Unification News for September and October 1999

Kosova: Day of Conscience and Concern

by Ina Conneally and Gale Alves—Newburgh, NY

Usually we are not into political activism, but these ongoing atrocities against Albanian families were something else. I had just had a baby of my own, and the pictures of crying children and desperate women were weighing heavily down on me. My background is German. To be reminded of history repeating itself was therefore another factor in my sudden idea to organize a rally, together with my spirited and always reliable ally Gale ("No rally without an ally....") Our main point was not NATO, ground-troops and collateral damage. We were simply outrage that war criminals like Milosevic could still exist in our day and age and go free while trying to "ethnically cleanse" a whole people (commit genocide).

"This time, let’s protest at a cemetery," I suggested. A cemetery is good because it represents people who have passed away. So we had to find a church with a nice graveyard. Fortunately, the pastor of a beautiful historic church was willing to host the event. Other clergy were supportive as well, and at one ministerial gathering, together they wrote up a statement of protest against the Kosova holocaust. As usual, we contacted radio, television and the local newspaper. Our press release announced that, in addition to speeches given at the rally, a Native American minister would conduct a healing service.

We also invited local Albanians. To hear testimonies of refugees who had just arrived from Kosova added more gravity to our already firm conviction that we were doing the right thing.

The "Day of Conscience and Concern" arrived quickly, for we hadn’t had more than three weeks’ time for preparation. Our banner didn’t have the traditional peace dove. Instead, it showed a wounded dove with an arrow pierced through its chest. Surrounded by tumbled gravestones, our Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and Native American friends lined up. One rabbi who couldn’t attend because it was Saturday submitted a written statement instead, which we read aloud for him. As all the different voices spoke out, Gale and I realized that our role in this event had been to encourage from behind rather than take the lead.

The healing service was very moving. The Albanian families were asked to stand in the middle of a circle formed by ministers and other guests. A bowl of sunflower seeds was passed around. The slow beating of a drum filled the air, together with a Taino song. Then Manatee, the Native American minister, prayed for the spiritual healing and resurrection of all those killed and wounded in Kosova and other places of war. She asked angels and ancestors to help, guide and send energy to every soul suffering.

Channel 2 and The Midhudson Times had already left, but we were all still talking. Even though our gathering had started in such a heavy-hearted way, we felt uplifted after Manatee’s prayer.

It had again been made clear to our minds that our mission as Unificationists is to bring together, to harmonize and to let God speak and express Himself in many ways rather than doing all the talk and going all the walk on our own.

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