The weekly vigil, held outside the Zimbabwe High Commission in the Strand, was devoted completely to prayer on Saturday. Gospel singer Sally Sakala, led the prayers and hymn-singing. Reverend Richard Carter from St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square preached at the vigil. During his homily he quoted Archbishop Desmond Tutu who led a service at St Martin's last week. He said: "Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death, victory is ours through him who loves us". He said: " I believe Jesus Christ is present in the suffering of his people in Zimbabwe. He prayed "Stop the violence, stop the oppression, stop the rule of hatred, begin the rule of justice and peace." Following the announcement by the MDC to pull out of the elections yesterday, some church leaders in Southern Africa have expressed the hope that the decision will save lives. "The violence has shifted qualitatively," says a report by the church-based Solidarity Peace Trust in Cape Town, South Africa. "Zimbabwe is sinking fast into the conditions of a civil war, propelled largely by the increasing reliance on violence by the ruling party to stay in power." The MDC leadership has been decimated in key regions of Zimbabwe, it adds. Supporters have been beaten, maimed, killed and displaced, and those who remain are living under siege in a structured campaign of intimidation. Besides the killings, the MDC say 10,000 have been injured and 200,000 internally displaced. More than 20,000 homes have been destroyed by ruling party militias. Before the MDC announced they election boycott many churches of all denominations around the UK had planned to hold special services for Zimbabwe this week. They include: Ecumenical Service of Solidarity with Torture Survivors of Zimbabwe, Thursday 26 June 4 - 5.30 pm at St Paul's Anglican Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden,9ED, London. All welcome to join the service and procession afterwards to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy. Special Mass for peace in Zimbabwe at Westminster Cathedral at 5.30pm on Thursday, 26 June. The celebrant will be Bishop Alan Hopes. Prayer Vigil at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Edinburgh on Friday 27 June, from 8.30am to 4pm. Father Ed Hone said: "We are praying for peace, for justice, and in solidarity with those in the country and those throughout the world with relatives still there." For more information see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk. Sources: ZW News/ZimVigil
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