Two days before the National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) 2017 in Washington, the German delegation of MPs and there experts headed from the airport to ‘The Cedars’ in Arlington, where Douglas “Doug” Coe was living. For many years it had been a tradition, that he would speak to the German delegation directly after arrival in Washington Hilton, where the NPB takes place. But this time with his 88 years he was to weak, so we visited him at home in the center of the NBP movement in the hills.
Rudolf Decker asked me to pray for Doug on behalf of the German delegation and thus I had the privilege to pray for this spiritual giant a last time, who would have admonished me immediately, when hearing or reading this, as he loved the humble understatement.
At that time we did not know, that we would meet him for the last time on earth. But looking back, he left us his inheritance: Jesus, Jesus, and Jesus once again. And we all got two books with no words in the cover, one with all the gospels, one with the whole Bible.
“Doug Coe peacefully passed on to his reward this afternoon at his home in Annapolis, Maryland, surrounded by his wife, all five living children and spouses and most of his grand and great-grandchildren, who sang songs and hymns together by his bedside,”
said A. Larry Ross, spokesperson for the family.
“After decades of faithfulness to the calling on his life, he is now face-to-face with Jesus and reunited with many friends and family who preceded him, including his son, Jon.” … “In addition to Janice, Coe is survived by five children (and spouses), … 21 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren”
1958 Coe was employed by Dr. Abraham Vereide at the International Christian Leadership on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., the place where the Hilton stands in which the NPB takes place. Vereide, a Seattle Methodist preacher, founded the Fellowship in Chicago in 1942 and moved his operations to Washington, where he founded the National Prayer Breakfast in 1953. When Vereide died in 1969, Mr. Coe took over running the organization.
Coe visited every country in the world except three very small island states.
The National Prayer Breakfast
„Many people think Congress is the host of the gala annual National Prayer Breakfast, which takes place this week. It is not. The breakfast is organized by 33 members of Congress who belong to a well-connected but secretive Christian group called the Fellowship Foundation, which is run by Douglas Coe. Coe, 76, has been called the ‘stealth Billy Graham’.” (Source)
“Under Mr. Coe’s guidance, the National Prayer Breakfast, begun in 1953, grew to become a Washington institution, attended by every sitting president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Trump spoke to religious leaders there on Feb. 2.” (Zach Montague. “Doug Coe, Influential Evangelical Leader, Dies at 88”. New York Times, NY Edition, Febr 23, 2017. Page B 14, similar: here.)
“Under Coe’s guidance, the work became more intentionally and intensely personal, focusing on people-to-people relationships and serving individuals in need. That involved inner-city poor and disenfranchised youth across the globe as well as an international network of Congressional leaders and military leaders, parliamentarians and business executives. Included among the small group fellowship meetings were weekly House and Senate prayer groups, which met to deepen friendships, to pray and counsel together; Coe sat in on those sessions for more than 50 years, speaking only once in five decades. In 1953, both groups jointly invited President Eisenhower to gather with them collectively for what became the first annual National Prayer Breakfast, to seek the Lord’s guidance and strength and dedicate the nation and themselves to God and His purposes.” (Source)
I searched in the web and elsewhere, in which cases Coe and the group behind the National Prayer Breakfast were accused of secret diplomacy or having contact to bad guys or governments. In each case it were enemies in civil war or similar situations, which in the end made peace with each other. That Camp David in 1978 did not lead to a final success decades later is a different story.
There are worse things than to be peacemakers. And peacemaking is only possible behind closed doors and with trust and even friendship on both sides. Peacemaking is very difficult, if the media are around.
Ich habe im Web einmal zusammengesucht, in welchen Fällen der Verdacht von Geheimdiplomatie gegen Coe oder die Gruppe hinter dem Nationalen Gebetsfühstück geäußert wurde. Immer ging es um Gespräche verfeindeter Parteien, die am Ende Frieden schlossen. Dass wie in Camp David 1978 dieser Friede nicht auf Dauer hielt, steht auf einem anderen Blatt.
Es gibt Schlimmeres, als Friedensstifter zu sein! Aber Friedensstifter und Vermittler kann man eben oft nicht laut polternd und im Scheinwerferlicht der Medien sind.
“In the 1980s and ’90s he funded several trips for members of Congress to meet with African leaders who had been shunned by Western powers, among them President Mohammed Siad Barre of Somalia and President Omar al- Bashir of Sudan.” (NYT)
“In 2001, drawing on his connections in Africa, Mr. Coe invited the warring presidents Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Paul Kagame of Rwanda to his home — then in Arlington, Va. — for a casual meeting in the hope of fostering a peace deal. The two continued talks and eventually signed an accord in 2003.” (NYT)
In addition one has to argue against the conspiracy idea, that Coe and others really ruled the National Prayer Breakfast. In the moment it is mainly 33 members of the hill, influential ladies and gentlemen used to show the way. And they should not be able to take decisions? The same is true of the National Prayer Breakfast in Germany, where a foundation organises the „International Berlin Gathering“, yet MP’s from all parties and the President of the parliament have the last word to say.
This is, what the Wikipedia has to say (29.03.2017):
“The Fellowship was a behind-the-scenes player at the Camp David Accords in 1978, working with President Jimmy Carterto issue a worldwide call to prayer with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In 2000, Coe met with top economic officials of Pakistan as a ‘special envoy’ of U. S. Representative Joe Pitts. Coe met with President George H.W. Bush as he hosted a luncheon with Iraq’s ambassador to the United States in the mid-1980s. In 2001, The Fellowship helped arrange a private meeting at Cedars between two warring leaders, Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, one of the first of a series of discreet meetings between the two African leaders that eventually led to the signing of a peace accord. Coe was a member of the large United States Congressional and ministerial delegation which accompanied then First Lady Hillary Clinton to the 1997 funeral of the founder of the Sisters of Charity, Mother Teresa.“
“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Coe on many occasions as First Lady of the United States. According to NBC News, she participated in a prayer luncheon at The Cedars, the Fellowship Foundation’s historic conference house and grounds on the banks of the Potomac River in February 1993 and met privately with Coe in her White House office on December 19, 1997, and a ‘Meet & Greet with Business Leaders’ on Feb. 4, 1998. Clinton has written that Doug Coe is ‘a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God.’ Doug Coe has been referred to as a friend and hero by former Vice President Al Gore.”