Friday at Crawford: Camp Casey without Cindy Sheehan

Spent yesterday out at Camp Casey.
I had been asked to provide music for an interfaith prayer vigil to take place at noon-time.

Here’s a great photo collage from Jeff Paterson and “Not in Our Name” of the prayer vigil.

Jeff has also produced an incredible video, with my song as the soundtrack.

(I heard that Channel 8 and Nightline both mentioned the vigil last night, but I didn’t get to see either one…)

Spent several days this week, fretting over what music to play, and finally decided on some very simple songs. (I”ll talk about those in a minute…) The over-riding news of the day, of course, was the departure from Camp Casey of Cindy Sheehan herself. The news was so fresh that no one really knew what we’d find there at camp when we arrived…would the movement be continuing? Would it fall apart?

Far from it. Actually, when I compare my trip Monday and my trip Friday, there were probably DOUBLE the number of folks out at the Camp and in at the Crawford Peace House on Friday, after Cindy had left. (And, as I was leaving yesterday, more and more were still pouring in…) So, clearly, the movement is not waning, even with Cindy not there.

The clergy gathered at the Peace House about ten thirty, and went over our brief order of service. Then, we loaded in vans and went out to the site. It was great to meet Barbara R, from Austin, who was our van driver and an incredibly wonderful person. She and another guy (whose name escapes me…) seemed to mostly be putting things together.

The Gold Star Families,Iraq Veterans Groups,Military Families Speak Out, were holding a ten-thirty press conference, and as soon as it was over, our vigil started. You can hear some of that press conference here.

campcaseyThe clergy gathered at the end of the row of crosses, and processed down toward Camp Casey. The family members, who were finishing their press conference, met us halfway, and we embraced and headed back to the camp. I must say, this was the most moving, but also the most annoying, part of the prayer vigil. It was moving, because we got to meet these family members of those who had died in Iraq, and the Iraq War Veterans who are joining them in support. It was annoying, because the media was crowding in, snapping pictures, and almost leering at us. I’ve been around the media now and then, but I’ve never found them to be that intrusive before. Even the Sheriff started speaking to them, challenging them to get off the road.

When we got the site, I opened the service with two songs: “The Gift of Love” (caution: cheezy midi sound at this link…) and a song I’d written for the occasion, called “God is Here With Us.” After this, there was a time of prayer from several clergy of many different denominations, a time for the “prayers of the people,” and finally a time when the families and Vets gathered in the midst of us, and we prayed for them by laying hands on them in prayer.

At the very end, I played my new song, “Prairie Chapel Road. After we were finished, it was incredibly gratifying to have several of the family members come up to me and tell me how much they appreciated the song.

Several of them kept saying, “That’s OUR song!”

That’s so awesome to hear…

People kept telling me over and over that they hoped everyone could hear the song, and that it captured the feeling of Camp Casey really well. It’s not often, as a songwriter, that you encounter people THAT grateful for what you’ve written, so it was humbling and gratifying all at the same time.

Among the wonderful military families I met who were grateful for the song, were Mimi Evans, and Becky Lourey (sp?) who is a Minnesota State Senator. They did a marvelous job at their press conference, making it clear that they are keeping the questions Cindy originally asked open.

file6918I spent a lot of time with Charlie Anderson, an Iraq War Vet who served around Basra and “south of Bagdad.” Won’t go into all of what we talked about, but it was a powerful and moving conversation. (Quicktime of Charlie reading a letter. After this, we escorted the families members and vets to the doorstep of Bush’s ranch, as they attempted to deliver a letter to him.

However, a Secret Service agent was there at the gate and said that no one was there who could officially accept the letter. So, the families left the letter in the middle of the road, along with one of the flowers we’d given them.

Afterwards, we went back to the Peace House for lunch and more visiting with the families/vets. I am very grateful for this chance to listen to the stories of these mothers and veterans, and to support them and their right to speak out for peace.

I’m amazed at their courage and their ability to stay focused, in the midst of all sorts of craziness. They don’t ALL agree…they don’t all see the “solution” eye-to-eye. But they are united in their desire for a swift and lasting peace.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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