Local peace activist to discuss Iran journey

Stanley Campbell, executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries (RUM), will preach about his Fellowship of Reconciliation trip to Iran Sunday, July 2, at the 9:30 a.m. service at Mount Morris Church of the Brethren, 409 W. Brayton St. A brief slide show will follow.

Campbell traveled with the delegation to Iran in May, meeting with religious leaders and the vice president of Culture. He returned to Rockford May 24.

The delegation met with a variety of people, including businessmen, college students and clergy and lay leaders from the various faiths, including the Jewish enclave in Tehran, Muslim, Shiite and Christian leaders.

The group also met with human rights educators and workers, environmentalists, students, women’s groups, veterans and an orphanage.

The itinerary included stays in Tehran, Shiraz, an excursion to Persepolis and Naghshe Rostam, Isfahan, visits to an Armenian Christian church and a Zoroastrian Fire Temple. Summary of the tour is at www.forusa.org.

The trip also included a full-day drive to Qum (the “Vatican of the Shiite”) via Natanz (site of a nuclear facility that was visible from the highway) and Kashan. In Qum, they met with religious leaders and requested interfaith prayers for peace. They visited the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini and the cemetery of martyrs, where members of the delegation that were veterans performed a short prayer service.

“The most moving moment for me was hearing a wounded and blind veteran of the Iran-Iraq War call for peace between the USA and his country,” Campbell, himself a Vietnam veteran, said. “I gave him some presents, including a Chicago Bulls hat, to which he expressed sorrow at the loss of Michael Jordan.”

The 25 delegates from across the country were required to provide their own travel expenses. Campbell had the support of RUM (donations are still being accepted—notate “Iran Trip”). Venues for Campbell to speak are welcome.

“We want to get the message out that if we could talk to the Iranians, so should our government,” Campbell said.

Also on the trip were the following: the Director of Pax Christi (a Catholic peace group), the Director of the National Iranian-American Council and the former director of FOR, Richard Deitz.

Campbell has served 20 years as executive director of RUM, and has been on numerous peace missions, including Nicaragua in 1985; Guatemala in 1986; a return trip with Vietnam veterans in 1987; and the occupied territories of Israel in 1988 during the first intifada.

Campbell has also joined a Volunteers In Mission/UMCOR work camp to Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1996, and a delegation of the National Council of Churches to Cuba in 2004.

“This was the most exciting and successful peace mission that I have been on,” Campbell said of the Iran trip.

For more information, contact Campbell at 964-7111, or the Church of the Brethren at 734-4573.

From the June 28-July 4, 2006, issue

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