation, there was a wish for a peaceful resolution before the situation escalated to war.

"Certainly there was no great desire for war. We hoped and prayed for peace, but many have accepted that there may have been no other way," Miller said.

Miller's congregation has been taking steps to show support for the troops stationed overseas.

Members of the congregation learned of soldiers who do not have anyone to correspond with.

"We've been putting together packages to send to soldiers who don't have anyone. We're sending toothpaste and treats - the kinds of things these guys have been asking for," Miller said.

The children of the congregation also are helping.

"We're also sending over cards written from the youth group," Miller said.

He and his congregation will continue to pray and do what they can until the war's end, he said.

Miller, who emphasized that he was not speaking on behalf of the members of his congregation, voiced frustration with the United Nations, which he said has great potential.

Miller, who received his bachelor's degree in history education from Millersville University before receiving his master's of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., also sees similarities between past and current events.

"I see a disconcerting similarity between Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein ... also between the U.N. and the League of Nations, particularly their unwillingness to respond to these situations," Miller said.

He said the current situation stems from the actions - or inaction - of past administrations.

"There were a lot of missed opportunities in the past with presidents and administrations. That history goes way back. We're clearing the mess up by those before us," Miller said.

As a pastor, Miller thinks about the possible effect of war on Iraqi Christians.

"I have great concern about what has been happening to the Christian minority in Iraq and about any possible suffering. I am concerned about what will happen to them at the end of this process," Miller said.

However, when responding to the notion of whether the pursuit of peace justifies war, Miller said that sometimes war can be justified.

"Yes, on occasion, it is necessary to take up arms in defense of peace, justice and the protection of self and others," Miller said.

Miller said he supports Bush's actions and those of American troops in Iraq.

"The congregation joins me in praying for peace. We've been remembering [American soldiers] as well as the people of Iraq and the leaders of our nation and all other nations in our prayers," he said. "The soldiers have been called to duty to support our nation, and they are doing their job."

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