Left Justified: Bob’s on his way to Iraq via Rockford

Left Justified: Bob’s on his way to Iraq via Rockford

By Stanley Campbell

Bob Edgar is going to Iraq and, on his way, he’ll stop in Rockford and tell us why. That’s Rev. Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches, the main office of most of the Protestant denominations in the United States. Kinda like a Protestant pope. Some may remember Bob Edgar as the six-term congressman from Pennsylvania (1974 to 1987). He was elected almost bipartisanly and, true to his belief in term limits, he voluntarily stepped down from the U.S. House of Representatives after 12 years.

Rev. Edgar will be visiting Rockford on his way to Iraq. He’ll be leading a peace delegation members from his National Council of Churches, hosted in Iraq by the Middle East Council of Churches. And, yes, I am asking if I can go along, if nothing else just to carry his luggage. If he says I can go with him, I’ll send you a postcard from Baghdad.

Bob was the person who encouraged folks to send postcards to President Bush begging him not to go to war with Iraq. That was in September when George W. was vigorously beating the war drum. More than 1 million people responded to his call. (The postcards were a good idea because letters would have had to be screened for anthrax before the president would have seen them.) Now postcards are needed to suggest to the president that he follow the lead of the UN inspectors and let them inspect Iraq.

Anyway, George W. got so many postcards and so much pressure that he then threw the ball in to Congress, and Rev. Bob followed it. He organized lobbying efforts that got the representatives and senators to put requirements in the war resolution, seeking UN support. Those efforts may have saved countless lives in Iraq and slowed the wheels of war in our country. More people responded to the call for peace than anyone ever expected, thanks in large part to Bob’s efforts.

Rev. Edgar will join us here in Rockford on Friday, Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in Court Street United Methodist Church, downtown Rockford (two blocks north of the Public Safety Building). This is a free program offered to you by Rockford Urban Ministries, whom I work for. Our Christmas present to the community!

Bob Edgar has been on Bill Moyers’ Now program and interviewed on countless news channels. He is a sane religious voice and is moved by strong convictions of peace and justice.

Rev. Edgar is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, and before the National Council of Churches he was president of Claremont Theological School in Claremont, Calif., for 10 years. He brought that school from the brink of collapse back to institutional health. Besides being a member of Congress, he was also pastor at numerous United Methodist congregations and served as a teacher, college chaplain, community organizer and director of a “think tank” on national security issues. He has a reputation for being an optimist, a futurist, and a coalition builder who enjoys meeting a challenge.

We are truly blessed to have Rev. Bob Edgar speak to us on his way to Iraq. If you want to join us for dinner that evening, it will cost you 20 bucks, but the program is free and open to the public. Here’s wishing us all a very peaceful holiday season!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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