EMU Celebrates Life/Work of Tom Fox

Lisa Schirch speaks at Tom's memorial service Lisa Schirch speaks at Tom’s memorial service

Christian Peacemaker Team worker Tom Fox was eulogized in an on-campus memorial service Wednesday evening, Mar. 15, as an example of active love and nonviolence in a place of protracted conflict.

At the same time, the one-hour service celebrated the thousands of others who are working on behalf of peace around the world and remembering those who continue to suffer as a result of violence everywhere.

More than 300 students, faculty, staff and community persons gathered in Lehman Auditorium to remember Fox and others who have put their lives on the line for the cause of peace in Iraq and other countries.

Human Rights Worker

Fox, 54, was a Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) member investigating human rights violations, helping ordinary Iraqi people rebuild their shattered lives and telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war. He was taken hostage on Nov. 26, 2005, along with three fellow CPT colleagues, by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.

Fox’s body was found by Iraqi police in western Baghdad on Mar. 9, 2006, with evidence of having been tortured before being shot. The status of the other CPT hostages remains uncertain.

The service opened with a candlelight processional by current students in EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) program and a welcome from EMU President Loren Swartzendruber.

Kenneth J. Nafziger, professor of music at EMU, led the audience and the EMU Chamber Singers in music, including “O Healing River,” “If the War Goes On,” “God of Grace and God of Glory” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Peace Mission in Iraq

Fox, from Clearbrook, Va., took one semester of graduate work in EMU’s graduate-level Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, studying “strategic nonviolence” with Lisa Schirch, associate professor of conflict studies, to prepare himself for returning to his peace mission in Iraq. Schirch visited Fox in Iraq last summer and stayed in close touch with him through e-mails.

participants in Tom's memorial service carry candles

Dr. Schirch offered sample readings from Fox’s communications while a series of photos were projected on a screen of the CPT worker’s activities in the Middle East.

“Tom was my student,” Schirch said. “He was dedicated to praying for and working for peace. He wanted to tell the world what was happening in Iraq. He would want us to plead to God today to send down healing waters and wash the blood off of the sand.

“Tom would want us to continue our fervent prayers for the remaining CPT hostages James Loney, Harmet Sooden and Norman Kember, for journalist Jill Carroll, for the Iraqi people who have suffered so much and for the U.S. soldiers who are our neighbors from here in the U.S.,” she said.

Memorial Fund

Guest books were made available for audience members to sign and offer personal reflections and condolences. These will be forwarded to Fox’s CTP colleagues, who will in turn convey them to Fox’s two college-aged children.

A Tom Fox Memorial Fund for CJP has been established to support the continuation of Fox’s work through the training of additional persons in peacebuilding, nonviolent action and advocacy for social justice.

More information is available by contacting Bonnie Price Lofton, CJP director of development, at 540-432-4234; e-mail: Bonnie.Lofton@emu.edu.