Sister Anne Montgomery Presente

This is in prayer for Sister Anne Montgomery, who passed earlier this week. I had met Sister Anne numerous times when I was working on my plays about the Plowshares movement. She was  a tiny, frail woman who had the heart of a lion. And her friends in the Plowshares movement lionized her.

Anne Montgomery was part of the first Plowshares Eight disarmament action some 32 years ago. She and seven other people of faith went into a GE weapons plant in King of Prussia, PA and symbolically destroyed MX missile parts that were being constructed there. It was the first of six Plowshares actions she took part in over her life, and three years ago she took part in an action at age 82 called the Disarm Now plowshares, which, like her previous actions, put her in prison. To her and others in the movement, the construction of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction were not only international crimes; they were also crimes against her faith and a belief that all of us are created in the image of our Creator.

She was not just against nuclear weapons, either. I once got her to speak at a meeting/fundraiser for a New York based group against nuclear weapons. She spoke very briefly about their work against nuclear weapons, and then spent the bulk of her time talking about the terrible things she had seen in Israel as part of the Christian Peacemakers Team.  She had been beaten and brutalized at least once by the settlers there, and she wanted this American audience to understand that (in her experience) the weapons of mass destruction they were trying to ban were a direct part of a policy of support and suppression of human rights worldwide–a policy they also needed to protest.  For Anne Montgomery, there was no way to compartmentalize evil–one does not sit down with the devil and pretend there are no flames about.

I had left activism around the Plowshares not long after 9/11–it was pointless in the days and months following the attacks to try and preach a message of nonviolence, and I lost faith with the idea that the ideas about violence solving problems that are so prevalent in this country could be changed. Sister Anne kept her faith to the end.


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