Peaceful hymns of the church

Religious community recognizes fifth year of the Iraq conflict by singing songs to encourage the loving of other people.

March 19, 2008|By Brianna Bailey

St. Mark Presbyterian Church member Alma Vanasse and others, will mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War with meditation and a handful of hymns instead of protest songs.

Vanasse is organizing a peace and prayer service 7:30 p.m. tonight at St. Mark’s, 2200 San Joaquin Road, that will include scripture, silent prayer and music.

“We’re going to encourage people to ask the Lord what he would want each one of us to create peace in the world,” Vanasse said. “We are just going from the things that Jesus taught us — to love one another and encourage kindness and gentleness. We’re not activists. ”


People will gather across Newport-Mesa today to observe the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.

Gatherings range from waving signs at passing cars to quiet reflection and prayer.

Fairview Community Church members have been lighting candles and gathering on the street corner outside of the church each Wednesday during Lent to pray for peace.

The gatherings will culminate with a vigil for peace in Iraq at 6:30 tonight in front of the church, 2525 Fairview Road, in Costa Mesa.

“Marking the anniversary of anything is important because it gives us intentionality,” said the Rev. Sarah Halverson, of Fairview Community Church. “What we’ve been doing on a weekly basis is setting time aside to think to think about where we are — and we really believe this war needs to end, as a church.”

Marking the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict is both discouraging and an inspiration to raise awareness for Costa Mesa resident Laura Van de Merghel, who has organized local peace vigils periodically throughout the past five years.

Van de Merghel will gather with friends and strangers at 7 tonight at Newport Boulevard and 19th Street for a vigil she organized through

The group will light candles and wave signs as part of the national “New Priorities” campaign to end the war through

“I think just talking [and] having a presence raises awareness,” Van de Merghel said.

“It’s so easy to live in Orange County where everything is beautiful, but there are a lot of bad things going on in the world.”

 Fairview Community Church peace vigil 6:30 p.m. tonight, 2525 Fairview Road in Costa Mesa

 New Priorities Vigil 7 p.m. tonight at the corner of Newport Boulevard and 19th Street in Costa Mesa

 Peace prayer service and vigil 7:30 p.m. tonight at St. Mark Presbyterian Church, 2200 San Joaquin Road in Newport Beach

BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at

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