“A Call from the Hostage Takers”


Exclusive Documentary Viewing

Sunday, August 18, at 12:30 p.m.

Forty years ago, the Iranian hostage crisis gripped the world.  Student protesters had overrun the American embassy in Tehran and found themselves with 52 captives.  Each night from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, network news anchors intoned, “This is day x of the hostage crisis.”  Desperate to get their message out, the hostage takers invited 50 American religious leaders and peace activists to visit Iran.  Leslie Withers, then southeast regional organizer for Clergy and Laity Concerned, was part of the delegation.

Earlier this summer, the BBC aired a retrospective report on this high-risk trip, a journey quite unlike what the delegation imagined.  Using archives of the visit and fresh interviews with former Iranian hostage takers and their American visitors, the BBC documents their hopes and misgivings at the time and their reflections 40 years on.

You’ll have a chance to see the 50-minute documentary Sunday, August 18, immediately after worship.  Leslie will talk about the experience and lessons for today, with the U.S. teetering on the brink of war with Iran.  Bring your lunch and join us in the Prayer Meeting Room.  Even if you do not normally follow international politics, you will find Leslie’s personal experience fascinating.  The photo with this article shows Leslie when the delegation toured homes on the edge of a garbage dump, a legacy of the Shah of Iran’s brutal reign.