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Massacre of 600 Liberian men women and children 19 years ago remembered at Grace Lutheran Church
Bishop Ronald Diggs and Pastor Clinton Kersey of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in D.C. announce a major commemorative service this Sunday for the tragic deaths of those 600 along with a prayer and reconciliation event for the Liberian people.
By: T.M.Newberry, webmaster@graceElca.org
In the early evening of July 29, 1990, over 200 soldiers from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), headed by an infamous Liberian, named Charles Julu surrounded the church and used automatic weapons to blast open doors and gain entry into the residential quarters, school building, and the main sanctuary. Those with automatic weapons fired directly into the crowded church while other solders began using machetes and cutlasses ruthlessly to murder babies, children, women, the elderly, and men. All the while, these so-called soldiers sworn to protect the people of Liberia ignored the pleas from those people "of mercy" and cries that "We are not rebels, please save us and our children!”
This horrific meaningless massacre snuffed-out the lives of 600 human beings and physically wounded at least 150 more. Immeasurably in numbers, it psychologically devastated the spirit of the entire continent of Africa and affected the lives of any human being who learned of the butchery.
Paraphrasing and combining eyewitness accounts, it was said, "I saw women with their heads smashed to pieces, with babies tied to their backs. I saw people draped over the altar that had been butchered with knives and shot with machine-guns, bodies of people who had tried to escape hanging from windows. The floor was thick with blood, and bodies bunched together under the pews where people had unsuccessfully tried to hide. The crucifix had been thrown to the ground. Outside and in the school buildings, people had been killed where they lay on their mattresses. Everywhere were dead people." Additionally, others present told of women being raped and there were people who had survived and climbed over the wall and went to the houses across the road. Nevertheless, the Soldiers were seen going into the houses and finding these people and then taking them down the road to the beach. No one witnessed what happened to those people then.
It has been reported that first it seemed that Doe's Executive Mansion Guard had murdered everybody in Saint Peter’s Lutheran church that night of 29 July. Julti was in charge of the Executive Mansion Guard at the time of the attack, but the death-squad commander Michael Tilly, was also accused of being the leader of the attack on the church. Others reportedly said they saw Doe himself at the Lutheran church that night present with Doe’s cousin, Jackson Doe, and Colonel Goah of the Executive Mansion Guard.
To commemorate the 19th anniversary of the massacre at St. Peter’s Lutheran, the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of 16th Street, Washington, D.C., United States of America is planning a major Commemorative Service. The date of the service is August 2, 2009; the time: 10:00 a.m.
The person behind the Commemorative Service being planned is Pastor Clinton Kersey, the new pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, where many Liberian families, exiles in the USA, are parishioners. Several of these families, like the Subahs, Woheels, Woodses and Wangalos, are Lutheran-born, and hail from St. Peter’s in Monrovia.
Pastor Kersey has himself maintained a long association with Liberian Lutherans, beginning in the early 2000s, when he was associate pastor of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
It was he who initiated a sister relationship between Christ the Servant and St. Matthew Lutheran Church, a bustling parish at the heavily populated Paynesville Red Light area near Monrovia, Liberia.
Last Sunday, June 28, 2009 Pastor Kersey called a meeting of some members of the Grace Church parish, especially the Liberians, to plan the commemorative service. The group elected Mr. Victor Z. Kolako as chair of the Planning Committee, with John and Catherine Woods, Moses Garbla, Fatu Tarawali and N. C-Kor Guseh as members. The meeting agreed to invite former Lutheran Bishop Ronald Diggs to associate with the Committee in planning the service.
Bishop Diggs has also consented to preach at the Commemorative Service.
The Committee decided that the theme of the Service should be “Love, Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Reconstruction.”
One of the decisions taken at Sunday’s meeting was that invitations would be sent out to the entire Liberian community in the greater Washington, D.C. area; to Liberians and friends of Liberia throughout the United States, especially through their churches, county and other organizations;
A special invitation has also been extended to the Liberian Ambassador to Washington, M. Nathaniel Barnes. Ambassador Barnes has already confirmed his willingness to participate in the service.
Chairman of Commemorative Planning Committee- Victor Z. Kolako
Opening of the Commemorative Service-Pastor Kersey
Officiating the Service-Bishop Ronald Diggs -sermon
From Liberian Embassy-Guest, Nathaniel Barnes Liberian Ambassador of WDC
Poem By-Saymendy Lloyd Neal(recital)
Choir From-Little White Chapel Church; Georgia Ave, NW WDC. - Bishop Pailey Sherman
Mr. Anthony Taylor, Guest- Comm. Supervision Agency
Anyone who would like to contribute donations or funds please contact Grace Lutheran Church. Or Chairman Planning Committee Victor Z. Kolako
………From the Service of remembrance held at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Monrovia
We are also holding this service against the backdrop of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. The report is a national judgment call made that must be read and soberly reflected upon by all of us so as to arrive at way forward for genuine national healing, peace and reconciliation. As we do this, I call upon all Liberians to remain calm and reframe from utterances that are contrary to peace and national security.
-- Rt. Rev. Dr. Sumoward E. Harris
Lutheran Church in Liberia
"They had come to the house of God to seek refuge under his watchful eyes but wicked men came and murdered them right in the presence of God." Said Monsignor Andrew Karnley, Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Church in Liberia.
Event contact persons
firstname.lastname@example.org 703-675-3283 Musumani
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Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of 16th Street, Washington, D.C. Established 1888, Great Music Ministry
4300 16th Street N.W. Washington DC. United States of America
Tel: 202-829-9400 Fax:202-291-
Page Updated Last on: Aug 01, 2009