A delegation of Kansas University students and campus ministry staff recently has added its voice to those of other Americans who have expressed opposition to a possible pre-emptive military strike by the United States against Iraq.
The group of 12 people from Lawrence took a major leadership role during a national conference called Celebrate, held Dec. 28 through Jan. 1 in Albuquerque, N.M.
The conference, held once every four years, attracted 1,240 college students and higher education ministry staff. The event is sponsored by the Council for Ecumenical Christian Student Ministries.
During the conference, which is intended to foster new visions of college ministry, the KU group grew concerned that an impending conflict with Iraq wasn't generating more conversation among participants.
In the course of a day and half, the KU delegation wrote a multi-pronged resolution that adopted several positions: advocating "politics of compassion" in the United States; urging students to work toward "peace with justice" on their campuses and in the world; and asking America's leaders to "act with moral responsibility" and "pursue open dialogue (with Iraq) with hopes of a diplomatic, peaceful solution."
Six hundred participants at the conference eventually added their names to a petition attached to the resolution.
The KU group, with the help of the conference's steering committee, also organized a candlelight vigil in a public square in Albuquerque. The vigil, calling attention to the conflict with Iraq, attracted hundreds of people.
The KU students then initiated a caucus at which more than 30 participants came to discuss ways they could carry out the resolution on their own campuses.
"This was all in a day and a half. It was very spur-of-the-moment. The main purpose for us was to get people talking, get the topic on the table, whether they agreed with the resolution or not," said Lindsey Burch, 22, a KU senior from Overland Park.
Burch is on the Student Leadership Team of Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave.
"Our plan right now is to compile some of the ideas we had in the caucus and send information to the people who signed the petition, encouraging them to continue the work on their campuses," Burch said.
KU students who were members of the delegation that attended the conference were: Burch, Lisa Wilkinson, Mike Lee, Nathan Soule, Kara Holcombe, Joel Luber, Quinn Gorges and Glen Sears.
Other members of the KU delegation were: Jolinda Matthews, administrative assistant at ECM and national coordinator for the Council for Ecumenical Christian Student Ministries; the Rev. Emilee Whitehurst, associate pastor for college ministry and adult education, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway; the Rev. Shawn Norris, campus pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and the Rev. Thad Holcombe, campus pastor, ECM.