Home to Army unit in prisoner abuse scandal holds prayer service

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004

CRESAPTOWN, Md. (AP) The horror of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal and a locally based Army Reserve unit's alleged role in the crisis drew people together for a quiet prayer service for peace.

Cresaptown is the home of the 372nd Military Police Company, which is at the center of the abuse claims at Abu Ghraib prison. Seven members of the unit have been accused in the scandal.

''There's a lot of hurt,'' the Rev. Harold McClay, pastor of Cresaptown United Methodist Church, said Sunday. ''It's hard to believe this would happen.''

About 40 people gathered at McClay's church last Sunday to sing hymns, comfort each other and ask for guidance to help them deal with the negative, worldwide attention now focused on their community.

''There's a lot of concern about the people it happened to,'' McClay said of the Iraqi inmates. ''But hopefully, there will be some forgiveness for the people involved.''

At the interfaith service, a half-dozen ministers and a rabbi from nearby Cumberland took turns reading prayers. The Rev. Charles Erzkus, a Lutheran minister from LaVale, prayed for ''all those who are wounded today.''

The Rev. Lloyd McKenna, a Methodist pastor from Cumberland, prayed for protection and peace of mind for U.S. troops.

''Keep them all from the hate that hardens them. Let them know our love awaits their return, and as they wait, keep them strong,'' he said.

Another prayer was delivered for ''leaders of the nations.''

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