University ‘Thankful’ That Hostages Freed

Officials at Eastern Mennonite University welcomed the news that three members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were freed by military soldiers in Iraq early Thursday morning, Mar. 23.

“We thank God that U.S. and British military forces were able to find the hostages and move them to freedom without injuries to either Iraqis or to the Coalition soldiers,” said EMU President Loren Swartzendruber.

Tom Fox
Read about the campus response to Fox’s death

Referring to the CPT hostage killed earlier this month who had studied at EMU, Swartzendruber said: “We continue to grieve for Tom Fox and will work to keep his vision of peacemaking alive.” EMU held a memorial service for Fox Mar. 15 that was attended by hundreds of mourners from the university and the surrounding community.

Fox’s Professor Thankful

EMU professor Lisa Schirch, who taught Fox in her “nonviolent strategies” class, also expressed gratitude for the CPT workers release.

“We thank God that their captors left them alone and unguarded,” Schirch said. “We are grateful that U.S. and British forces were able to find them without using their weapons,” Schirch said.

The freed CPT hostages were Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, and Briton Norman Kember, 74. The men were kidnapped Nov. 26 along with their colleague from Virginia, Tom Fox.

The CPT workers went to Iraq to build relationships across the lines of conflict and across religious lines and to demonstrate Christ-inspired alternatives to violence.

‘Pray for others held hostage’

Swartzentruber noted that EMU supported the call of CPT not to use violence to free the hostages, adding: “We wish to applaud the bravery and concern that motivated the soldiers who rescued the hostages.

“We also pray for others being held hostage and in prisons in Iraq, for the people of Iraq who continue to suffer so greatly, and for the Coalition soldiers, some of whom are from families in our own Shenandoah Valley,” said Swartzendruber.

Swartzendruber noted that EMU