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Religious Group Urges Special Prayers For Anglican Envoy

January 19, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An ecumenical religious group working for the freedom of hostages in Lebanon called Tuesday for special prayers to mark the one-year anniversary of disappearance of Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite.

Waite, the personal envoy of the archbishop of Canterbury, vanished in Beirut on Jan. 20, 1987 during his fifth mission to negotiate the release of American and other Western hostages. No group has claimed responsibility for his disappearance.

″We’re asking for people to remember Terry Waite in prayer″ on Wednesday, said Lela Gilbert, international coordinator for Friends of the West, a human rights group which has organized a ″prayer network″ on behalf of the hostages and has distributed bracelets with their names.

Ms. Gilbert said the group plans to deliver petitions seeking the hostages’ release to Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a spiritual leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God. Hezbollah is believed to be the umbrella organization for different groups holding foreign hostages in Lebanon.

Friends of the West has collected 40,000 signatures from the United States and Great Britain, Ms. Gilbert said. They will be delivered to Fadlallah via an envoy within two weeks, she said.

In addition to Waite, eight Americans and 12 other foreigners are missing and believed kidnapped in Lebanon. The hostage held longest is Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press. He was kidnapped in March 1985.

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