Soldiers' Family, Friends Find Support in Prayer Service
Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard
Family and friends of soldiers serving in Iraq gathered Wednesday at Unity of the Valley church in Eugene to pray for their loved ones' safety and to support one another.
Chaplain Sara Rich organized the evening service to help families as the holidays approach. Her daughter, Suzanne, a member of the U.S. Army's 66th Military Police Company, deployed to Iraq in February.
Since then, Rich has participated in online support groups with other mothers, but she felt a need to start something at the church and in the community.
"Families can be very fragile right now," said Rich, a family counselor. "This can be a very isolating time if you can't connect with other families."
The small group shared their stories, heard prayers and listened to songs during the half-hour service. Photos of their loved ones, looking smart in uniform, rested upon the altar, and candles flickered in the sanctuary.
Larry and Janis Hayes' two sons are Marines. The eldest, Brian, 21, has been in Iraq since September. They expect their other son, Scott, 19, to be deployed next month. They won't know for sure until Christmas, when Scott Hayes returns home to tell the whole family at once. …