Today's prayer vigil
Pax Christi members joined other Christian groups outside Church House Conference Centre in London today, the feast of All Saints, for Morning Prayer. The vigil was to ensure a critical presence outside a defence conference that had been sponsored by a number of arms companies including BAE Systems and General Atomic. Security staff from Westminster Abbey and from Church House Conference Centre tried to move the prayer vigil, stating that no protests could take place on Abbey property or private property.
Those taking part insisted that it was quite legitimate for Christians to pray on church land. One participant, an Anglican priest, expressed her deep concern at attempts to be moved from her own Abbey church.
The service involved prayers, scripture readings and songs. Individuals prayed for victims of the arms trade and war; for the peace saints who have given their lives nonviolently for peace and for those attending the defenct conference that their hearts and minds be changed away from the ways of war. Many members of the Armed
Forces - from the UK and other countries, passed by the vigil.
The Conference Centre is hosting a two-day 'Air Power Conference' organised by RUSI in association with the Royal Air Force and is sponsored by six arms companies, (including BAE Systems and General Atomic) all of them linked to the manufacture and sale of drones.
Pax Christi has written to the Conference Centre and to the Council of the Corporation of Church House expressing its deep concern at the association of the Centre and the Church of England with the Conference.
Participanfs included Christian CND, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Pax Christi and Christianity Uncut.
The National Justice and Peace Network's Ethical Investment Group (EIG) has endorsed the action. In a statement they said: "The EIG is saddened to learn of the Church of England's association with the Air Power Conference organised by the Royal United Services Institute held on the 1st and 2nd of November at the Church House Conference Centre in Deans Yard. Given that the conference is sponsored by six arms companies, all of which are linked to the manufacture and sale of drones, we join Pax Christi and other Christian/non-Christian groups urging the Church of England to take a lead in opposing the arms trade by speaking out against any hosting of arms traders in conference facilities linked to it and by also taking an active lead in opposing the use of drones."
Campaigners are writing to Archbishop Rowan Williams appealing for him to stop the exhibition. For more information see earlier story:http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=21350